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46th Dupont Circle House Tour to Feature Late 19th and Early to Mid-20th Century Residences

Accompanying images can be viewed in the October 2013 issue PDF   

By Ruth Horn*

How many of us have walked past the beautiful, grand and often outlandish homes that make up the Dupont Circle neighborhood and thought, “Wow! I wonder what that looks like on the inside?” On the third Sunday of October this year, as in every one of the past 45 years, visitors will have the opportunity to go inside a rich and

Varied selection of Dupont homes. On Sunday October 20th, from 12 noon to 5pm, the Dupont Circle Citizens Association is sponsoring its House Tour and Tea featuring around 10 houses and apartments.

Among the houses on the tour are two that have undergone major — and spectacular — renovations.

One, a 1912 English Regency-style townhouse, has retained its charming façade and architectural detail while undergoing major internal restructuring. The ground floor was excavated, a new entrance created, uneven floors leveled, some walls torn down, some built and others straightened, commercial-grade windows added in the kitchen, and all-new plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems.

The second, Federal-style, built in 1919 by Henry A. Kite, was a former Lodge of Benevolent & Protective Order of the Elks. Henry A. Kite (1882-1931), was a prominent Washington developer who built many row houses and apartment buildings all over the city (one example is the Kew Gardens Apartments at 2700 Q Street, NW). Upon entering the house, guests walk through a barrel vaulted entrance paved with the original black and white diamond-patterned marble floor. The hallway is lined with the owner’s collection of antique maps of the places where they have lived. The hanging staircase to the second floor includes the original banister.

Two of the houses on the tour are in the 1700 block of Willard Street. Willard is a hidden Dupont byway — only one block long — of intact turn-of-the-20th century townhouses and apartment buildings. The homes have no front yards, but carefully curated urban gardens make the most of the narrow space between sidewalk and street making the block lush and green.

The Willard Street house manages to combine both a bustling family and a home office in an elegant integrated space. Formal living and dining areas are found upstairs, to take advantage of an earlier remodeling in which the attic floor was removed, extending the ceiling to 17 feet and capturing the light from three additional south-facing windows. This gracious room is the sunlit heart of the home. The home contains architectural detail and art, including a fireplace crafted in place by Gettysburg architect Todd Mudd. Cement-sculpted pillars and a cross beam add interest and structure to the wall of exposed brick.

This wall style serves to frame the owners’ Arhaus Ming Burn chair, an Asian-inspired replica. A Chinese plate once belonging to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Southwest DC hangs on the wall. The hotel owners were superstitious about a small defect in the repeating circular pattern and parted with the piece, which wound up in a recent Ross Elementary School fund-raising auction, where the homeowners, parents of Ross children, bought it.

The second home on Willard Street is three stories. It bears many touches from the owners’ travels in Asia and Africa, including Japanese Shojii screens in the sleek renovated kitchen. Back-to-back angled fireplaces separate the living and dining rooms. The second floor has been converted to a large master suite with fireplace and sitting room. And above is a private roof deck.

Capping off the homes on the tour are several unique apartments. These include the owner’s unit in a magnificent, classic Richardsonian row house with the original softwood floors, a grand staircase and huge windows. Another is an elegant unit at the round end of a unique, small condominium in which a second bedroom/den adds entertaining space to the large western round; beauty and light are augmented by almost continual walls of windows.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is a designer’s 500 square-foot rental apartment in a building developed by Barrett Linde, a Harvard-trained architect who intentionally referenced DC’s classic row house style and configuration for his urban settings. Ironically, Linde’s designs often replaced the structures he emulated, which had been torn down for urban renewal in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It is a clever and beautiful example of maximum use of a small space.

The Cairo condominium, at 1615 Q Street NW, the grand masterpiece of the late 19th century architect and developer Thomas Schneider, has invited tour-goers to visit their roof deck. The Cairo, towering over Dupont, was the impetus for the Height Limits Act, which is currently so much in the news. [Ed. Note: see “Public Now Being Introduced to Various Options Proposed to Amend 1910 Height Act to Allow for Taller Buildings; Developers Would be Winners,” InTowner, page 1, August 2013 issue PDF; http://tinyurl.com/pge8g45.]

This year, the Carlyle Suites Hotel, one of the leading boutique hotels in historic Dupont Circle, is the site for the traditional afternoon tea, starting at 2pm. The hotel is located just three blocks from Dupont Circle at 1731 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. The Carlyle is one of Dupont’s classical Art Deco buildings. Inside the hotel is not only recently renovated but also embodies a commitment to “green.” In addition to being smoke-free, the hotel has an innovative recycling program and runs on 100 percent wind power.

*The writer, a Dupont Circle-based real estate broker serves as DCCA treasurer and has been a DC resident since 1983. She is also the author of a published mystery novel and is working on yet another.

Copyright © 2013 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Dupont Circle Citizens Ass’n. All rights reserved.

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How Obtain Tickets

Tickets are available in advance for $40 ($45 on day of the tour) each online at www.dupont-circle.org. For more information, visit www.dupontcirclehousetour.com