2nd Coffee Break at David Burnes’ Farmhouse

May 8 2011

David Burnes Cottage

David Burnes Cottage. Credit: DC Public Library Commons Flickr Site

To keep his sanity while helping to merge more than 300 square miles of polygonal terrain, IRC 3D Animator Phillip Thomas took breaks (though he doesn’t drink coffee) and modeled David Burnes’ house from 1790. David Burnes’ farmhouse sat at what is now 17th  and B Street, NW.  Much of Burnes’ pre-revolutionary war plantation became the National Mall, South White House Lawn and the Pan American Annex.  There are numerous photographs and drawings of his house, because it stood until 1894 when it was finally razed.  For example, the above photograph is of Burnes’ house, but the group is unidentified.   However,  these few photographs are the only information we have.  The King Plat that maps out his estate and buildings can not be located.  To see Thomas’ test model and more pictures of David Burnes’ farmhouse –> We received some great feedback on our first tests of the cottage and have incorporated them into these version 2 models.


David Burnes' Cottage Test 2 North Side. Many photographs of this side

David Burnes' Cottage Test 2 South Side. No known photos of this side.

The model is re-inserted back into the photograph for comparison of size and scale

In the early stage of modeling and layout, 3D animator, Phil Thomas, puts a roughed out model into the photograph to make comparisons of size and scale.


Following are additional images we have located of Burnes’ Farmhouse.  Our favorite is the first one below.   It has the Washington Monument in the background (Thanks to PGCist on Flickr).


David Burnes' House and Washington Monument. Credit: PGCist on Flickr


6 Responses to “2nd Coffee Break at David Burnes’ Farmhouse”

  1. Ralph Burns June 18, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    I appreciate the pictures and your renderings of the David Burnes Farmhouse. I believe my great-great-great-grandfather, John W. Burnes, born August 24, 1749, grew up in this house. Besides “Davy” and John, there were seven other children of James and Jemima Brown Burnes.

    • Visualizing DC July 16, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

      Mr. Burns,
      Glad to hear that you enjoyed our 3D work! We always welcome information like this to add to our archives, so if you think of anything else we would love to hear it. Thanks again for the comment!

    • Linda Peyman August 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

      Is it possible that the original house had two entrances? where it appears to be boarded up? I am looking for Huguenot relatives in that time era and wondered. Many of the original huguenot houses did have two front entrances. Help?…………..Linda Peyman.

  2. Barbara Price August 3, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    I, too, am a descendant of the Burnes family and Ralph Burns is my cousin. I’m a descendant of Frederick Augustus Burnes, the youngest son of James and Jemima (Brown) Burnes, and the brother of David Burnes II. David Burnes II was the oldest son of James and Jemima, so when James died unexpectedly, and without a will, in 1772, the brunt of his land holdings went to his oldest son. This property was one of those holdings, purchased in 1721 from John Allison, it was called “Elinor,” and is where David lived with his wife, Anne Wight, and their children, John and Marcia. I’m sure that you know the story of Marcia Burnes, she inherited all of the Burnes land holdings after her father’s death in 1799 and she married John P. Van Ness, they were quite the couple! Marcia loved this old house and she protected it all of her life.

    The Burnes family owned at least two other houses that descendants lived in and we do have information about them.

    We have been very lucky to have some incredible documents that we can share with you, letters from the Commissioners to David Burnes II, and I think some maps, too, I will have to look to be sure about that.

    We have also been lucky in that we have over 100 descendants of the Burnes family that have connected through our family history research. Ralph has shared this incredible information with us and we can’t thank you enough!

    When I began my early research into the Burnes family, I wasn’t sure that I was related, until I read the letter from Washington to his Commissioners that “even the obstinate Mr. Burns” has come into the fold!!! Yep, I’m related.

    I think the group of men in the photo may be members of the Athletic Club prior to the house being torn down in 1894. That’s why the house was torn down and one of it’s members, James Hood, went through the house before it’s demolition and took out the mantle from the dining room. The mantle is in the attic at the Washington Historical Society now, once a part of the City Museum exhibit.

    Thank you, again, for this most incredible rendering of our ancestor’s home!

    Barbara Price
    Ventura, CA

  3. Linda Peyman August 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    This is marvelous…………..thank you so much!

  4. Dege Didear August 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    I’m another descendant of Davy Burnes, so was naturally interested to see the website. I’m also an educator and U.S. history buff who loves the concept of time travel in any form. Will we eventually be able to travel through a virtual Washington, D.C., in its founding era?

    This type of reconstruction is a fascinating application of math principles to history, and vice-versa. What a way to spark student interest in both subjects!