The slave quarters is one of the few such dwellings in an urban setting, and the only physical proof that slaves were held near the White House. Decatur House is located one block north of the White House, on Lafayette Square.
Afterward, Mrs. Obama toured several rooms, including one that researchers concluded had been a kitchen because of the dark splotches on a brick wall made by an oven, as well as splatters of animal fat on the wall that were made during cooking.
She also visited with a group of sixth-graders from a Fairfax, Va., elementary school that was participating in an educational program based on the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, including a 12-year-old dressed up as Abraham Lincoln. They weren’t told about their special visitor and the jaws of several students dropped each time the first lady entered the different rooms they were in.
Decatur House was built for Navy Commodore Stephen Decatur. It was bequeathed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1956. The National Center for White House History was established there in 2010.
Decatur House also is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site.