Brigadier General Archibald Henderson was the longest serving Commandant of the Marine Corps. The fifth person to hold this office, he served from 1820 until his death in 1859, so long that tradition holds (incorrectly) that he willed this house to his heirs. He was buried in nearby Congressional Cemetery.
During World War II, on October 12, 1942, Commandant of the Marine Corps Major General Thomas Holcomb hosted a party here to wish good luck to several marines shipping out, among them his son, Lieutenant Franklin Holcomb. At the party, the Commandant was asked what he thought about women serving in the Corps. Before he could reply, the portrait of Gen. Henderson dropped from the wall to the buffet.