Then and Now: 2121 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Townsend House 1915Then: The Townsend Mansion ca. 1915. The home was built by Mary Scott Townsend, the daughter of William L. Scott, a Pennsylvania railroad and coal magnate who became a member of Congress.

Cosmos ClubNow: The building has been home to the Cosmos Club since the club purchased the property in 1950.

History: The mansion in its current state was created when Mrs. Townsend had the original 1873 home of Curtis Hillyer enlarged and so completely rebuild that none of the original structure is noticeable. To do this, she hired a leading New York firm, Carrère and Hastings. The work began in 1899 and was essentially completed by 1901.

Mrs. Townsend became one of Washington’s social leaders, known for her elegant entertaining. Her husband, Richard H. Townsend, died shortly after the house was completed, but she continue to live there until her death in 1931.

Mrs. Townsend’s only child, Mathilde Townsend Welles, and her husband, B. Sumner Welles, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Under Secretary of State (from 1934 to 1943), lived in the mansion until World War II when it was leased to the Canadian Women’s Army Corps.

Images of the home ca. 1915, when Mrs Townsend lived there, are after the jump.Townsend Interior 1Townsend Interior 2Townsend Interior 3Townsend Interior 4Townsend Interior 5


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