Your Marine Barracks Washington D.C. Area Guide
Marine Barracks Washington D.C. dates back more than 200 years. It is the oldest active post in the Marine Corps, supporting both ceremonial and security missions in the nation's capital. President Thomas Jefferson and Lt. Col. William Ward Burrows, the second Commandant of the Marine Corps, founded the Barracks in 1801.
The Marines assigned to the Barracks participate as funeral escorts for dignitaries and also ceremonial honor guard for state functions. Furthermore, the Marines also provide security for Camp David and the White House.
WHERE ARE THE MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON D.C.?
Frequently referred to as "8th & I" or "The Barracks" this historical post is located literally on the corners of 8th & I Streets in southeast Washington D.C.
It hosts the Home of the Commandants, which, along with the Barracks, is a registered national historic landmark.
The selection of the 8th & I site was a matter of personal interest to President Jefferson, who made a horseback tour through Washington with Lt. Col. Burrows in search of a suitable location. They chose the location due to its proximity to the Washington Navy Yard and because it was within easy marching distance of the Capitol.
The Barracks is also home to many nationally recognized units, including the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, the Marine Band, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the official Marine Corps Color Guard, and the Marine Corps Body Bearers.
Until 1901, it was also the location of Marine Corps Headquarters. Marines from the Barracks participated in the defense of Washington in the War of 1812, and served in the Indian Wars of 1826-37, the war with Mexico, the Civil War, and the Spanish American War. Most recently, Marines from the Barracks deployed to Southwest Asia and participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
The main tenant at Marine Barracks Washington is the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Barracks has been the residence of every commandant of the Marine Corps since 1806. The Home of the Commandants at the north end of the Barracks was completed in 1806 and is the only original building still standing today. It is the oldest public building in continuous use in Washington D.C.
When originally built, the house measured 25 by 32 feet and contained four large rooms and a central hallway on each floor, a kitchen in the basement and servant's quarters in the attic.
Renovations and additions have expanded the house to 15,000 square feet, including 30 rooms not counting closets or baths. The decor has always been dictated by the personal tastes of each commandant and his family.
The Home of the Commandants was one of the few buildings not burned by the British when they sacked the Capitol in 1814. In 1916, Maj. Gen. George Barnett, the 12th Commandant, approached then-acting secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the idea of having portraits painted of all former Marine Corps Commandants to document the successive changes in uniforms. The idea was approved, and today portraits of all of the commandants hang in the house, with one exception.
The conspicuously missing spot belongs to Lt. Col. Anthony Gale, the fourth Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was the only Commandant ever to be fired from the position and the one with the fewest surviving records. No one knows what he looked like or even knows the location of his final resting place.
Also housed on the Barracks are members of the senior leadership of the Corps stationed locally. Single or geo-baching troops frequently live in high-rise housing just across the street from the Barracks.
On-base family housing is not available at the Barracks. Many families choose to live in nearby Northern Virginia. You can check out local neighborhood reviews written by fellow military families at PCSgrades.com. You can also read base housing reviews for Fort Belvoir, Fort Myer, Joint Base Anacostia Bolling, and Andrews Air Force Base.
BAH & COST OF LIVING
Sticker shock is common for those PCSing to the National Capital Region. Your BAH is probably higher than your last duty station, but your cost of living will be higher also. The average sales price for a 3-bedroom house in Fairfax County was $512,500 in December of 2018; this is up nearly 4 % from January of 2017. The housing market in Northern Virginia is currently hugely competitive, and it's common for sellers to receive multiple bids.
To read the latest on the NOVA Housing Market, click here.
The Barracks does not feature any of the regular amenities often found on a military installation. With so many nearby, it is not really a problem. Bolling, Fort Myer/Henderson Hall, Fort Belvoir, and Andrews AFB all have commissaries, MWR, ITT, Theatres, and Exchanges. Fort Belvoir and Walter Reed are home to major hospitals and specialty care.
There are no schools located at the Marine Barracks but there are many different school districts available in the Washington D.C. area to include public charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling options depending on where you find housing. The Family Readiness Officer at 202-433-4881 can answer specific questions about the area. Local public school districts in northern Virginia are also very highly rated.
There are four distinct seasons in the mid-Atlantic region to include Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas. Winters are relatively mild with an average snowfall of 15.4 inches, most of it falling in January and February. Springtime features the blooming of the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin. People come from all over the world to view these delicate flowering trees which only bloom for a couple of weeks during the year. Summers can be as steamy as the politics with temperatures rising above 100 on some days in July and August. The mild temps tend to stick around in September and October, and by Halloween, the fall foliage is in its full splendor with the vivid colors of autumn.
CULTURE & CUSTOMS
What the Barracks does offer is a lot of history. The Barracks has been home to the United States Marine Band for more than 200 years. President John Adams began a tradition of having the band play at many White House functions, so much so, the Marine Band became known as the "President's Own."
John Philip Sousa, as director of the Marine Band, wrote many of his immortal marches during his time at the Barracks.
The Evening Parades at the Barracks are legendary and it's a great activity when out-of-town guests visit. The parades are conducted on Fridays beginning in May and running through August. "The President's Own" United States Marine Band, "The Commandant's Own" United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Marine Corps Color Guard, the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, Ceremonial Marchers, and Cpl. Chesty XV, the official mascot of Marine Barracks Washington all perform during the hour and fifteen minute event. There is no charge for admission, but reservations are strongly recommended. You will long remember this night of musical performance and precision marching!
You do not have to go far to enjoy the area attractions in and around Washington D.C.
Our Nation's Capital is home to the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the National Air & Space Museum.
The Pentagon 9/11 memorial in northern Virginia is not to be missed. It is usually one of the first stops for military families when they arrive on orders.
Annapolis, Maryland – 32 miles; 1-hour drive – Gorgeous town, quaint restaurants and the Naval Academy!
St. Michael's, Maryland – 79 miles; 1.5-hour drive – Maryland's Eastern Shore features crabs and scenic water views like no other!
Richmond, Virginia – 108 miles; 2-hour drive – Virginia State Capital with a thriving restaurant scene and craft beer breweries.
Lewes/Rehoboth Beach, Delaware – 121 miles; 2.5-hour drive – What can we say? It's the beach! Bring your lotion and your bathing suit and enjoy!
Shenandoah National Park & Luray Caverns, Virginia – 3 hour drive; 120 miles – Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, west of Washington, D.C. Skyline Drive is the only public road running through the Shenandoah National Park. Nearby Luray Caverns is the largest series of caverns in the east. This eerie underground world of stalactites and stalagmites is worth a day trip from NOVA.
Gettysburg (84 miles), Hershey (130 miles), Lancaster (120 Miles) Pennsylvania – Three unique Pennsylvania cities within 3 hours of the metro area – Relive the civil war in Gettysburg Learn the unique story of Milton Hersey and immerse yourself in the life of the Amish in Lancaster, PA.
Chincoteague Island, Virginia – 170 miles; 3.5 hour-drive – Do not miss watching the ponies at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the quieter side of the Eastern Shore!
NOT THE USUAL DUTY STATION
An assignment to the Marine Barracks Washington D.C. can seem a bit intimidating with its' downtown location, and lack of many of the usual base amenities and support found at other installations. But you will find the other local military installations provide what the Barracks does not to include a military friendly community, military spouse clubs, and medical care.
This post sponsored by PCSgrades.
In military life, there is really nothing more stressful than a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Deployments are a close second, but a PCS takes the cake. Combine a PCS with a deployment and not only do you want to eat all of the proverbial cake, you want to guzzle copious amounts of wine, too. We see you. Cheers.
One company, PCSgrades, is trying to make the PCS process feel more like a three-letter acronym than a four-letter expletive. Founded by veteran Todd Ernst, PCSgrades is the epitome of the military community taking care of its own. "PCSing has an emotional connotation," said Ernst. "We use it as an adverb, adjective, a noun and even as a cuss word."
Ernst started PCSgrades in 2015 after seeing friends struggle with unethical real estate agents and being taken advantage of by moving companies who knew DoD would be a paying customer no matter how poorly the companies treated their clients - us.
Here are 4 resources PCSgrades provides that you need to make moving easier:
1. Housing reviews
Does it get any more stressful than finding out where you're going to be stationed, Googling base housing at that station and getting results from 15 years ago (if you find anything, at all)? Nope, no it doesn't.
PCSgrades is changing the game on that by having military families who live in an area provide honest, candid reviews of their housing so incoming families can benefit. With reviews of both on and off base locations, families can finally get the truth about housing, whether it has black mold or the best views in town.
2. Moving company reviews
Great, you've figured out where to live; that's half the battle. The other, larger, more complex half? Figuring out how your stuff is going to get there. Knowing someone else will be handling your personal property and driving away with it for the foreseeable future is stressful enough. But not knowing what that company's background is, well that's a whole different ball game.
PCSgrades has countless reviews of moving companies provided by military families who have used them. Let's be honest: You wouldn't try a new Chinese delivery place without looking at reviews … why should picking a moving company be any different?
3. Area guides
The giant Google machine can only get you so far in life when you're researching your new duty station. We know you're busy and you want one-stop shopping on the interwebs. What you really need is aggregate data of things like schools to attend, restaurants to try, day trips to take and neighborhoods to avoid.
Introducing Area Guides, which offer exactly that: a holistic view of where you're moving and what to do once you get there. The best part? These are written by military families who have done it, for military families who are doing it.
4. Network of realtors and resources
PCSgrades has a nationwide network of A-graded realtors who know and understand the military and veteran lifestyle. Many of the realtors are veterans or spouses themselves, which takes the empathy to a whole new level. Having a realtor who gets the pressures of PCSing and the challenges of a military move is key to finding the right home for your family.
"I have friends who are hundreds of thousands of dollars upside down after bad home choices," Ernst said. "Housing choices can be pretty limited. Our moves are way more expensive than the typical civilian move." This is why Ernst created a way to alleviate the pain points for military families through PCSgrades.
In addition to a network of realtors, PCSgrades partners with "HomeScout," which allows you to search up-to-date home listings nationwide. Simply create an account with PCSgrades and the realty world is your oyster.
Whether you're looking for a new neighborhood, trying to find a vetted realtor, need a PCS checklist (let's be honest, is it on your radar to look at the expiration date of your military ID card two months before you PCS? Yeah, we know the truth; download the checklists here), or you're just wanting to know more about where you're heading, PCSgrades is making moving easier for every military family. Pay it forward by leaving reviews and be sure to take advantage of their excellent resources, today.
This post sponsored by PCSgrades.
Yeah! You got orders to (insert foreign country overseas)! You can already picture your kids in the international school, speaking with cute little accents and wearing local garments. Adorbs. You've got your housing picked out, adventures planned and passport photos taken. You're ready for your epic move ... except for that 13 hour plane ride. Have you wrapped your head around that yet? Before you grab for a paper bag and start hyperventilating, use our travel hacks to help make the emotional turbulence you're experiencing a little lighter.
We've all said it: "We'll drive. It won't be that bad." We picture the adventure, the memories, the nostalgia of car trips when we were younger.
But if we're really being honest with ourselves, think back to those car trips. Someone was crying. Someone was puking. Someone was whining. That person very well may have been your poor mother. True story, my mom once got out and walked along the highway when all six of us kids wouldn't stop fighting. A long car trip can be daunting, but with our tips and tricks they don't need to be.
WE ALL HAVE OUR SHARE OF HORROR STORIES WHEN IT COMES TO MILITARY MOVING!
Name the most disgusting item erroneously packed by your movers… for me it was used coffee grounds and of course, trash. For others, I've heard everything from wet towels to dirty diapers. I've caught movers raiding my fridge, lounging on my mattress in my front yard, and throwing out items that they've broken. Raise your hand (or have a drink) if you ever had packers show up late (or not at all). Ever had packers get into a shouting match among themselves as they were packing your china? Or have you caught your movers throwing boxes down the stairs to the basement? That would be me!
With each military move, there are "lessons learned". For instance, I won't go into great detail but let's just say after watching one packer go directly from using the restroom back to packing my kitchen without washing his hands, we now use gigantic ziplock bags to "pre-pack" all my kitchen utensils. A packers' bare flesh has never again touched one of my kitchen utensils.
My family's last military move was by far the shortest, only 1½ miles up the road. We were moving from a rental to a home we purchased. It was by far the worst in terms of damage and overall angst. I think because we were only "moving up the road" the pack job left a lot to be desired. I found one box of dishes which had not one piece of wrapping paper! Instead two throw pillows from my family room were used as a buffer! Amazingly, nothing was broken! Go figure!
When I heard glass shatter in the moving truck, I asked one of the guys what shattered.
There are any number of reasons why in a given situation renting might be better than buying or vice versa. For military families, it might make more sense to buy at one duty station and then rent at the next. Up for consideration with each PCS is whether to buy or rent, to stay on-base or off. In making these decisions, there are numerous pros and cons to consider.
PROS TO BUYING
- Purchasing the right home can be a great financial investment that can grow in value over time.
- Tax deductions such as mortgage interest and property taxes can greatly reduce your overall income tax burden if you itemize.
- Being a homeowner can give you pride of ownership and a sense of stability, rare in the military life which can seem nomadic at times.
- A mortgage payment that is lower than your BAH can result in a boost to your savings.
- You can decorate however you want! Goodbye white walls! Hello, Color!
- Anyone can stay with you at any time. So it is not a problem when your Mom or sister comes for an extended stay during a deployment or following a PCS.
- You can do (almost) whatever you want….host a late night party, plant a garden, knock a wall down!
- There are no security or pet deposits when you buy a home.
- You have the opportunity to become a landlord when military orders arrive and you have to move. Your home can become an investment property, providing a source of income which can partially or totally offset your mortgage, taxes, and insurance payments.