Part 3 of a three-part series about Georgetown.
GEORGETOWN - Never mind that the oldest neighborhood in the nation's capital doesn't possess an instantly recognizable ZIP code, a la Beverly Hills 90210.
Instead, Georgetown's cachet stems from its stature as one of America's most famously tony communities, one whose very name conjures images of power, money and style. That reputation is, in part, linked to the stately homes and many historic sites that edge these quiet, tree-lined streets, a world seemingly apart from the nearby plethora of boutiques, restaurants and galleries.
They're residences of former presidents, churches where the famous and not-so-famous worship, domestic refuges for world leaders and links to the area's deep-rooted African-American population.
Yet Georgetown's elegant Victorian mansions with multi-million dollar price tags and humble stone structures from centuries past represent more than mere bricks and mortar. These buildings have stories to tell.
"Oh, there are many stories, from politics and spies to scandal," says Anthony S. Pitch, a Potomac-based author and historian, whose company, D.C. Sightseeing, has earned national acclaim for "anecdotal" history tours.
These tours, which put a factual but entertaining spin on history, are growing increasingly popular nationwide.
His "Georgetown Homes of the Famous and Infamous" is sort of an intellectual, East Coast version of the famous "Hollywood Homes" tour.
Pitch, a former Associated Press editor who is writing a book on Lincoln, weaves historical notes, copious details and juicy tidbits.
Visitors see and hear about not only Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher education in the United States, but also Loyola Hall, the dorm where a young freshman named Bill Clinton lived in 1964.
Not far away is 3038 N St., where, in 1992, president-elect Clinton was feted by heiress Pamela Harriman, future French ambassador.
Along the way are a lengthy list of people and locations enshrined in American folklore and history.
There are homes of President Ulysses S. Grant and Supreme Court justices, as well as Washington Post editor and reporter Bob Woodward of Watergate fame. Also featured are the stairsteps made famous in the horror film The Exorcist. In recent decades, secretaries of state Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher and Henry Kissinger have all been Georgetown residents.
These types of tours transform modern history, making it more accessible and interesting, say experts.
"Simply telling tourists that 'George Washington slept here' is no longer acceptable," says Mary Kay Ricks, a tour guide and former attorney who operates Tour D.C.
Ricks does a variety of themed tours, including "Families of Old Georgetown," which visits everything from estates connected to George Washington to Underground Railroad sites.
Her seasonal jaunts that highlight John and Jacqueline Kennedy's years in Georgetown have been nationally profiled.
In fact, the era of Camelot continues to attract historians, tourists and curiosity seekers eager to view some dozen homes and locales linked to the couple. JFK lived in the community as a brand-new Massachusetts congressman. He met and courted Jackie there.
They were residents during Kennedy's presidential race and election, and for the birth of their children, Caroline and John Jr. After the president's assassination in 1963, Mrs. Kennedy lived in Georgetown for about 10 months, until crowds and security concerns were said to have precipitated her move to Manhattan.
What to see
Kennedy Homes of Georgetown: In a sense, Camelot began at 3260 N St., which JFK was renting when he met Jacqueline Bouvier at a dinner party. Later, at 1400 34th St., the couple courted in the home the future senator shared with sister Eunice Kennedy, before she married Sargent Shriver. Other homes include 3307 N St., the three-story Federal style house where presidential dreams took hold and where children Caroline and John Jr. first lived; and 3038 N St., the 14-room mansion where Mrs. Kennedy mourned after the president's assassination.
The Old Stone House (3051 M St., 202-426-6851): The National Park Service maintains this house, the only surviving pre-Revolutionary building in the capital. A study in 18th-century middle-class life, it includes a Colonial kitchen complete with tin lanterns, butter paddles and old-fashioned insect traps.
3238 R Street: This red brick Victorian mansion is linked to several U.S. presidents. Abraham Lincoln visited during the Civil War; Ulysses S. Grant rented it before moving to the White House in 1868; and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Brain Trust," a posse of brilliant young men who helped craft the New Deal legislation, lived here in the mid-1930s.
Tudor Place (1605 32nd St., 202-965-0400): The legacy President George Washington left to step-granddaughter Martha Custis Peter helped purchase this neoclassical mansion and urban estate. Its archives include letters, diaries, books, bills and photos from George and Martha Washington, while the garden has period flowers and rare roses.
1334 29th St.: Back when Georgetown had a sizable African-American population, the city's oldest black congregation was located at this site, which dates back to 1814. At the time, more than 100 blacks split from Montgomery Street Church, where they had been segregated.
Thomas Sim Lee corner (3001-3003 M St.): A corner plaque erected by Historic Georgetown Inc. honors Thomas Sim Lee, a Revolutionary War veteran and two-time governor of Maryland (1779-1782 and 1792-1794). The Georgetown library, built in 1935 at R Street and Wisconsin Avenue, was erected on land the Lees once owned, known as Lee's Hill.