Washington DC History Resources

Matthew B. Gilmore

Washington DC Obscura Day events May 30, 2015



Explore the hidden wonders of the world with Atlas Obscura


What is Obscura Day?

It’s more than 150 events in 39 states and 25 countries, all on a single day, and all designed to celebrate the world’s most curious and awe-inspiring places.


Washington, D.C.

Protecting the Capitol

Washington, D.C.

From legendary stones to a hidden fort, join us as we discover what protected the Capitol.

Deep inside of Rock Creek Park lie two Washington D.C. legends.

Since the British burned down the U.S. Capitol in 1814, the home of our lawmakers has been subjected to major alterations. In the 1950s, during one particular renovation, a number of the original stone blocks – some dating back to the early 19th century – were stored in Rock Creek Park, this history hidden from the public eye. Until now.

Join architecture historian and photographer Bill Lebovich on a half mile jaunt to find these legendary stones. He will give details on the history and story behind the Capitol stones.

After this journey, we will be joined by Atlas Obscura‘s CEO and host of the popular Slate Political Gabfest podcast David Plotz to help us discover Fort DeRussy, conveniently located just across the way.

Washington, D.C. was a garrison city during the Civil War with Confederate armies menacing the capital from every direction. Early on in the war, the Union Army ringed the city with a series of earthen defense forts. Most of these forts have disappeared, leaving nothing but their names across the region (Fort Totten Metro, Fort Dupont Park, Battery Kemble), but two of them still stand, including the mysterious and nearly-swallowed-by-the-forest Fort DeRussy.


Saturday, May 30th; 12pm – 2pm

Cost: $20

Location: Meet in the parking lot of the Rock Creek Nature Center – 5200 Glover Road 

*Your ticket is for both tours, but you are welcome to only come to one if time is short. We will take a short five minute break at 1 pm prior to the Fort DeRussy tour.* 


Sinners & Scoundrels

Washington, D.C.

Join us on Obscura Day as we take a trip to discover the secrets hidden six feet below at Congressional Cemetery.

Over the last two hundred years, Congressional Cemetery in southeast DC has become the final resting place for sinners, wealthy madams, unscrupulous politicians, scoundrels, and secretive FBI directors.

Join us for a delightful Obscura Day jaunt around the cemetery hearing their stories led by the docents and experts of Congressional Cemetery.

Additionally, the Public Vault, where the recently deceased laid prior to burial, will be opened for guests.  This is the very vault that three Presidents, a Vice-President, and Dolley Madison once occupied upon their passing from the mortal world.

If you were unable to get tickets to our April event with Congressional Cemetery, this is a great opportunity to take the tour!


Saturday May 30th, 1pm to 2pm

Cost: $10

Location: Congressional Cemetery – 1801 E St SE

*This is a walking tour, so please prepare for about a mile walk.*

Tickets will go fast for this exclusive event, so please purchase early!


Under the District

Washington, D.C.

Explore the subterranean trolley station under Dupont Circle that was left in ruins.

In 1949, a subterranean streetcar station was opened beneath Washington, D.C.’s iconic Dupont Circle to help relieve traffic congestion. It was closed only 13 years later and has been largely abandoned ever since.

Until now: The nonprofit Dupont Underground is transforming the space into a cultural destination.

Join the group’s managing director, Braulio Agnese, as we go under the city’s streets for an exclusive tour of these forgotten tunnels and platforms. We will learn about the history of this unique urban space and the potential it holds as a place for arts, design, and performance.

For Obscura Day only, there will be two guided tours: 9:30 AM & 10:30 AM. AND JUST ADDED – 11:30 AM TOUR!

Please be aware of which one you sign up for!

This is an underground walking tour, so please dress accordingly and wear comfortable shoes.

Tickets will go fast for this exclusive event, so please purchase early! Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Dupont Underground’s fundraising efforts.

ALL TICKET SALES ARE FINAL. Questions, please contact matt@atlasobscura.com.


The Secrets of the Society of Cincinnati

Washington, D.C.

Come explore how the Society of Cincinnati changed American history.

Join us on Obscura Day as we learn about the Society of Cincinnati and its mission in honoring those who brought America its independence.

On an exclusive, specially-guided tour, we will explore the Society’s historic headquarters at the Anderson House, the history of the Society of the Cincinnati, the significance of the American Revolution, plus collections from of the home’s first owners, Larz and Isabel Anderson.

Since 1938, the Society has made its headquarters at Anderson House, where it has worked to advance its mission to honor the men and women who won American independence in the Revolutionary War.

Also, as a special treat, we will be given behind-the-scenes access to a few secrets within the house not open to the public!


Time: Saturday, May 30th; 11:30am

Cost: $10

Location: 2118 Massachusetts Ave  NW




Save Our Seminary

Silver Spring, Maryland

Join us on Obscura Day as we explore long-forgotten National Park Seminary.

From a resort to a girls’ school to a hospital, the National Park Seminary has undergone a lot of change.

Originally built as a summer resort hotel in the late 1800s, the property soon became National Park Seminary, a private school for young women. During World War II, Walter Reed Hospital took over the school for a rehabilitation center, and now, after decades of neglect, the old school campus buildings have been renewed as private residences.

Of the two dozen historic buildings in an eclectic collection of styles, most are occupied, but several remain still in decay awaiting their new life.

The tour will include a walk around the entire property telling the story of why these unusual buildings are here in Maryland. We will also go inside to see the treasures that await within.


Saturday, May 30th; 4pm – 5:30pm

Cost: $12

Location: 2755 Cassedy Street, Silver Spring, MD

*This is a walking tour that is both inside and outside*

Part of the ticket proceeds will be donated to the Save Our Seminary.

Tickets will go fast for this exclusive event, so please purchase early!




Hands On at the National Firearms Museum

Fairfax, Virginia

Go behind-the-scenes at the NRA National Firearms Museum for a hands-on session with historic guns.

Take a special behind-the-scenes tour of the NRA National Firearms Museum, in Fairfax, Virginia where thousands of historic and unusual firearms are waiting.

Led by experienced museum curators, this unique tour will take visitors behind the exhibits into areas where visitors normally don’t tread. Following the tour a hands-on session with historic guns will allow participants to handle famous guns from the California Gold Rush through World War II.

Advance purchase highly recommended; space is extremely limited!

Saturday, May 30; 9am – 10am
Cost: $10
National Firearms Museum
NRA Headquarters
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

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