June 13, 2012

Places: The Old Stone House, Georgetown

If I can't travel the world, then I'll gladly spend some quality time exploring Washington.

A few weeks ago, on a sticky, rainy afternoon, I took the bus into Georgetown after work, and finally visited The Old Stone House. Built in 1765, The Old Stone House is the oldest standing building in Washington. Originally a private home and shop, The Old Stone House has been run by the National Parks Department since 1953, and the inside looks like a pre-Revolutionary home. The bottom level, facing the street, which was originally a cabinet-maker's shop is now, in a healthy does of irony, a gift shop.

The house stands right in the middle of one of the busiest streets in Washington. Behind it, reaching back for almost a whole city block, is a lovely thin little garden. It's not really a destination garden, the way Dumbarton Oaks or Hillwood is. Rather, as you're bustling through a day of errands in Georgetown, or I'd you work down there, then pop in for fifteen minutes of peace.

Landscaped in the English style, with several levels, and a few hidden paths, the garden feels much larger than it is. Unruly native plants stand alongside formal garden roses surrounding a long, thin lawn. There are tall trees, a wall of ivy, and a little cluster of brilliant lupine surrounding a clapboard potting shed in the very back.

And somehow, through all of this, the city just melts away. The joyful birds' song drowns the throbbing engines and impatient horns on the street outside. Tired couples wander in for a bit of rest, sitting side by side on a bench sharing a few intimate words. Bubbly teenagers, hands full of shopping bags, quiet down and watch the butterflies, or playfully pick a daisy and count the petals. He loves me; he loves me not.

As with most things in our own backyards, I am sad I didn't discover this sooner. I worked down the street for a year, and always complained about not having a place to go for a lunch break. So, if you live in Georgetown or work in Georgetown: get acquainted with this charming little garden. And if you don't, but there is a little place you've been meaning to explore: go! See it!  And tell me about it!

3051 M Street, NW, Washington
House: open 7 days a week, 12-5 p.m.
Gardens: open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset

Photos: Mine, using VSCOcam app for iPhone.

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