Prospect House – Washington, D.C. - Atlas Obscura

Prospect House

An 18th-century townhouse that once hosted guests of the president. 


Also known as Lingan-Templeman House, this historic residence is a late 18th-century freestanding Georgian mansion that once served as a guest house for visiting dignitaries and other guests of the president while the Blair House, which was usually used for such purposes, underwent renovations.

The stately home was designed by architect William Thornton, who also designed the U.S. Capitol building. Visitors to the house included President John Adams, and Gilbert du Motier, the marquis de Lafayette. The property on which Prospect House stands was purchased by General James Maccubin Lingan in 1788. Lingan was one of the 19 original proprietors who signed the agreement for the establishment of the District of Columbia.

It is believed that Prospect House was built during the five years that Lingan owned the property, which he sold in 1793 to John Templeman, a prominent Bostonian transplant and overseer of the construction of Georgetown Bridge, which spanned the Potomac River.

The house remained in Templeman’s family until 1858, when it was sold to Dr. Thomas T. Mann, who sold it to William Templeton a mere two years later. In the space of a year, Templeton added an “octagonal protuberance” and third story to the house before flipping it to Civil War General William H. Whiton.

Other notable owners of the house include Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, Congressman Richard Thurmond Chapman and his wife Patricia Firestone Coyner, and David and Carol Ann Shapiro. The grounds feature gardens, a veranda, a gazebo, and a pool, and there is a remarkable U-shaped stairway that runs from the first floor through the third floor inside the house. 

Know Before You Go

Prospect House was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1972. 

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March 13, 2023

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