On August 24 and 25, 205 years after the British invaded Washington, D.C., and infamously set the White House ablaze during the War of 1812, Dumbarton House in Georgetown is set to host “Dolley Days,” a weekend event commemorating former First Lady Dolley Madison’s escape to the Federal-style estate. Now a historic house museum, the estate was then called “Belle Vue” and owned by Charles Carroll, a military major and close friend of the Madisons’.
The event, which is free, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. Visitors “will enjoy special self-guided tours on Saturday and Sunday featuring special collection and archive documents related to the Madisons as well as historic lawn games, making ice cream, and kids’ activities,” the museum says in a release. The 1799 estate stands at 2715 Q Street NW.
When Madison fled the White House in August 1814, she made sure that a replica of Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne Portrait of George Washington was removed and thus safeguarded from destruction. In a letter to her sister, she explained how the frame was cracked in the process:
“Our kind friend, Mr. Carroll, has come to hasten my departure, and is in a very bad humour with me because I insist on waiting until the large picture of General Washington is secured, and it requires to be unscrewed from the wall. This process was found too tedious for these perilous moments; I have ordered the frame to be broken, and the canvas taken out. It is done! and the precious portrait placed in the hands of two gentlemen from New York, for safekeeping.”
Dumbarton House—not to be confused with nearby Dumbarton Oaks—is filled with period furniture and decor and has tranquil grounds. It received upgrades between 2016 and 2017.