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Annual Dupont Circle House Tour to Feature Variety of Houses & Condos; Tea Event to be at Heurich House

Accompanying images can be viewed in the October 2015 issue PDF

By Robin Diener*

Afternoon Tea has always been a highlight of the annual Dupont Circle House Tour, as much for the imposing edifices where it has been served as for the sumptuous snacks — included in the price of admission. Anderson House, Belmont House, Patterson House, and Whittemore House are just a few of the grand manses that have graciously provided their premises to the Tour for tea over the last 47 years. On Sunday, October 18, yet another magnificent building, the Heurich House Museum at 1307 New Hampshire Avenue, will host the tea starting at 2:30 p.m. The 10 houses and condos being featured on this year’s 48th annual Dupont Circle house tour will be open between 12 noon and 5 p.m.

Architect John Granville Meyers designed and built the technologically advanced for its day mansion in 1894 for brewer Christian Heurich and his family. Today it is considered one of the best preserved houses in the city, with most of the first and second floor lavish furnishings and decorations intact. Heurich House Museum docents will be on hand during the tea to answer questions about the building.

Carriage houses are another architectural delight of the Dupont Circle area. They tend to lurk in alleys, and need to be ferreted out. Being tucked-away in one of these alleys is definitely part of charm of the Robert Cole Studio. One may catch a glimpse of the large outdoor sculptures that adorn the alley from the streets beyond, but it takes a treasure map (provided to House Tour ticket holders) to find the way in. The bounty therein will provide much for the observant appreciator — in a variety of art forms — from the hand-hammered metal hands that hold the curtain rod in the artist’s shower, to the brilliant fixtures that light the way to the upstairs bower. Robert Cole died in 2013, but his wife Susan Cole maintains the studio. Susan is herself a great asset to the art community, and a force for its philanthropy. This site is sure to be a tour-goer favorite.

Nearby rise rather larger presences, including the Scottish Rite Temple and several stately apartment houses of yore. While many rose and fell from elegant to down-at-the-heels over the course of the 20th century (the Cairo is a notable example), most are gradually being rehabilitated as condos. The Somerset House built, by Harry Wardman in 1917, is the most recent to be redone. Light fills its high-ceilinged apartments which retain much of their original layout, although now differently purposed to great effect with large closets, social kitchens and beautiful baths.

Period details have been carefully recreated. This sturdy brick building is a true alternative to the modern glass box. Its deep setback, a welcome respite from busy 16th Street, is something for developers and city regulators to consider as they push the limits of density right up to the sidewalk. Even small amounts of green space provide shade and capture carbon-dioxide, and also lend privacy and serenity to the city abode, so the tall trees of an established neighborhood like Dupont help make it so prized as a residential area.

In our view, preservation is the original “smart growth.” Reusing infrastructure is a smart idea. For years, many Duponters have nursed hopes for the re-imagining of the Underground, actually a trolley station closed since 1956. The Dupont Arts Coalition has leased the space from the city and will soon open an initial phase. Meanwhile, Director Angese Braulio has offered house tour goers a pre-Halloween sneak preview for those willing to descend and see what’s there. Sensible walking shoes advised.

It is always a pleasure for the tour organizers to be able to present a house for viewing that people have specifically asked to see. This year will feature one such oft-requested address, although you will have to take the tour to find out which one. The current resident and owner is not only sanguine about people constantly snapping photos of the distinctive exterior features of his house, but was also delighted to be asked to open it to the public for the tour. The interior decoration by an international designer is an added bonus of this unique house with the stunning round front window.

A new aspect of the tour this year will be “open house” by some of the vendors in our Preferred Merchants membership program. CoCoVa chocolatiers and Glen’s Garden Market, both esteemed purveyors of fine edibles, will offer treats to those who stop by.

The 2015 Dupont house tour features a total of 11 sites including a pair of identical historic side-by-side homes with thoroughly different interiors; a two-story designer-owned and decorated apartment; a four-story townhouse with contemporary renovation within its historic floor plan; and the Pen Women’s Building, among others.

The self-guided walking tour, for which Beasley Real Estate is the Presenting Sponsor, will encompass eight square blocks. Many sites are private homes and are not handicapped accessible. Complimentary pedicabs will be on call in the tour area for those who run out of steam.

*The writer is president of the tour’s sponsor, the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA).
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How to Obtain Tickets & Self-Guide Booklets

Tickets — which include entry to the traditionally sumptuous tea — are available in advance for $40 ($45 on day of the tour). To purchase online, visit www.dupont-circle.org/tickets. On the day of the tour, starting at 11 a.m., both tickets and booklets will be available at the Dupont Circle Resource Center located in the small brick building immediately west of the Circle at Mass. Ave. & 20th St.

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Copyright © 2015 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Dupont Circle Citizens Ass’n. All rights reserved. DCCA House Tour Committee.