Benjamin Ogle Tayloe House

This Federal style home near the White House served as a gathering space for the politically powerful in Washington and is an important site to the women's suffrage movement.

Built in 1828, this home served as Benjamin Ogle Tayloe's residence and a social, intellectual, and cultural center for the political elite. Described as a "salon" for scholarly discourse and a space for high-society gatherings, the Federal style home exemplified early Washingtonian power. 

As a member of one of Washington's wealthiest slaveholding families, Benjamin Ogle Tayloe almost certainly utilized enslaved labor in the construction and management of the home. Much of his personal wealth stemmed from the inheritance and control of cotton plantations run through enslaved labor in Virginia and Alabama. 

Following Tayloe's death and subsequent shifts of home ownership, the space was sold to Senator J. Donald Cameron (R-PA). The home continued to play host to a variety of political icons and offered a convenient space for important diplomatic meetings. It was referred to as the "Little White House" during the time of Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, who often had breakfast in the home over complex discussions of contemporary issues. An addition, designed by the architectural firm of Hornblower & Marshall, was completed in 1893.

From 1915 to 1917, the home served as the headquarters of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (National Woman's Party), led by activist Alice Paul. During these years — shortly before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 — marches and demonstrations, including picketing at the nearby White House by the "silent sentinels," were planned and led by the organization. Infamously, many women's suffrage activists were arrested and sent to the Occoquan workhouse in Lorton, Virginia, where they were subjected to brutal treatment.

From 1917 to 1952, the Cosmos Club would occupy the home. The building then served briefly as NASA's headquarters during the space agency's early years. The building avoided demolition in the 1960s, thanks to support for preservation from Jackie Kennedy — an early advocate in the historic preservation movement. The building is a notable landmark of Lafayette Square and is sometimes referred to as the "Cameron" or "Tayloe-Cameron House." Today, the space is a part of the National Courts Building Complex. 

DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
National Register: November 2, 2023

Within the Lafayette Square Historic District

This site is included in the Capital City Slavery Tour as a site of enslavement for five to seven individuals and likely construction through enslaved labor. For further information on slavery in the District, view DC Preservation League's Capital City Slavery Digital Exhibit.



723 Madison Place NW Washington DC 20005