NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, Dupont Circle, Architecturally Significant, Children’s Literature, Female, Also of Interest

Isabel Weld Perkins Anderson
(March 3, 1876 – November 3, 1948)

Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Dupont Circle neighborhood, DC. Now the Headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati, and a National Historic Landmark.

A Boston-born heiress, Perkins met the equally pedigreed career diplomat Larz Anderson III in Rome while on a world tour. After their marriage the two spent their time between palatial homes in Boston and Washington. They spent three years (1902-1905) building this 50-room Italianate palace with the intention that the house and all its furnishings be bequeathed to the Society of the Cincinnati for a headquarters and museum.

In their time they were the wealthiest residents of DC. Long after the practice had been abandoned by the elite, the Andersons maintained liveried footmen in powdered wigs at formal dinner parties into the 1940s. They collected art throughout their world travels. Their house is famous for its opulent ballroom, elaborate frescoes and the use of 18 different colors of marble to decorate the interiors.

Perkins wrote a number of volumes of poetry, travelogues and children's stories including The Spell of Japan (1914), Zigzagging the South Seas (1918), The Spell of the Hawaiian Islands and the Philippines(1919), Topsy Turvy and the Gold Star (1920), and Circling Africa (1929). She also published a memoir, Presidents and Pies: Life in Washington 1897-1919 (1920).

Perkins wintered in this palatial mansion with Anderson until her death in 1948. She is interred in Washington National Cathedral.

Architect: Arthur Little and Herbert Browne
Year: 1905
Designed as a grand winter residence, a showcase for their collection of art and historic artifacts, and the site of high society galas, this Baroque mansion is notable for its hand-crafted interiors, including carved wooden walls, gilded plaster ceilings, ornate iron staircases, and marble floors. The house also includes a two-story ballroom. Opened as a museum in 1939, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996.


Society of the Cincinnati