Anderson House was built between 1902 and 1905 in the heart of Dupont Circle, at that time our capital's most fashionable neighborhood. At a cost of nearly $750,000, the Boston firm Arthur Little & Herbert Browne designed this fifty-room Beaux Arts mansion to be the winter home of Larz Anderson III (1866-1937), an American diplomat, and his wife, Isabel (1876-1948), an author and Red Cross volunteer. The original property also included a walled garden, tennis courts, and a three-story stable and carriage house. The eclectic interiors of Anderson House feature the painstaking work of craftsman who adorned the house with carved wood walls, gilded papier-mache ceilings, ornate iron staircases, and intricate marble floors. The house was embellished with all the latest conveniences, including electricity, central heat, telephones, and elevators.
The Andersons built their winter residence in Washington, D.C., in order to entertain American and foreign dignitaries and the capital city's high society in a grand setting. For thirty-two years, Larz and Isabel Anderson were among the most popular hosts in the capital. During the Washington social season, the Andersons hosted diplomatic and inaugural receptions, formal dinners and luncheons, concerts, and performances of Isabel's plays. The Andersons' guest lists included Presidents William H. Taft and Calvin Coolidge, Sir Winston Churchill, General John J. Pershing, Henry A. du Pont, and members of the Vanderbilt family. Anderson House also served a public role as the occasional residence of foreign dignitaries on official visits to the United States, including the visits of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium in 1919 and King Pradjadhipok and Queen Rambai Barni of Siam (now Thailand) in 1931.
Larz and Isabel Anderson's Washington home represented the culmination of what America's founders, and many of the original members of the Society of the Cincinnati, hoped their capital city would become; a grand, modern metropolitan center, rivaling European capitals, but with a patriotic identity and a sense of history that would make it distinctively American. When Larz died in 1937 with no children, his widow oversaw the gift of Anderson House and much of its original furnishings to the Society of the Cincinnati, of which Larz had been a devoted member.
Anderson House has been the headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati since 1938 and was opened to the public as a museum in 1939. A general restoration of the house was completed in 1998. Anderson House has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.