Then and Now: 2460 Sixteenth Street, NW

French Embassy 2The structure located at 2460 Sixteenth Street, west of Meridian Hill Park, started to take shape in the mind of architect George Oakley Totten, jr., when he started drawing up plans for a four-story residence to be built by former Senator and Mrs. John B. Henderson in early 1907.

It was reported early on that the structure was destined to serve as the French Embassy, and this may have been in part why a Beaux Arts style was chosen. By early December of 1907, the building was completed and Ambassador and Mme. Jusserand took possession, leasing the home from Senator and Mrs. Henderson.

The French government did own a large tract of land in Kalorama Heights, but did not plan to erect a permanent home for the Embassy there for many years.

Council for Professional RecognitionThe dwelling was situated between the Henderson castle (now gone) and the the “Venetian” palace also built by the Henderson’s and leased to Secretary Oscar Solomon Straus of the Department of Commerce and labor.

The new Embassy was four stories high, with a frontage of sixty-five feet, and a depth of eighty feet. The exterior was of carved Indian limestone, with slate roof and copper cresting. Through the entrance on Sixteenth street, the entrance hall had white walls of caen stone and a marble mosaic floor.

The interior decorations were described as handsome, and the offices on the first floor were considered modern. A marble stairway with balustrades of wrought iron led to the second floor, where there was a large anteroom, a large drawing room, walls hung in silk, and a circular drawing room with windows on all sides. The floors were parquetry in quartered oak.

The Embassy stayed in this location until 1936, When the French government bought the John Hays Hammond property at 2221 Kalorama road northwest. Hammond had moved from the property in 1932 and during that time the wildlife from nearby Rock Creek Park had made the estate their home.

Today, the property at 2460 Sixteenth Street is the home of the Council for Professional Recognition.

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