We arrived between tours, so we had a few minutes to walk around the lobby area. Security was very strict here; our bags were looked at, and we had to go through metal detectors before getting our badge. You need a badge to tour the building. The member who greeted us suggested we might want to pass the time until the next tour by visiting the library. We did go to the library, but there is a charge to use it. Since neither of us has the slightest chance of finding an ancestor who fought or helped the Americans during the Revolutionary War, we decided to save our money.
We ended up getting a personal tour, just the two of us. We learned the history of the DAR, that they owe their existence to the fact that women were denied membership in the Sons of the American Revolution. The DAR building covers a whole city block, C to D Street between 17th and 18th St. Edward Casey designed the building, and the portico has 13 columns that represent the original 13 colonies. I made sure I identified the one with Connecticut’s name on it.
The library was formerly a theater, and we visited it sitting in what would have been the box seats. We had a bird’s-eye view of all the bookcases. There are flags hanging all around the room, representing the states, and they are hung in the order that they entered the union. The ceiling is made of glass, and the windows open like skylights to let in ventilation.
There are over 30 rooms maintained by the membership of their respective states. Each guide will show different rooms; they all have their favorites, but they will try to show you your home state if they have a room. We began with Massachusetts. It is a Sam Adams-period room with furniture from the 18th century. My favorite is a tea box said to have been one of those thrown into Boston Harbor. (The fact that it has no water damage may put a lie to that story.) Not all of the rooms are period rooms; some of them are collections. Our room, Connecticut, was the board room. We also saw New Jersey, Texas, and New York. All of them were very different, and each one had its own unique flavor. I look forward to visiting again so I can see some of the other rooms.
There is a very nice gift shop and a small museum behind it. Allow at least an hour for your visit.
June 11, 2003
From journal Iz and Irene in DC