Our Mission

The mission of Dumbarton House, the national headquarters of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA), is to support the NSCDA Corporate Societies and their members; to maintain an historic museum property, which serves as a resource for the NSCDA nationally; and to contribute to the cultural life of the surrounding community.

Through the interpretation of its historic site and collections, the Dumbarton House Museum promotes the understanding of historic preservation and of the early history of our nation, so that the lives and ideals of early Americans inspire current and future generations.

Details of our organization and achievements are presented in our annual reports.

History of the Home

History of the Home


Visitors to Dumbarton House return in time to when Joseph Nourse, first Register of the U.S. Treasury, and his wife Maria, made their home here, between 1804 and 1813. …

Black and White Dumbarton House c 1920 Library of Congress History of the Home


Historic Preservation Story Preservation projects aimed at returning Dumbarton House to the simplicity of its original Federal design were begun in 1931, three years after …

History of the Home

Federal Style (1790 -1830)

Dumbarton House is fine example of Federal period architecture. Our nation’s early years, from 1790 to 1830, generally define the Federal period. During this time, …

Dolley Madison

A First Lady Flees to the Sanctuary of Dumbarton House On August 24, 1814, Dolley Madison was forced to flee the White House as British troops advanced upon …

Joseph Nourse (1754-1841)

America’s First Civil Servant As first Register of the Treasury, Joseph Nourse was a highly respected and distinguished civil servant. With a career that spanned 40 …

History of the Home


1703  The Maryland Assembly grants Scottish immigrant Ninian Beall a tract of 795 acres for his services “[against] all incursions and disturbances of neighboring Indians.” …

Samuel Jackson Goes to Washington

While Dumbarton House bases much of its interpretation around its understanding of the Nourse family, there is a another entity who holds outsized influence on …

Architectural Q and A

Questions and Answers previously compiled by staff, volunteers, and interns. Was there a barn out back? A horse and buggy (carriage)? A stable? Although we …

History of the Home

A Brief History of Ice Cream

This week in celebration of National Ice Cream Month — Programs Manager Mary Lesher made ice cream. Try it out yourself and if you’re interested, …

Our Partners

We’re happy to partner with neighboring historic sites and organizations to enhance cultural life in the Washington, D.C. community.

Museum Organizations & Associations

  • Georgetown Business Improvement District
  • Cultural Tourism DC
  • H-DC History and Culture Website and List
  • American Association of Museums
  • Destination D.C.
  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Citizens Association of Georgetown

Gift Shop

Visit the Dumbarton House gift shop without leaving your home.