In Georgetown last week, at a loose end, I surprisingly found myself paying ten dollars for guided tour of a Federalist mansion named Tudor Place, once occupied by descendents of Martha Washington and consequently furnished with a few odds and ends loosely associated with her famous husband.
For the almost interminable duration of the tour, a snakelike shuffle of tourist feet along a braided rope winding its way through several preposterously staged rooms, these relatives of George and Martha, previously complete strangers to me, were transformed into distinguised celebrities whose every household decisions was of great historical import; their choice of Meissen china over Wedgewood being the domestic equivalent of growing wheat instead of tobacco.
Here is George Washington's camp stool, the tour is told, for some reason unfolded in the already overstuffed parlour. Through these French windows they watched the burning of the Capitol in 1814 (if anyone cares about the exact location of these non-entities during such as crisis). And on this very bedside table is a framed photograph of one of their favorite manumitted slaves, still laboring in his dotage by the looks of things.
The mansion's gardens, on the other hand, are very fine.