Sadly, this is no longer possible. The author of The Star Spangled Banner lived in this brick Georgetown residence in the District of Columbia from 1804 to about 1833, and it was his home during the period when he wrote what would one day become our national anthem. The site is now a small memorial park on M street near the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge, but the building itself no longer survives. It was demolished in 1947 after years of neglect.
We have lost countless national treasures to the ravages of time and many have passed with barely a notice. The Key home might have have had a future like the Betsy Ross House, or that of Mary Young Pickersgill, the Baltimore seamstress who made the flag that flew above Fort McHenry and inspired Key's stirring verse. There actually was an effort made to save Key's Georgetown home, but it happened in the early days of the 20th century, thirty years before the old house was finally torn down. Everything I know about it is contained in this certificate, presented to my gr-great Grandmother Rebecca (Osterhout) Johnson in recognition of her 1908 contribution to the Francis Scott Key Memorial Association to save the old Key home.
The certificate is unusual for several reasons. It contains the only image I have been able to find of the old Key home, and a strikingly military portrait of the poet peering through a spyglass at "the rockets' red glare." In fact, Key had a very brief military service - 30 days in the Georgetown Light Field Artillery company in 1813 and then the following year as an aide to General Winder at the Battle of Bladensburg. He was not, as far as I am aware, in uniform when he went to the British to secure the release of his friend Dr. William Beanes, an American captive of the British, and was himself detained until operations against Baltimore were concluded.
More intriguing still is the text "'The Star Spangled Banner', our National Anthem." America did not have an official National Anthem until March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 USC §301) when Congress adopted Key's song. There was, however, a concerted effort to have the Star Spangled Banner declared our National Anthem underway long before Herbert Hoover signed the bill into law:
"During the 19th century, “The Star-Spangled Banner” became one of the nation’s best-loved patriotic songs. It gained special significance during the Civil War, a time when many Americans turned to music to express their feelings for the flag and the ideals and values it represented. By the 1890s, the military had adopted the song for ceremonial purposes, requiring it to be played at the raising and lowering of the colors. In 1917, both the army and the navy designated the song the “national anthem” for ceremonial purposes. Meanwhile, patriotic organizations had launched a campaign to have Congress recognize “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the U.S. national anthem."
Supporters of the Francis Scott Key Memorial Foundation clearly sided with those calling for the Star Spangled Banner as our National Anthem, a bit of "sympathetic magic", perhaps, as if stating the desire as fact would make it reality. Though ultimately the effort to save the Key homestead was unsuccessful, the Star Spangled Banner is Key's most enduring legacy.