Dazzled by the houses he saw in the Washington, D.C. area, U.S. Senator Alexander Ramsey was determined to build a mansion to reflect his family’s station in life. Situated on the site of their first home (which was moved across the street), the limestone single-family dwelling includes three stories, 15 major rooms, porches, bathrooms, a modern heating system, and a generous lawn. It was certainly a huge jump from the apartment above a saloon that housed the young family when they arrived in 1849.

Construction cost in 1872 was nearly $41,000, including the fence and fireplace mantles. The modern boiler and plumbing added about $5,000 to the final cost. And then came the task of furnishing the mansion. That fell to the woman of the house, Anna Jenks Ramsey.

Mrs. Ramsey visited the A.T. Stewart department store in New York to buy new furnishings for the home. One unusual point was that she was able to make use of mass-produced furniture and accessories which were just coming into style. Her purchases almost filled two railroad boxcars and the Ramseys and 19-year-old daughter Marion moved into the new house in September 1872.

Today, visitors can see more than 14,000 original furnishings and get a taste of what Victorian-era life was like for the family living in the Alexander Ramsey House.