Archive for the Residences Category

Lost Washington: Corcoran House

Posted in Downtown, Lost Washington, Renaissance Revival, Residences with tags , , on May 26, 2009 by Kent

Corcoran HouseThe Corcoran House, once located on the northeast corner of H Street and Connecticut Avenue, NW, is considered the first significant Victorian house constructed in Washington.

Originally built as a three-and-one-half-story Federal residence in 1828 for the prominent Maryland attorney, Thomas Swann, and later occupied by the noted Massachusetts statesman Daniel Webster, the home was remodeled and enlarged when banker William Wilson Corcoran purchased the home.

Corcoran House detailCorcoran amassed his fortune by financing the Mexican War for the U.S. government through the sale of millions of dollars of government bonds. To create a suitable home, he choose James Renwick Jr. to rebuilt the structure in 1849. Renwick immediately set about to enlarge the house into a Renaissance-inspired mansion marking the introduction of the Italianate style into Washington on a large scale. Renwicks attention to detail included varying designs of classical window frames, cornices, and floral swags in brownstone.

Corcoran House Hall (Courtesty Historical Society of Washington, image #CHS 01865)

Corcoran House Hall (Courtesty Historical Society of Washington, image #CHS 01865)

Being a Southern sympathizer, Corcoran left Washington for Europe when the Civil War erupted. To safeguard his home, he rented it to the French Legation which gave it diplomatic immunity.

Upon Corcoran’s death in 1888, the house was left to the banker’s grandson, William Corcoran Eustis, who rented it to a succession of prominent senators and government official.

Ultimately, the Corcoran House was razed in 1922 to make way for the massive neoclassical U.S. Chamber of Commerce Building which still occupies the site today.

Corcoran House rear drawing room

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Lost Washington: Lowery House

Posted in Downtown, Lost Washington, Residences, Second Empire with tags , , on May 19, 2009 by Kent
Brick townhouse on the corner of Vermont Avenue (Courtesy Historical Society of Washington, DC)

Brick townhouse erected by James Lowery on corner of Vermont Avenue (Courtesy Historical Society of Washington, DC)

Once located on the northwest corner of Vermont Avenue and K Street, NW, the residential structure built in 1875-1876 was considered to be among the best residential addresses in Washington.

The mansion was erected by Archibald H. Lowery, a prominent local real-estate developer, initially as his own residence. It remained in the Lowery family during its entire existence, although it was rented most of the time. One of its first occupants was Wayne McVeagh, attorney general during the Garfield and Arthur administrations. Other distinguished residents included Mrs. Phoebe Hearst, and the Cornelius Vanderbilts of New York.

Lowery House Parlor

Lowery House Parlor

It was, perhaps, the most refined and cohesive Second Empire house in the city, and had a presence more calming with a refined dignity that didn’t exist in the Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne homes built a few years later in the neighborhood.

Upon the death of the Duchess de Arcos, born Virginia Lowery, the house was razed for a parking lot in April 1936. Continue reading

Then and Then and Now

Posted in Commercial, Dupont Circle, Residences, Then and Now on May 13, 2009 by Kent

Hopkins-Miller house, Dupont CircleThen: The Hopkins-Miller house, south side of Dupont Circle between Connecticut and Massachusetts Avenues, NW. Front facade, ca. 1890. The structure was a double house, Hopkins on Massachusetts and Miller on Connecticut.

Dupont National Bank buildingAnd Then: The Dupont National Bank building ca. 1925. The bank building replaced the Miller house in 1912. You can just see  the Hopkins house to the left of the image.

Suntrust DupontNow: The bank is still there but now is a Suntrust. The Hopkins house and other residential homes near the bank have been razed.

The bank building was built at an estimated cost of $50,000 and featured a complex design of different colored bricks with granite trim and a clay tile roof. TheInTowner has a more complete history that they published on Dec. 8, 2008. As for me, people who read my earlier post on painted brick buildings know that it is something I completely disagree with. The thought of a multicolored and sophisticated brick design under bright yellow paint makes me cringe.

Lost Washington: the Key Mansion

Posted in Federal, Georgetown, Lost Washington, Residences on April 23, 2009 by Kent

key-mansionIts not often that I find a building lost to posterity as and outright crime, but this certainly would qualify by my reckoning.

The Key Mansion, built in 1802, was an historic property from an early date. Francis Scott Key — of Star Spangled Banner fame — lived in the house for twenty-two years. Key moved to Georgetown in 1805 when an uncle offered him a partnership in his law practice.

Efforts to save the residence were made as early as 1907, when it was opened as a museum. Unfortunately, the house was altered for commercial purposes in 1912, when the gable roof and adjoining single story office building were removed.

Even though Congress passed a bill in 1948 providing $65,000 to relocate the home, President Truman vetoed the bill, and the buildings fate was sealed. It was razed because plans for the Whitehurst Freeway called for the site to be used as a connecting ramp with Key Bridge.

Then and Now: Park Place, NW

Posted in Park View, Residences, Then and Now on April 20, 2009 by Kent

3654-park-placeThen: 3644-3654 Park Place & 608 Rock Creek Church Rd. On January 2, 1916, the Post published the following information on these homes: Seven dwellings containing many novel features have been started by Kennedy Bros. 3664-3674 Park PlaceIncorporated in the region around the Soldiers’ Home grounds, which they have already improved with 200 homes out of a projected 300. The latest addition is probably the last that will be undertaken for some weeks or until warmer weather makes building operations more desireable.

Six of the houses will run from 3644 to 3454 (sic) Park place northwest and the other will stand at 608 Rock Creek Church road. On Park place, the two corner house will be semidetached, occupying lots with frontages of 46 and 42 feet, while the others will have a frontage of from 21 to 30 feet on lots 80 feet deep, allowing ample parking space in front.

The dwellings will be two stories … of gray tapestry brick … and with green slate roofs. They will contain six rooms. Underneath each will be a fireproof garage.

Now: 3664-3674 Park Place & 608 Rock Creek Church Road. The homes are largely intact. There are minor changes, such as the stone walls, no more shutters, and the porch balustrades have been replaced and changed. The back of 608 RCCR also no longer has its original sleeping porches or garage doors. One interesting change it that the homes on Park Place have been renumbered.

Then and Now: 3615 Warder St, NW

Posted in Park View, Residences, Then and Now on April 15, 2009 by Kent

3615-warderThen: 3615 Warder street, photographed ca. 1920. The street hasn’t been paved yet, and I really like the flower box on the front porch (click on image to get to larger image).

3615-warder-st Now: The house (and the row) are still there. The front door has been replaced as have the wood columns supporting the porch. The street light is now gone, and the garage has been extended with the upper porches being enclosed.

Restoration at S and New Hampshire, NW

Posted in Dupont Circle, Renovation and Restoration, Residences on April 13, 2009 by Kent

I was happy to see that the Joseph Taylor Arms Mansion at 1800 New Hampshire Ave., NW, is finally being fixed up. Last June, this property made it onto the D.C. Preservation League’s 2008 list of 10 most endangered places.

According to an article in the June 26, 2008 Post, “the condition of the 100-year-old mansion, owned by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, became ‘so deplorable’ that the diplomatic staff had to move out four years ago. ‘A classic example of demolition by neglect’ is how the league describes the property, which has rotting windows, peeling paint and an unsound roof. A Congolese official said recently that the embassy is ready to hire a contractor and begin repairs”

Well, it seems that the work has begun.Joseph Taylor Arms Mansion