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What Once Was

The Site of the Russian Trade Representative

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By Stephen A. Hansen*

The first house that stood at 2001 Connecticut Avenue on the southernmost point of Kalorama Triangle was the home of Dr. William Tindall. Following service in the Union army during the Civil War, Tindall moved to Washington to study medicine at Georgetown University. He then served for 63 years with the District of Columbia government and was a longtime secretary to the District commissioners.

The Tindall house, which was razed in 1907,  was then replaced by the grand Lothrop mansion.  photo—Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The Tindall house, which was razed in 1907, was then replaced by the grand Lothrop mansion. photo—Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

In 1907, the Tindall house was razed to make way for the construction of a mansion for Alvin Mason Lothrop. Lothrop, along with Samuel Woodward and Charles Cochrane, was one of the original partners of what later became the well-known department store Woodward & Lothrop, popularly known as “Woodies.” The business originally started out as a dry goods store at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street, NW and later relocated to 11th and F Streets, NW. After a buyout of Cochrane’s share of the business, it became Woodward and Lothrop Department Store.

Construction of Woodward & Lothrop’s flagship store in 1927 on the corner of 10th and F Streets, NW.  Rich’s shoe store still stands as wel,l and is now Madame Tussaud’s. photo—Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Construction of Woodward & Lothrop’s flagship store in 1927 on the corner of 10th and F Streets, NW. Rich’s shoe store still stands as well and is now Madame Tussaud’s. photo—Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Alvin Lothrop contracted the local architectural firm of Hornblower & Marshall to build a grand Beaux Arts-style mansion on the site of the former Tindall house in 1909.
While planning their new home, the Lothrops experienced the tragic death of their daughter Caroline in October 1908. The following year, Mrs. Lothrop was stricken with an incurable form of arthritis and also died. That same year, Lothrop, now a widower, moved into the new mansion with his college-age daughter, Harriet, but the house served as Alvin Lothrop’s home for only a short time.

The former Lothrop mansion is now occupied by the Trade Representative of the Russian Federation. photo—Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The former Lothrop mansion, shown in this ca. 1915 view, is now occupied by the Trade Representative of the Russian Federation. photo—Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

After the death of his wife, Lothrop divided much of his time between his childhood home of South Acton, Massachusetts, and his summer home in the Adirondack mountains. Lothrop died within three years of taking up residence in the mansion. He had been suffering from Bright’s disease, but his unexpected death in 1912 was attributed to a stroke.

Lothrop’s daughter, Harriet, married Nathaniel Horace Luttrell, who after Lothrop’s death, became the director of Woodward & Lothrop. The couple was living at their home at 2132 Bancroft Place NW when Harriet died suddenly on February 15, 1919. While the cause of her death was unlisted, she was probably one of Washington’s thousands of victims to be stricken by the Spanish flu epidemic that ravaged the world for two years. After her death, Nathan Luttrell and the children moved back into the Lothrop mansion.

In 1942, at the age of 51 Nathaniel Luttrell was found dead by his valet on the floor of his bedroom. One of Luttrell’s two sons, Nathaniel Jr., took over the directorship of Woodward & Lothrop immediately upon his father’s death, and that same year he sold the house to the Soviet Union government to be used as the embassy’s chancellery. It is now the office of the Trade Representative of the Russian Federation.

Architects Joseph Coerten Hornblower and James Rush Marshall worked together for over 30 years. Their work included the National Museum of Natural History, the Army and Navy Club, the United States Custom House in Baltimore. The firm also designed private residences, including the home of Duncan and Marjorie Phillips (now part of the Phillips Collection museum) and the Fraser mansion (now occupied by the Church of Scientology following use by restaurants through two-thirds of the 20th century) – both located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood at 20th and Q Streets and 1701 20th Street, respectively.

After Joseph Hornblower’s death in 1908, Marshall was unable to compete with prominent local architect Jules Henri de Sibour, who was snatching up the commissions for most of the large Beaux-Arts residences in the area. Their only other work in Kalorama Triangle was a pair of relatively modest town houses at 2504–06 Cliffbourne Place, which they had designed in 1899.

The former Lothrop mansion as seen today. photo—courtesy Wikmedia Commons   .

The former Lothrop mansion as seen today. photo—courtesy Wikmedia Commons .

*Stephen A. Hansen is an historic preservation specialist, Washington DC historian, author of several books and of the Virtual Architectural Archaeology blog.