Tudor Place is located in the historic Georgetown Heights district of Washington, D.C. on an expansive site of five and a half acres of landscaped gardens overlooking the Potomac River. The Federal period mansion is a unified composition of parts: two story wings connected by one story hyphen structures to a handsomely proportioned central block noted for its unique entry Temple Portico, a circular domed and columned structure. Buff-colored stucco and a spare use of classical detail provide a unity of surface to the individual volumes. Many of the interiors have been maintained of the period and contain a valuable collection of furniture, china, silver, and other artifacts, many of which belonged to George and Martha Washington themselves. The gardens retain their original Federal period design including a boxwood ellipse with original boxwood from Mount Vernon. The gardens have both formal and informal areas both of which are home to a collection of period plants and flowers which include old roses very well preserved.
Tudor Place, built between 1795 and 1816, was the home to six generations, 180 years, of the Peter family. Thomas Peter, was the son of the first mayor of Georgetown, and he had had the good fortune to marry Martha Custis, granddaughter of Martha Washington. In his will, George Washington had bequeathed to his step-granddaughter $8000 which was used by Thomas Peter to purchase the property. The architect they engaged, Dr. William Thornton had been a close friend of George Washington. Thornton was self-taught, and he is also known for the design of the first United States Capitol and The Octagon. Peter family oral history has it that the Georgetown Heights property when purchased already had the two wings and perhaps one of the connecting hyphen structures. Thornton united the separate buildings into a whole with the second hyphen and most important the imposing central structure noted for its unique circular domed, columned portico. Spare neoclassical moldings and detail also served to unify the parts as well as buff-colored lime based stucco which covered brickwork executed in different years by different masons.
The High Definition Documentation (HDD) project at Tudor Place was conducted in two separate phases. The goal of Phase I in January 2007 was to document the existing stucco layer and all of superficial details, including cracks, scoring marks, and water stains. Because of the level of detail required, it was decided that a combination of laser scanning for extremely accurate geometry combined with high resolution, high dynamic range panoramic photography would be used. METCO Services conducted the scanning portion while high resolution photography was handled by CyArk. This first phase was conducted in 3 days, in which the entire exterior was documented, as well as a sample of interior rooms. The data was processed for several weeks and a set of AutoCAD drawings were produced showing the relevant details.
Tudor Place was lovingly and respectfully maintained by the Peter Family for 180 years. Nevertheless, the mansion's age has inevitably presented preservation challenges. The most pervasive has been guarding the buildings from moisture infiltration. To address this Tudor Place Foundation devised a two phased project. Phase I Drainage Replacement was completed in October 2006. It involved in replacing the c.1914 underground drainage system. The excavations for this project turned up many interesting artifacts and new information about construction. CyArk was brought in to assist with documentation for Phase II Stucco Replacement. The brick construction of Tudor Place was originally covered with lime based stucco, typical for the era for stylistic reasons and for masking nonuniform brick work of the structures built at different times. Stucco has been replaced twice in the building's history, once in 1871, and then again in 1914. The common wisdom in 1914 was to replace old lime based mortar with Portland cement stucco. However, this system prevented the natural expansion and contraction, "breathing", of the underlying brick and mortar masonry, and trapping moisture within, exacerbating previous infiltration problems. Therefore Phase II was conceived to removed the existing metal lath and Portland cement stucco and replace it with the traditional lime based stucco. High Definition Documentation, conducted in two phases itself, was conceived as a necessary part of Phase II. HDD accurately recorded the existing conditions including all cracks and fissures in the stucco before its removal and replacement. Then HDD recorded the existing conditions of the underlying masonry brickwork after the stucco had been removed, a most valuable record document since once the new stucco was applied, this information would otherwise be invisible. Exposing the original brickwork also presented new information to both conservators and historians for analysis and interpretation.
This Federal period mansion is a unified composition of parts: two story wings connected by one story hyphen structures to a handsomely proportioned central block noted for its unique entry Temple Portico, a circular domed and columned structure. Spare neoclassical moldings and detail also served to unify the parts as well as buff-colored, lime based stucco which covered brickwork executed in different years by different masons.
Many of the Federal Period interiors have been maintained. During 179 years of single-family ownership, an impressive collection of European and American decorative arts were amassed. Highlights include over 100 objects originally belonging to George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, an outstanding 19th-century American silver collection, and dozens of sets of porcelain family table settings. An extensive collection of furniture, glassware, sculpture, portraits, prints, and textiles tell the story of each generation.
Tudor Place has a floor plan typical of the Federal period-two parlors flanking a center room. During the construction of Tudor Place, an African American craftsmen named Sam Collins cast the plasterwork of this room and the Parlor in the Conservatory. The Drawing Room was the more formal of the two parlors. It was the scene of many formal entertainments, such as a reception for the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824. Today this room features a portion of the Peter family's extensive porcelain collection, including examples from the Meissen, Derby and Bow factories.
The Parlour was less formal than the Drawing Room and was used as both a parlor and a dining room through the late-19th century. During the Civil War, Britannia Peter Kennon took in Union boarders and it was in this room that they took their meals.
Today, this room showcases many Peter family treasures that were once owned by George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, including a tea table, Revolutionary War camp stool, and several important pieces of porcelain purchased by Washington when he was President in New York.
Visitors to Tudor Place during the Peter family's occupation would have entered through the center doors in the vestibule and walked straight into this room, the Saloon. The circular portico that extends into the space of the room is a prominent architectural feature of the house. The visitor is delighted by a floor to ceiling wall of glass, whose panes appear curved. The architect is practicing an optical illusion, however, for it is the woodwork that is curved and not the glass. Access to the South lawn is provided by the center windows of the Saloon, which open and can be pushed up into the wall above forming a door.
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