The Great Seal of California, Decatur House
This parquet flooring and wood representation of the great seal of California was installed in the Decatur House dining room between 1872 and 1874. It was part of several changes Edward Fitzgerald Beale and his wife, Mary Edwards Beale instituted after they purchased the property in 1871. The Beales were the last family to own Decatur House.
Completed in 1818, Decatur House was the third building on Lafayette Square and its first private residence. It was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the architect of the Capitol and several other famous buildings, for Commodore Stephen Decatur (1779-1820) and his wife, Susan Wheeler Decatur. Tragically, on March 22, 1820 Stephen Decatur was mortally wounded during a duel. After his death, his widow Susan Decatur rented out the house to foreign ministers and several secretaries of state. The house was eventually sold and passed through several hands, including the Gadsby family, the U.S. Subsistence Bureau, and the Beale family. Marie Ogle Beale, a society maven and the last owner left the house to National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1961. In 2010, the White House Historical Association and National Trust entered into a co-stewardship arrangement of Decatur House.