Skip to Main Content

Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Michael F. Dwyer, 11/1973
Fort Washington
Inventory No.: PG:80-16
Other Name(s): Fort Warburton
Date Listed: 10/15/1966
Location: 13551 Fort Washington Road , Fort Washington, Prince Georges County
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1808-1921
Architect/Builder: Architect: T. Maurice, W. K. Armistead
Description: Fort Washington consists of an enclosed masonry fortification entered by a drawbridge across a dry moat, and numerous brick buildings. The walls, with a battered stone base and brick superstructure, rise 60' above a V-shaped water battery. The entrance is marked by a stone, classical revival portico, with heavily rusticated columns. Within the parade are two multi-bayed brick buildings--a barracks and an Officers' Quarters. Both have two-story porches across their facades. Several gun mounts within the fortifications have been restored. Just outside the walls are two brick buildings. The c. 1921 three bay wide brick Commandant's House is two stories high with two small dormers on the south side of the roof and one on the north side. The other is the Non-Commissioned Officers' Quarters. Completed c. 1903-1906, this duplex has a brick on stone foundation with a slate gable roof with a lunette window at each end and two center chimneys. The windows have segmental relieving arches and stone sills. The two identical apartments on the interior share a common porch on the east side. At the foot of the hill below the Commandant's House is a long 1 1/2-story brick building built c. 1821 and known as the Sergeant's House. The gable roof, with two interior chimneys, extends to cover a veranda supported by posts. The 1906 PX building is brick on a stone foundation with a wooden classical portico over the main entrance. Significance: Fort Washington displays three generations of harbor defense works within the space of a few hundred yards. Although its masonry structure is generally of Third System style, it was planned and begun between the Second and Third phases of coastal fortification design. The second phase refers to forts constructed during the years 1807-1814. The third phase refers to forts constructed or restored between 1817-1867. An earlier fort was located on the site, constructed in 1808 and destroyed by its commander in 1814, during the War of 1812. The fort was named after George Washington, who selected the site as one favorable to the erection of a fortification to protect the new capital city. It is this relationship to the first president and to the emerging capital city which provides the fort's significance in American politics and government. The military engineering and architectural significance of Fort Washington lies in its structures, which represent important stages in the coastal defense system of the United States over a hundred-year period (1815-1921); its archeological resources include remnants of the first fort, constructed in 1808, and the foundations of buildings used to house soldiers outside the four walls. These archeological resources will contribute significant information on the structure of the original fort and on the extent and architectural style of buildings used at various periods to house the troops garrisoned at Fort Washington, particularly during the Endicott Battery period. This significance is enhanced by the geographic location of the fort, which has served as the permanent coastal defense for the capital city during a period when defense of that single site by land and sea was perceived as critical to national security. During the Civil War, forty Marines from the U.S. Navy Yard were ordered to Fort Washington in January 1861. The Union was well aware of the need to protect the capital form hostile and unsympathetic forces in nearby Maryland and Virginia.


Return to the National Register Search page