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Quick Facts

Condition: Original
Floor: First
Parent Location: Mansion

Where is it Located

About the Central Passage

The central passage is the entryway into the Washingtons' home. Entertaining also occurred in the central passage, particularly during hot Virginia summers when the family gathered here to enjoy breezes from the open doorways. The elegant space, which runs the width of the house, provides magnificent views of the Potomac River and the Maryland shoreline to the east and of the Bowling Green, fields, and woods beyond to the west.

When George Washington enlarged the house, in 1758 and 1759, he added the native black walnut staircase to the central passage. Being prudent and practical, he moved the earlier staircase to provide access to the newly constructed third floor. The pine paneling on the first floor was also installed during the initial enlargement; later, in 1797, the paneling was grained, or painted, to imitate more expensive mahogany.

In this central hall, you will find the Key to the Bastille, given to Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette in 1790, after the destruction of this infamous prison in Paris.

Virtual Tour