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DAR Headquarters and Museum

Americana and live music

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“DAR” is short for The National Headquarters of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Pfew. So anyway, the DAR is a nonprofit volunteer woman’s organization founded in 1890 to “promote patriotism, preserve American history, and secure America’s future through better education for children.”

Its city-block sized headquarters, actually 3 joined buildings, is worth visiting. Start with Memorial Continental Hall on the C St. side. Many people, including film and TV show directors, look at the portico and think “White House.” Did you ever watch The West Wing? See the movie Fair Game? You’re looking at the White House’s standin.

From the porticoed entrance, you’ve got a peerless view of the Washington Monument and the south end of the Ellipse. Beyond the facade is Memorial Continental Hall, which houses 31 period rooms, each sponsored by a different state and displaying a scene from life in an early American home. The hall also holds a genealogical library.

Next is the Administration Building, where the DAR Museum displays rotating exhibits of early American artifacts from its collection of 30,000, including quilts and ceramics and intriguing little items like a pair of Dolley Madison’s earrings. The Americana Collection here holds original manuscripts and papers pertaining to and dating from colonial days to 1840.

The third building, which fronts 18th St., is Constitution Hall, one of the best places in town for concerts. Those who know their civil rights history will remember the DAR as the organization that refused to allow black contralto Marian Anderson to perform here in 1939. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stepped in and arranged for Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial; 75,000 people attended. (The DAR wants all to know that Marian Anderson returned to sing at Constitution Hall six times and launched her farewell tour from its stage.)

Metro: Farragut West on the Silver, Blue and Orange Lines. 17th St. and I St. exit.


At A Glance

Address:
1776 D St. NW
Washington 20006
Price:
Tours of the museums are free; see website for ticket prices for Constitution Hall events.

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