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1814–1824, T. Maurice, W. K. Armistead; 1840s remodeled; 1891–1896 additions. 13551 Fort Washington Rd.

Fort Washington was a key coastal defense location overlooking the Potomac River in the early years of the nation’s capital. The first fort built in 1808 was destroyed by its own garrison in 1814 as British forces overtook and burned Washington during the War of 1812. Renamed Fort Washington after the first U.S. president, it was rebuilt between 1814 and 1824 and then remodeled in the 1840s. Prior to construction of the ring of Civil War forts around the capital, it served as Washington’s main defense. Like many military installations, Fort Washington was altered and expanded many times over its decades of service. Most notable was implementation of the Endicott System starting in 1891, which added eight batteries with new concrete emplacements and rifled steel guns.

Fort Washington’s role as harbor defense was short-lived, with the large guns removed before World War I and the fort used as a staging ground for troops shipping out to France. In the interwar years it housed the 3rd Battalion 12th Infantry, which functioned at the ceremonial unit for the Military District of Washington. The post was abandoned in 1939 and slated to be demolished for bridge and parkway construction. However, World War II delayed the transfer, and Fort Washington was quickly pressed into service as the Adjutant General School for officers. In 1946 Fort Washington became part of the National Park Service (NPS), which maintains and interprets its historic features, including the brick and stone fortification walls with a neoclassical stone portal, brick officers’ quarters and barracks buildings flanking the parade ground, and a c. 1821 Commandant’s House converted into a NPS visitor center.

Writing Credits

Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie



  • 1814

  • 1840

  • 1891


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Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie, "FORT WASHINGTON NATIONAL PARK", [Fort Washington, Maryland], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Maryland, Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2022, 288-288.

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