MHT File Photo
George Washington House
4302, Baltimore Avenue (US 1), Bladensburg, Prince Georges County
The George Washington House, or Indian Queen Tavern, in Bladensburg, is a fairly simple but impressive structure in contrast to its surroundings. The brick building stands 2 1/2 stories high, with basic mid-and late-18th century characteristics. Facing east, the principal facade is five bays wide, of common-bond brick, with wide centrally located doors at both first and second floor levels. Most openings have flat jack arches, and the first floor door is headed by an unusual serpentine-shaped arch of molded stretcher brick. The gable end walls are constructed of Flemish bond. On the south gable end, the door and window have segmental relieving arches. On the north end, a segmental arch indicates a former doorway. First floor windows are 6/9 sash while second floor are 6/6. A reconstructed two-story porch covers the front facade of the building. On the front slope of the roof are three 6/6 sash gable-roofed dormer windows. At each gable end is a single exterior chimney with irregular weatherings with those sloping towards the rear being longer than those sloping towards the front. Toward the east side of both chimney bases is a single flat-arched door. The one on the south end appears to be an alteration of a previous window. Adjacent to the east side of the south chimney is the small segmental-arched window of header brick and two small attic windows within the gable. Aside from the bricked-in door at the north end the only other opening is a single small window at attic level. Much of the rear wall of the house is hidden by a later, two-story frame addition. However, two irregularly positioned windows remain exposed toward the south end at the second floor level. On the rear roof slope are two gable-roofed dormers, each positioned towards the ends of the house. Of interest on the exterior of the main house is the Flemish bonding of the end walls, contrasting to the common bond of the principal facade, lending credence to the theory that a galleried porch was part of the original plan. A replacement shed-roofed two-story galleried porch now covers the east facade. The eave cornices are boxed and have molded trim, and appear to be of a later (19th century) date. The tavern was built on dressed stone foundation walls that rise about two feet above the ground line.
The Indian Queen Tavern gained its reputation as the "George Washington House" through an assumption that "George Washington slept here." Research in primary sources has shown that the extant structure was never a tavern during Washington's lifetime, although it is possible that he stayed in the frame Indian Queen Tavern formerly located next to the present structure. The brick tavern began to be known as the "George Washington House" before 1878 when it was being used as a hotel. The building is historically significant for a variety of reasons. It has been closely associated with a number of important personages and events and it has served the community of Bladensburg for more than 200 years in a multitude of ways. The structure stands today as the last surviving remnant of a social and commercial complex established by Jacob Wirt in Bladensburg during the early 1760s. This complex included a store (represented by a portion of the existing building), a billiard hall, a tavern, a counting house, a blacksmith's shop, and a number of other supporting buildings. Between 1774 and 1783, the complex was rented and run by Peter Carnes, who was responsible for the first authenticated balloon ascents, either manned or unmanned, in the United States. The building is notable for its more than 200 years of service to the Town of Bladensburg as a store from c. 1763 until 1809 or later, as a private home from c. 1832 to 1854, again as a store from 1854 until 1857, as a tavern, hotel, and store from 1857 to 1858 (and possibly until the mid 1860s), and as a tavern and hotel from 1871 until the 20th century. It is little wonder then that the George Washington House has become a local landmark with a rich and distinctive history of its own composed of both historical facts and homespun legend.