Once located on the northwest corner of Massachusetts Avenue and 11th Street, NW, the Wisteria House was built during the Civil War (ca. 1863) for hardware merchant William Thomas. Thomas added a two story portico in 1869. The Wisteria was brought to Washington from China and was a gift to Thomas by a naval officer.
In 1878, Thomas moved to Saint Louis. The new owner was Gustavus Ricker, a businessman with investments in marble, iron, and railroads. Ricker removed the original gable roof and added a third story with a flat roof in 1882.