The Maples stands as the oldest building on Capitol Hill. Also referred to as the Friendship House, this traditional Late Georgian-style dwelling was built between 1795 and 1796 by William Mayne Duncanson, a prosperous merchant. Duncanson’s estate was designed by local architect and builder William Lovering and originally consisted of the two-story, five-bay brick main house and the two-story detached outbuilding (which was originally used as slave quarters and a carriage house) that remains on the site today. At the time of its construction, the Maples stood among a handful of grand estates constructed during the early stages of development on Capitol Hill and in the city as a whole. It should be noted that many of its earliest owners were slaveholders.
Since its construction in the 1790s, the dwelling has undergone several significant renovations and additions that changed its original footprint. The most substantial of these changes occurred in 1937, when the original main block of the house with its mid-19th century additions was re-purposed as a settlement home operated by the Friendship House Association. Horace Peaslee, a nationally renowned architect, designed a series of one- to two-story additions and connected the detached outbuilding to them to accommodate the needs of the organization, making the dwelling a home and community center for the city’s disadvantaged youth.
Between 2012 and 2015, the Maples was renovated, new buildings were added to the property, and the entire complex converted into fourteen dwelling units. The Maples survives as an important vestige of the city’s early history.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
National Register: January 18, 1973
This site is included in the Capital City Slavery Tour for its role as a place of enslavement for numerous individuals in its early history. For further information on slavery in the District, view DC Preservation League's Capital City Slavery Digital Exhibit.