Like many people, we mistakenly thought that Dumbarton House was associated with nearby Dumbarton Oaks. Dumbarton House is a much smaller property. We were able to park in a lovely neighborhood nearby (we didn't realize there was some onsite parking) and stroll to the house.
The staff was very friendly and answered questions knowledgeably. We opted for self-guided tour though later we passed by a guided tour and though perhaps we should have taken that route. Each room is decorated with items original to the home or time-appropriate pieces. There are laminated cards in each room describing the significance of the room and its contents. One thing I found slightly confusing was that each room had a stack of cards. I initially assumed they were duplicates, but then my friend read something from his card that wasn't on mine and I realized that there were multiple pages to locate, but no indication of how many cards you were hunting for. It would be nice if they gave a better indication of how many cards exist for each room (Perhaps a header that says "page one of two" for example). In addition to the cards there are informative signs scattered around. There were four people in our group, so we did not have too much trouble clustering in the doorway of a room to get to the signage or cards. Larger groups would want to scatter to look at different rooms.
I really don't know how "special" this particular building is... Meaning I don't know if it's the only home of it's type open to tours, or the most accurate restoration, or whatever, so I don't know where it should be on your list of things to see. The house only has about 8 rooms on display, and can be explored in 30-45 minutes (including reading). So, if you're in the area, it could be a nice site to add.
I personally, enjoy touring buildings that represent the area when I'm traveling. I liked learning about the research that is being done into things like wall coverings... I'd never thought about anything like that! So, overall, I enjoyed our visit to Dunbarton House, but I would only recommend it to someone already in the area, or who is very interested in touring old homes.
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