Entry hall of the Arts Club (Photo: Alexander Morozov)
Please Note: Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for participation on all tours; additionally, current CDC and Smithsonian COVID-19 guidelines (at the time of the tour) will be followed, including but not limited to masks on the bus and indoors.
Washington, D.C., is filled with public spaces, monuments, and buildings that define its architectural history and its essence as a city. But much of that character is also shaped by its distinctive residences. Discover two such houses on intimately scaled tours that immerse you in the elegance of the early 19th-century and the extravagance of the Gilded Age.
A private club with a public mission to foster the arts in the nation’s capital, the Arts Club of Washington has made its home in a former president’s house since its founding in 1916. Join the club’s historian and archivist Martin Murray as he offers an overview of the architecture and history of the handsome Federal-era clubhouse just a few blocks from the White House—a National Historic Landmark that once served as the official presidential residence of James Monroe—and shares the lively history of how Arts Club members helped shape Washington’s cultural landscape.
View art exhibitions in three galleries, discover a sculpture-accented walled garden in the heart of downtown, and imagine what it might have been like to attend President Monroe’s post-inaugural receptions in the chandelier-lit second-floor parlors. And learn how the house’s long tradition of hospitality endures by enjoying a three-course lunch prepared by the club’s chef Patrick Orange, the former chef-owner of La Chaumière Restaurant in Georgetown.
After the meal, stroll from Foggy Bottom to the Dupont Circle neighborhood and step into Gilded-Age Washington at its most lavish at the Perry Belmont House. Just recently opened to the public, the 1909 Beaux Arts mansion on New Hampshire Avenue was conceived by Perry Belmont, a New York State congressman who also served as America’s ambassador to Spain, as a grand setting in which to entertain Washington notables and international dignitaries. He and wife Jessie Ann spared no expense in building and furnishing their home, designed by French architect Ernest-Paul Sanson.
A staff member leads a private tour through the house, filled with sweeping staircases, reception rooms decorated in a variety of styles, a wood-paneled ballroom, Tiffany art glass and French furniture, and a rare gilded Steinway B grand piano. The imposing Italian Renaissance-style dining room features a ceiling from a Venetian doge’s palace, purchased by the Belmonts in 1908. It’s the perfect setting to raise a glass of sparkling wine and close a day spent exploring two of Washington’s most historic and beautiful mansions.
Additional Date Option
- Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, September 13, 2022.
- Each tour is limited to 20 participants.
- Participants meet outside the Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I St., NW in Washington, DC.
- Lunch is provided as part of the program.
- The day includes 1 mile of city walking.
- For additional tour information: