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Dupont Circle House Tour to Feature Victorian, Beaux Arts, & Contemporary

By Robin Diener*

Images accompanying this news story can be viewed in the current issue PDF

A 22-sided house, a home that’s four stories high but only one room wide, and a modern condo apartment full of French antiques are among the attractions of the 43rd annual Dupont Circle House Tour to be held on Sunday October 17th from noon to 5 p.m.

This year, the self-guided walking tour of 14 sites cuts a crescent swath through 12 square blocks along 21st Street from Florida Avenue, with a stop on the edge of the West End, and across N Street to the west side of the Circle. As far-ranging as that may sound, tour participants will never be far from Afternoon Tea at the Anderson House or a nibble at the Tabard Inn, both included in the price of admission. Live jazz and classical music will also be featured at several of the locations.

Perched prominently at the intersection of Florida Avenue and 21st Street, is a dwelling built on a triangular lot of only 268 square feet. The tiny yellow home with its green mansard roof is a local landmark; those who have longed to peek inside will be charmed by the compact abode, the smallest house on the tour.

The newest structure on this tour, an apartment building on 23rd Street, was built in the early 1980s, but inside one apartment is an impressive collection of furnishings from 17th and 18th century France. These elegant, unique pieces are joined by antique artworks and artifacts from other parts of the globe, notably Asia and Africa.

In another late 29th century high-rise on P Street is an almost-seaside retreat that reflects the owners’ love of boating, the Caribbean, and Louisiana. In addition to the oceanic theme, the fully remodeled apartment features a hot tub and retractable roof on a patio that runs the length of the apartment.

Tucked into a nearby alley is a former garage that grew from a personal-training studio into a private home. As the owner’s business expanded to multiple locations around the city, he combined another property with the garage, in the process adding two levels, a swimming pool, and four roof decks. This stunning home is close to the Church of the Pilgrims where the tower with its views of Rock Creek Park will be open to the public.

Near the Cosmos Club and the Phillips Collection is the aforementioned 22-sided building, constructed in the 1940s as sleeping quarters for visiting personnel of the Navy League Club. The building was later divided, and the half that will be open to the tour was renovated in 1990. It’s decorated with treasures from the owners’ travels, including Turkish plates, Chinese furniture, and a chandelier made of silkworm cocoons.

Several of this year’s homes are in Victorian-era buildings updated with contemporary amenities. A fine example is on New Hampshire Avenue, an 1885 mansion with Gothic Revival elements. There, in a large apartment that occupies the entire second floor, its rooms are bathed in light from 19 windows.

Originally built as a residence in 1875, 1734 N St. NW was purchased in 1922 by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. One amusing feature is the “spite room” — a narrow chamber along the former carriageway (now the entrance to the Iron Gate Inn) constructed in 1884 as part of a dispute between two long-departed neighbors.

Named for the hostelry in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales” the inviting Tabard Inn has served guests since 1924. Composed of three Victorian townhouses, he hotel at 1739 N Street is steeped in Washington history and English style. On the day of the tour, however, the Tabard will serve not tea, but lemonade and cookies to house tour participants.

Afternoon Tea will be available on the other side of the Circle, in the winter garden room of the Anderson House at 2118 Massachusetts Avenue. Built in 1905, this 50-room Beaux Arts mansion is an ornate and eclectic mix of Italian and English motifs. Since 1937, the house has belonged to the Society of the Cincinnati, a nonprofit historical and educational foundation that promotes interest in the American Revolution and its ideals. Weather permitting, the private garden will be open for house tour guests and tours of the building will be ongoing.

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How and Where to Obtain Tickets

Tickets are available in advance for $25 each online at www.dupontcirclehousetour.org, and at local outlets: Axis Salon (1509 Conn. Ave.), Good Wood American Furniture (1428 U St.), Greater Goods (1626 U St.), Home Rule (1807 14th St.), Java House (1645 Q St.), Trio Restaurant (1537 17th St.), True Value Hardware (1623 17th St.); Urban Essentials (1330 U St.). Advance tickets will also be available on Sunday, the 10th, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., at the Dupont Circle Farmfresh Market held on 20th Street between Q Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Day-of-tour tickets will be available for $30 each at the Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Avenue, beginning at 11:30 a.m. and at the Dupont Circle Farmfresh Market, beginning at 9 a.m. For more information, visit www.dupontcirclehousetour.com

*The writer serves as president of the tour’s sponsor, the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA).

Copyright (c) 2010 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Dupont Circle Citizens Ass’n.. All rights reserved.