Designed by Geroge Hadfield (1763-1926), the Marine Corps Commandant’s House is the only original building on the complex. This white-painted, Flemish-bonded brick residence has served as the home of the Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps since its construction in 1801. A building of the larger complex, the Marine barracks served as the Marine Corps Headquarters from 1801 to 1901. Here, recruits and officers trained and strategized for war. Troops quartered at the Barracks played significant roles in the wars with the Barbary pirates, the War of 1812, the Seminole War, the capture of John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, and the conquest of Cuba in the Spanish-American War. In particular, when the British captured the Marine barracks in the War of 1812, they refrained from burning the barracks and the Commandant’s house out of respect for the Marines’ bravery at the Battle of Bladensburg (1814).
Over the years, the house has undergone several renovations and received several additions. Today, one of the most striking features of the Commandant’s House is its mansard roof, the tiles of which are regularly laid except for four center rows that display a detailed pattern. The interior decor of the house changes with each occupant. Air conditioning, electric lighting, and other modern conveniences have been added as well.