Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is this house a National Park Service site?
It is thought to be one of the oldest standing structure in Washington, DC
2. What is significant about the house?
It is the last Pre-Revolutionary (Colonial) building standing in Washington, DC on it’s original foundation.
3. Who built and lived in the house?
The 1st owner was Christopher Layman, his wife Rachel, and two sons.
4. When was the house built?
Oldest portion of the house was built in 1765. It was a one-room, one-story home built for the Layman family.
5. Who owned the house after Christopher Leyman?
The 2nd owner was Cassandra Chew. She bought the property in 1767 and added on a kitchen and upper level to the home. The home remained in the family from 1767 to 1875.The “Layman home” was converted into a merchants shop and the home served as both a residence and a place of business.
6. When was the rest of the house built?
In the early 1790’s, it was discovered that home was constructed approximately 6 feet over on the adjacent property. The west wall of the home had to be removed and brought in the appropriate distance. When this occurred the top-most floor of the home was added. The third floor of the Old Stone House contains three rooms; a storage room, and a room thought to be used as a primary storage area or a room to quarter slaves, and a children’s bedroom. The children’s bedroom is the only room in the house that contains a closet.
7. How was the front room used?
There where many types of shops in the front room, including: a hat shop, a tailor shop, a locksmith shop, a clockmakers shop, a house roofing business, a house-painting business and used car dealership.
8. How much of the house is original?
The home is approximately 85% original to its 1700’s construction.
9. How much of the furnishing are original and what period are they from?
The house is furnished to reflect upper-middle class living during the late 1700’s. The only furnishing which has a connection to the home is the grandfather clock located in the dining room. It is believed that the clock was made in the merchant’s shop during the early 1800’s.
10. How can you tell how the house was made?
Signatures of the craftsmen who constructed the home can be seen by the tool marks left in the wood and stones in the home.
11. How big is the lot?
The garden area of the property reflects an English style garden. The lot measures 399 feet deep and approx 76 feet wide.
12. Why did the residents of Georgetown want the house preserved?
Local legend and folklore stated that the house was the place where Pierre L’Enfant stayed while designing Washington, DC. However, the legend proved to be false. The actual location that L’Enfant stayed at was Suter’s Tavern, which was located at 31st & K streets.
13. How was the house being used when the NPS bought it?
In 1951, the owner of the property considered demolishing the home to open up the property. At this time, the house was used as office space for the Parkway Motor Company and the garden area was used as a used car lot. That same year, local citizens of Georgetown petitioned Congress to purchase the house and property in an effort to save the home.
14. When did the National Park Service acquire the house?
In 1953, the United States government purchased the home and property for the sum of $90,000. The home and property was turned over to the National Park Service.
15. How did the National Park Service restore the house?
From 1953 to 1960, the National Park Service removed the majority of 19th and 20th intrusions to the home. The property was transformed form the used car lot into the lush, English style garden that is present today.
16. When was the house opened to the public?
The house opened to the public in 1960.
17. Who has managed the house for the NPS?
Originally it was a part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, stewardship of the house was transferred to the C&O Canal National Historical Park. In the late 1980’s, stewardship was finally transferred to Rock Creek Park.
18. Are weddings permitted in the garden?
Weddings are permitted in the garden area with the appropriate permit obtained through the permits officer of Rock Creek Park (202) 895-6000.