Virtual House Tour 2020

Posted on August 31st, 2020 by Heather Schoell

Image courtesy Walter C. Dean

As you might guess, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) won’t have a physical House and Garden Tour this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But to keep the continuity of our annual tour (63 years!), and to keep in contact with the community at a safe distance, we’re offering this virtual house tour, featuring homes from past tours and others never before seen, all free of charge. We want to thank our sponsors for their incredible support and understanding.

Thank you to the Rob and Brent Group, our PLATINUM Sponsor. Thank you to our SILVER sponsors – National Capital Bank, Michael Halebian & Co., and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Thank you to our many advertisers, their logos sprinkled through the nine tour pages. We hope you remember their support as you make decisions on who to call for services.

Thank you to our home owners for opening their doors to us! We appreciate your giving us a peek into your wonderful homes.

Finally, thank you to you for your interest and support of CHRS’ house tour! We hope you will consider joining CHRS – it’s the easiest way to support the Capitol Hill Restoration Society.




This virtual tour uses digital technology that allows you to “walk” through the homes in 3D and zoom in on points of interest. Click on a glowing circle, and you’ll be transported to that spot in the home! Also be on the lookout for special items along the way, noted on each home’s page. Use your computer mouse or touch screen to zoom in. You can also use your arrow keys to move you through. Play around and have fun with it!  If you’re “stumped” this tutorial may help.

Each home has an accompanying write-up so you’ll know what to look for as you’re in the virtual tour. Again, if you’re not already a CHRS member, we’d appreciate your support!

Please enjoy!

House One, 102 13th Street, NE
House Two, 24 9th Street, NE
House Three, 630 E Street, NE
House Four, 137 D Street, SE
House Five, 707 E Capitol Street, SE
House Six, 521 2nd Street, SE
House Seven, 1345 F Street, NE
House Eight, 132 13th Street, SE
House Nine, 511 Seward Street, SE


Virtual House Tour #9: 511 Seward Square, SE

Posted on August 31st, 2020 by Heather Schoell

Home Owners: John K. McDonald and Gina T. Pruitt


511 Steward Sq., SE VIRTUAL TOUR


Tour Highlights:

511 Seward Square, SE

★ Vintage wallpapers, chandeliers, tin ceilings
★ There are six fireplaces in the house – four of them with spectacular fireplace surrounds.
★ Harpsichord in the front parlor
★ Gina is an artist and has a fascination with cows – note her paintings and other cow-themed art and objects.

Fun to Find:
★ Giant lobster claw
★ Shark
★ Deerstalker hat

House Description:

This elegant two-story, bayfront brick house was built in 1890 by William Covington for Mr. Hollins. Architect Julius Germueller designed its Queen Anne-style exterior using a mix of brick and stone in patterns common to that era. Restrained decorative brick detailing provides architectural definition to the arched entrance door and other elements of the house façade, while stone defines the basement level and serves as a belt course between the first and second stories of the bay.

Harpsichord In Front Bay

The interior also offers rich evidence of a well-preserved past. When the house was on the 1991 House Tour it contained many original finishes and some original furniture. That was due to then-owner Charles Verbeck’s choices when he moved into the house in the 1970s and spent the next five years renovating it in collaboration with his contractor/interior designer Dennis Filter.  Most of the original features are still significant elements of the interior thanks to the current owners’ decisions when they made the house their own in 1997. They preserved the historic fabric of the house to a remarkable degree while modifying it to provide modern comforts and additional living space.

The original staircase faces visitors as they enter. It is constructed of walnut, cherry and oak carved with the rising sun motif popular in the Eastlake building supply catalog. The sunrise motif is echoed in the paper border of the entry hall’s cornice. The walls of the main-floor rooms are covered in richly colored Bradbury and Bradbury wallpapers of Anglo-Japanese design, a continuing theme of Eastlake style. Zoom in to appreciate the wide band of floral designs where the walls meet the ceilings. Look up further to see the embossed tin ceilings that were added in 1910, when pressed tin became the rage. Original cast iron radiators are present in all the rooms.  And throughout the house you’ll see original hardware and chandeliers fashionable in the late Victorian period.

On entering the front parlor our eye is drawn from the cherry wood and tile mantel towards a remarkable painting. The artist is unknown but it provides a spectacular backdrop for the two delicate armchairs and table in front of it. Tall double-hung windows offer views to Seward Square over the grand curves of the late 19th-century sofa and a harpsichord graces the front bay.

In the second parlor, the original mantel was retrofitted by Mr. Verbeck to provide a working fireplace. The print of a panda was made by Rob Pruitt.

The dining room, with its richly colored wallpaper, deep red curtains, and another carved wood mantel with embossed tile border, offers a deep immersion in the spirit of late 19th-century living. The heat register adjacent to the fireplace mantelpiece is original to the house and has been repurposed as part of a modern cooling and ventilation system. A closet in this room houses a butler’s pantry wallpapered with the previous owner’s Brazilian lottery tickets. The still life in pencil is by Janice Goodman.

Renovated Kitchen

The kitchen, completely renovated by the current owners, presents an interesting insertion of modern appliances and a central island with granite counter into a traditional-looking space, with white cabinets and original window- and door-trim painted to match. Gina is a gourmet cook and uses her previous experience as a caterer to throw fabulous parties for large groups. She did the painting of Quaker Grits near the entrance. A small powder room continues in the same spirit with a white porcelain sink and white tile. If you take the back stairs to the second floor, look up to see the wooden water tank that served the original toilet on the back porch. Running the water pipes inside the house prevented the pipes from freezing. The original toilet room, still on the porch, is now purposed for storage; it is not included in the scan.

A back bedroom, at the rear of the second floor, is made bright and cheerful by light plaid wallpaper in addition to the three windows open to a southern exposure. This room, once used by the owners’ son, now grown, currently serves primarily as an exercise space. A full bath is conveniently located right next door. It retains its traditional flavor, with white tile common in the 1930s and white porcelain fixtures.

Two other bedrooms, a few steps down the hall, have strong individual personalities. The first is ready to welcome guests with floral wallpaper and a large armoire. Note the tin ceiling and light fixture. As you continue toward the front of the house, a decorative arch spans across the hallway. You’ll soon find yourself outside the third bedroom, also with a tin ceiling and elegant wallpaper. This room features a remarkable, heavily carved headboard and lovely wardrobe. Janice Goodman also did the pencil drawing in this room.

Next up is the study at the front of the house. Here the traditional décor continues, with richly textured wallpapers, carved wood mantel and original woodwork. It offers a full view of the Capitol

Cow Painting by Gina T. Pruitt

dome from the bay window, sadly, not visible in the scan. The series of photographs is John’s work. Another bathroom, this one a show-stopper created from an existing trunk room, features a traditional pedestal sink and deep soaking tub set against richly textured wallpapered walls. A beautiful rug on the floor, two of Gina’s cow paintings, and light streaming through the window make this room a unique oasis.

Retrace your steps a few feet to the top of the main staircase and wend your way down to the ground level. In the most dramatic change to original house, John and Gina dug out the dirt-floored cellar (complete with oil-burning boiler) and reconfigured it into a bright, spacious guest suite. Accessible directly from the street, it is a fully functioning living space, with separate entertaining and sleeping quarters, a small kitchen, bathroom, plenty of space for a bicycle collection, and a music studio in the rear. Both the bedroom and living room have their own fireplaces. The studio is used by the owners’ son Duncan, a senior at American University, to compose, record and produce music. He plays with the  Gimmicks, a band founded by Duncan and two classmates when they were in grade school. A recording of their music can be enjoyed at this link.

As evident in this tour of their home, both Gina and John have had long-term interests in the arts and historic preservation in addition to pursuing careers in other fields. Gina received her BFA from the Corcoran School of Art, had exhibits in DC and New York, and managed art galleries prior to the birth of her son. She taught at Saint Peter School on the Hill for seventeen years before becoming a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. John was educated at the University of Oklahoma; Magdalen College, Oxford University, England; the Corcoran School of Art and Georgetown University Law School. Now retired, he was Deputy Director, Office of Indian Rights, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, and spent over thirty years in private law practice.

Virtual House Tour #8: 132 13th St. SE

Posted on August 30th, 2020 by Heather Schoell

Home Owners: Fynnette Eaton and Jim Miller


132 13th Street, SE VIRTUAL TOUR


Tour Highlights:

132 13th St. SE

★ Mosaics, mosaics, mosaics!
★ Rugs
★ Japanese and Chinese art and artifacts

Fun to Find:
★ Dog’s head mask
★ White ceramic cat
★ American flag

House Description:

This house reflects the passions of archivist Fynnette Eaton and historian Jim Miller, who made this 1907 home a celebration of art — filled with antiques, ceramics, stained glass, Japanese and Chinese artifacts, contemporary American works, and mosaics in many styles.

Since moving into the house in 1988, Jim has created the mosaics seen throughout the home while retaining the original woodwork. Floors and ceilings are designed to reflect the early 20th-century style. The result is a house that feels like a word-of-mouth, off-the-mall Smithsonian.

Tile bathroom on 13th St. SE

Mosaic derives from the Greek museon (of the muses); at #132, Fynnette is the muse behind the mosaic art. The first mosaic you’ll see is the transom above the front door. In the front hallway is an Alex Katz silk screen; Jim’s mosaic interpretation of Katz’s minimalist style can be seen on the other side the hall.


The living room has original pocket doors and a custom tray ceiling with a Roman-inspired exploding-star motif. Facing the Katz on the left wall is a work by Farhana, a Pakistani American painter whose use of color is reminiscent of mosaic art. Evolution, one of Jim’s works, introduces his muse across about 12 years of a natural change from honey to platinum blonde hair. The vase by the fireplace is a Qing Dynasty recreation of a Ming Dynasty piece. The restored Greco-Roman plate above the fireplace dates to the second century BCE. The two small mosaic tables in the living room are Scan; one is a portrait of the family cat, Corelli, and the other, two birds drinking sacred water, is a scene from a Ravenna, Italy imperial tomb.

The focal point of the dining room is a Federalist table surrounded by four restoration chairs and four refinished chairs; their fronts are inspired by Klimt, the backs feature Arabesque and Greco-Roman motifs (the latter from nearby Dumbarton Oaks). Also hanging in this room are a Salvador Dalí and two Matt Phillips paintings. The hutch is 1920s French Art Deco. The sculpture on the sideboard, Substantial Thoughts, is a modern take on Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. A semi-finished, full-length portrait of Fynnette faces the hutch.

As you walk to the rear of the house, you can’t miss Ms. Portugal, a ceramic spanning the wall between the dining room and kitchen. Poke your head into the bathroom to see more of Jim’s glass work.

Cabinet Inspired by Venice

The kitchen takes you to Venice. The century-old cupboard has been refinished with an 18th-century Venetian veduta. The gold mosaic to the right of the cupboard is based on Palermo’s Tree of Life (12th century); the ceiling is inspired by a S Marco floor. Three precisely detailed Timothy Richards’ models support the Venetian theme. Jim built the stained glass doors and cabinets and laid the travertine floor as part of a 2013 remodeling. The rear addition, finished in 1990, replaced a rotted-out enclosed porch. Showtime’s “The Borgias” inspired an exterior mosaic of Lucretia Borgia played on TV by British actress Holliday Grainger.

Ascending to the second floor, the glass tiles below the chair rail in the stairway were inspired by Leighton House in London, known for its orientalist interiors. Fynnette & Jim’s Staircase Hanging above is quarter-millennia-old Portuguese Pombal-style wall tile (c. 1760). Mosaic copies of Klimt’s Judith 1 and 2 surround a smaller portrait of Fynnette on the wind-blown Amalfi Coast.

The front bedroom ceiling mosaic began as a major leak in the air conditioning system. Jim covered the damaged ceiling by creating an abstract mosaic and enclosed it with a boundary excerpting the Declaration of Independence.

The shelves below the Japanese screen (c. 1790) on the hallway wall are inspired by those in James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery and host both oriental art and small Art Nouveau orientalist statues.

Rear Window

The library recalls Florence, where Jim and Fynnette lived in the 1980s. It is painted in the white and light grey found in the Medici library. On the left wall is a favorite 1980s Pop Art piece by Patrick Nagel. Facing it is a Portuguese wall decoration in the Queen Maria style (c. 1780) together with two Florentine Renaissance art posters.

In the Ottoman-inspired upstairs bath is an original piece imagining Vasco da Gama’s expedition to India as chronicled in the Portuguese epic poem Os Lusíadas by Luís Vaz de Camões. Da Gama never made it as far east as “Katistan,” the home’s Roman- themed guest bedroom, with a custom cat door that affords Corelli a private two-room suite away from resident dog, Blue. Tucked away in one corner is a mosaic of Fynnette at the Greek ruins of Agrigento, Sicily.

Virtual Home Tour #7: 1345 F Street, NE

Posted on August 30th, 2020 by Heather Schoell

Home Owners: Ann and Mike Grace


1345 F Street, NE VIRTUAL TOUR


Tour Highlights:

1345 F St. NE

 ★ Extensive art collection, many of the watercolors by Mike – note the His & Hers portraits of Ann and Mike on the staircase and the Library of Congress interior at the top of the stairs
★ Art glass collection in living room
★ Sumi-e painting (looks almost like a photo) over living room sofa

Fun to Find:
★ Lego models – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water and Robie House
★ Large brass elephant
★ Starfish
★ White swans
★ Nats bobblehead collection

House Description:

Rusty Collection

Capitol Hill’s post-Civil War construction boom hit this square in 1892. Architect Vincent A. Hubbard designed the eight houses in this row in the popular Queen Anne style, with a variety of brick embellishments typical of the period. For much of its history, beginning in 1912, the house was rented, sometimes as an informal boarding house when the front room was offered for rent/furnished as was common on Capitol Hill, particularly in times of war and Depression. In 1932, toddler Ethel Smith won a contest for the most popular baby, and received a radio set. In 1951, Mrs. Cora Lee Young bought the house and her mother, Amanda Douglass, died here at age 90 in 1954. Mrs. Geneva Jackson, believed to have worked as a laundress, died in the house in 1971.


Ann and Mike bought it in December 2005, after it had been completely renovated. They reconfigured the kitchen and added sliding doors onto the patio, which they refurbished with a brick floor and their collection of rusted metal objects. The couple “love sitting out there and listening to the birds.“ Look throughout the home for evidence of their passion for art and travel. Many of the paintings are Mike’s watercolors. In 1992, around the time Mike and Ann married, he mentioned that

Artwork by Mike Grace

he had always wanted to try to paint with watercolors. Mike had not attempted much artwork up to that time. Ann said “go for it” and the rest is history. He took lessons for years at the Torpedo Factory and, since his retirement in 2006, he has joined the West River Artists in Galesville, MD to paint once a week. Several other watercolors were done by their late friend Pamela Bounds Peia, a Capitol Hill resident.


The living room china cabinet houses a collection of art glass pieces. The first piece in their collection was a wedding gift by a local glass artist, Rick Sherbert of Glen Echo (top shelf, left side). Some other pieces were picked up on their many domestic excursions and most are by modern artists such as Randy Walker, a Pilchuk Glass Studio artist (top, right hand), Jared Davis (top, left hand), and Baker O’Brien (bottom center shelf). The Graces have also bought some older Steuben pieces, two of which are their handkerchief shapes (bottom shelf, center section and top shelf, center section). The rug was purchased during a trip to India. Particularly impressive are the two exquisite Sumi-e (pronounced sue-mee-ay, a Japanese ink technique) done by Fred Harris, an ex-pat and friend of Ann’s parents, while they lived in Japan in the early 1980s. Harris was well regarded in Japan for his mastery of this traditional technique. One of the Sumi-e

Fred Harris Sumi-e

hangs over the sofa. The other is on the opposite wall, next to one of Mike’s tulip paintings. In addition to the Sumi-e, the Graces have a quick sketch by Harris of a Hong Kong scene hung on the wall to the right of the breakfront in the living room. He also painted in watercolors and the Graces have two of those as well. The Oxaca-ware on the cabinet in the front bay was collected by Ann’s mother while she lived in Mexico.


As you climb the stairs, note Mike’s watercolors on the left, especially his self-portrait and the portrait of Ann, as well as the Library of Congress interior at the top. The guest room at the top of the stairs is sunny and airy and has one of Mike’s landscapes over the bed. The rug is another treasure brought back from India. On the dresser is a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad clock given to Ann and Mike by Sandie Lotterman when she moved away from Capitol Hill. The clock is going to the home of a railroad-loving friend in Iowa.


The next room, open to the hallway, serves as an office. A black-and-white photograph of a seascape, displayed on the shelves, was taken by George Porter who had a very sophisticated dark room

Living Space with Glass Collection

in the basement of his house on 11th Street NE. It was a gift from the artist and his wife, Lois. Note the star on the desk from Capitol Hill Village, where the Graces are long-time volunteers. Look over the stairs to see the huipil, a woven and embroidered textile the Graces bought in Guatemala. Each indigenous community has their own design; this one is worn by women over their blouses.


The bedroom at the front of the house features Mike’s collection of model cars and Lego structures (Ann reports that Mike is a “car nut” and loves puzzles) as well as a collection of strawberry paintings and prints (Ann is a self-confessed “strawberry nut”). The lamp on the dresser is a gift from Ann’s parents. The two squatting figures are anatomically correct when you lift them up. Ann’s grandkids find them a little scary, so she tucks them out of sight during visits.


As Ann and Mike began contemplating retirement, they were living in Bethesda. They knew the wanted to remain in the Washington metro area because of activities but weren’t certain just where and had never spent any time on Capitol Hill. They found the property in an internet search. As they got out of the car to meet the realtor at the house, there were two families with deep roots in the neighborhood chatting over the fence. The Graces were instantly smitten with the “wonderful community feeling of inclusiveness and friendship.” That feeling keeps them here and happy to be here.

Virtual House Tour #6: 521 2nd St. SE

Posted on August 30th, 2020 by Heather Schoell

Home Owners: Bert Kubli and Mark McElreath

521 2nd Street, SE VIRTUAL TOUR

Tour Highlights:

521 2nd St SE

★ Staircase Bert built from scratch
Clever storage solutions crafted by Bert – pt. 1
Clever storage solutions crafted by Bert – pt. 2
★ Watercolor of the owners by Mark’s late sister, Jean, as a wedding gift (a much-appreciated welcome-to-the-family gesture), hangs on the staircase. It’s based on a photo of the couple on the street in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Fun to Find:
★ Dog paintings on the ceiling (by Kessler from Eastern Market)
★ His & his Kewpie Doll photo
★ Mark’s handmade quilt in the master bedroom
★ Portrait of Bert who favors his Grandfather Kubli, “whose shnozola rivaled Jimmy Durante’s”

House Description:

Staircase Built by Hand

According to permit information, Brook Cason developed this row of nine houses in 1896; each was 15 by 36 feet with an estimated cost of $2,200. John W. Davison, a 36-year-old clerk at Treasury and his wife Marion lived here in 1898. Two years later they had been joined by a daughter and a boarder, John Hall, 23, who worked as a clerk for the Navy. A series of renters and owners followed.

Bert Kubli bought the home in 1998 from a family who had owned it for fifty years. It was in rough shape with only one habitable room, a total of seven electrical outlets (and a lot of extension cords) and a bucket under a hole in the ceiling of the tiny rear bedroom. His original plan to restore the house had to be abandoned when he realized that the structure was falling apart. Instead, he completely reimagined the space, turning it into a showpiece of ingenuity and creativity. Bert has done nearly all of the construction himself, a labor of love reflected in his craftsmanship in every single room.

The house originally had a central staircase that cut across the middle of the house, separating it in two halves. Bert relocated the stairs to open up the dining area and make a focal point of the staircase with its beautiful woodwork. The wood used in the stairs is carried into the window sills along the stairs and floors of the dining area, kitchen and rear living area – each laid in a slightly different pattern. The horizontal elements, including the floors, are oak; the vertical pieces (beadboard) are fir. The skylight over the staircase was added in March of 1998, one of the very first improvements to the house.

What is now the kitchen was originally used as the dining area. Bert created a custom look within his budget by using IKEA cabinets and incorporating them into his own millwork including a cabinet-behind-a-cabinet over the refrigerator. The living area at the rear of the house was originally the kitchen. A full but tiny bathroom is not on the scan but we do have a video.

The couple pride themselves on their bargain-hunting prowess and are big fans of mid-century American decorative arts. Most of the furnishings, including Knoll and Bertoia pieces, were purchased “for ten cents on the dollar” at flea markets and yard sales – or picked up off the street.

As originally built, there were three bedrooms and an old-fashioned bathroom with a claw-foot tub on the second floor. What is now the master bedroom had been divided into two very small rooms by a wall to the side of the existing skylight. Bert removed the wall but kept the skylight in order to access the

Hall Storage & Doors to Rear Bedroom

roof, which boasts 18 solar panels. The bedspread is Mark’s quilting creation. The desert scene to the right of the porch door was painted by Bert’s mother.

Several others were painted by Mark’s mother. Portraits of the couple hanging over the bed were drawn by artists on the Nevsky Prospect in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Mark taught there every other year from the 1990s until his retirement from Towson University.

The master bath now features two freestanding lavatories, each angled in front of a window and an open shower with glass bricks. The ceramic and stone tile work creates patterns and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. In the hallway there are twenty-six feet of mirrored closet space. Note that there appear to be no doors to either the bathroom or bedroom. As Mark and Bert rarely entertain, they didn’t think it necessary – but a closet door attaches to a roll-out door by the click of a magnet, when privacy is desired.

The front room is used for Mark’s quilting projects and guest accommodations, library and office. The focal point of the room is a millwork enclosure opposite the front windows – it opens into a

full-size Murphy bed for guests – another example of Bert’s engineering skill.

Bert also built—again, with his own hands, as a one-man job—the two-story Victorian-styled porch that faces west. The upper porch, accessed from the master

Sun Tea on the Catio

bedroom, is screened and serves as a “catio” for two well-loved and pampered Maine Coon cat sisters, Lera and Luysa. A hatch in the floor releases a fire-escape ladder to the first floor.

The basement rental unit and studio space are not included in the tour, but we have videos of the rental and Bert’s workshop. It’s worth a site-visit to meet the couple’s yard ornaments, great favorites with the neighborhood kids. Two of the critters appear in the Whimsy of Capitol Hill photo scavenger hunt.

Co-owners Bert, 82, and Mark McElreath, 76, have been a couple for more than 19 years; they were married in DC in 2010. Both are retired: Mark from the faculty of Towson University; Bert from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Virtual House Tour #5: 707 E. Capitol St. SE

Posted on August 30th, 2020 by Heather Schoell

Home Owners: Connie & Bob Faltynek


707 E. Capitol Street, SE VIRTUAL TOUR


Tour Highlights:

707 E. Capitol St. SE

★ Many of the rugs were purchased from Muzaffer Biber, whose family has run a carpet business for generations at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. The rug in the piano room is a reproduction of the famous Pazyryk rug from the fifth century BCE. The two rugs in the downstairs hallway and the rug on the upstairs landing are originals of Anatolian design and were also purchased from Mr. Biber.
★ Richard Callner gouache on handmade paper over dining room mantle.
★ Plaster work in living and dining rooms

Fun to Find:
★ Black cats above the lintels
★ Globe
★ Page from 2017 House & Garden Tour catalog – when this house was open to our guests

House Description:

707 East Capitol Street was built in 1876–1877 by developers Samuel and Thomas M. Carpenter who subdivided two lots into five to build a row of identical two-story, three-bay brick houses with raised English basements. Although they could have elected to build habitable projections into the public space as allowed by the recently enacted Projection Act, they chose to build flat-front houses and emphasize the fashionable Italianate style with cast-iron front steps, decorative double doors with raised bolection molding, segmental-arched windows with brick-hooded crowns, and wide overhanging eaves with bracketed cornices.

Bob and Connie Faltynek always knew they wanted to retire to Washington, DC. To friends who ask why, they reply, “Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?” They rented briefly upon arriving, but after they went to a concert at Hill Center, they fell in love with Capitol Hill and bought this house in 2015.

The Faltyneks, both scientists who moved here from the Chicago area, weren’t looking for a major project. This house had kitchen and master bathroom renovations in 2005 and required only some fresh paint to help showcase an impressive art collection.

The house has a long history of renters. At one point, the house was broken into separate apartments
and still runs on three electric meters. A newspaper advertisement from The Evening Star on July 9, 1877 lists 707 East Capitol Street for rent with 10 rooms with all modern improvements for $40. It was for rent again in the summer of 1886 with “newly papered and painted brick, 8 rooms, bath, cellar, range, etc. $35 a month.” In 1894, individual rooms were available for rent. In 1927, the advertisement touts electricity and steam; in 1930 “warm bedrooms…plenty of hot water;” in 1936—“unlimited phone.”

Original Pocket Doors Separate Living & Dining Rooms

In the living room, the fireplace has a stone mantel and a heating grate. The owners believe the house had central heating with a furnace from the beginning. The artwork to the right of the fireplace is by Audra Weaser. This rug, made in Afghanistan, exhibits a Chobi Persian design. Notice the cove molding and plaster work around the ceiling light fixtures in both living room and dining room.

Take a look at the pocket doors as you pass into the dining room. The dining room has a dog-leg window to the right balanced by the mirror on the left and window seat storage boxes. The artwork above the fireplace is a Mediterranean landscape by Richard Callner, an original gouache on handmade

Dining Room Carpet in Classic Persian Sarouk Design

paper. This carpet, made in Pakistan, exhibits a classic Persian Sarouk design.

The 2005 kitchen remodel with a marble island is inviting and spacious with table and chairs for informal and convenient dining. The rear addition was added at the same time; the previous owners took pains to match the flooring and the door moldings. The rug near the piano is a reproduction of the famous Pazyryk rug believed to date from the fifth century BCE.

The back porch opens onto a courtyard with slate patio and alley beyond. The hallway features a nightscape by Shivani Dugar.

Outdoor Space

Upstairs, notice the bright orange painting by Julio Granda. Look for the functional transom windows above the doors and the knobs left over from the gas installation. The guest room features traditional red Dala horses emblematic of Connie’s Swedish roots. Also, this landscape is one of three Agnes Rathonyi paintings in the house. The huge master bedroom features three windows overlooking East Capitol Street, which is much quieter than you might think. The rug in this room is an authentic Persian Bidjar made in Iran.

At the back of the house, you can tell where the rear addition starts by looking at the change in floorboards.  This room is light and airy, with delightful views of the vegetation in the interior of the block. It is used as a home office and has copious closet space.

The basement, which is not on the tour, has a full kitchen and laundry room.

Virtual Tour #4: 137 D Street, SE

Posted on August 30th, 2020 by Heather Schoell

Home Owners: Betsy & Mike Rutkowski




Tour Highlights:

137 D St SE

★ Marble fireplace mantle imported from France and the Mulberry transferware collection in the living room
★ Antique armoire in second floor hall
Hidden laundry room

Fun to Find:
★ Rabbits on a pillow
★ Four portraits of Queen Elizabeth II
★ Star hanging from the ceiling
★ A tiger in the dining room

House Description:

The 100 block of D Street SE, close by the U.S. Capitol, for many years has been a favorite place to call home for lobbyists, senators, and representatives. Until late 2006, that is, when Al Kamen declared in his Washington Post article, “Democrats, Beware the Curse of D Street”, noting that six elected officials had all moved out in short order, including Representative Mark Foley of Florida, then owner of the house.

The two-story home, built 15 years after the Civil War, welcomes you with a high-sheen berry-colored door using the specialty paint from Fine Paints of Europe. The home was refreshed in 2017-2018 with new flooring throughout and an entire renovation of the main level where European antiques now provide special interest.

French Carved Marble Mantle

An antique figural clock by Ansonia sits on a painted antique French chest in the entry. The heart of the living room is the fireplace with a carved marble mantle from France. It is flanked by built-in bookshelves. In the shelves you will find the homeowners’ collection of 19th- century Mulberry transferware china. Additionally, the painted hutch in the dining room displays a selection of the owners’ English ironstone china collection. The dining room also features a series of vintage botanicals over a Swedish sideboard. French antique dining chairs surround a reproduction Gustavian table and a chandelier by the local Maryland firm, Niermann Weeks, shines above.

Built-Ins Hold Transferware Collection

Built-Ins Hold Transferware Collection

Underneath the staircase there is a secret place surrounded by custom-made doors mimicking paneling. Inside the paneling, there is a laundry area, which was moved from the back of the house to better use the formerly wasted closet space.

The kitchen was transformed from dark and dated into a fresh light, and bright space. New cabinetry, lighting, commercial-grade appliances, and an island were added. On the island sits Mike’s beloved late pharmacist father’s mortar and pestle. Over the sink a pair of old leaded glass windows provide a bit of privacy from the neighboring house. On the wall, ceramic sconces found at London’s flea market, Camden Passage, highlight an antique French shelf from Marston Luce of Georgetown.

Before the renovation, a large powder room and unheated utility room were behind the kitchen. Now there is a right-sized half bathroom and a den, which sometimes functions as a spare guest room using the pull-out sofa. Note the hallway’s oversized vintage French poster by Cassandre advertising the Normandie transatlantic service. A space-saving tankless water heater also functions as the home’s boiler for heating.

137 D St SE Patio

137 D Patio Nook

Outside, the back of the home features a cheery and private brick courtyard with access to the garage. The patio furniture is vintage Woodard, along with French café chairs.

Upstairs in the family room you will see a rough exposed brick wall, which reminds us what really lies behind the drywall throughout the home. This room is filled with several of Betsy’s favorite paintings and prints, including a still life by her mother.

The owners’ suite includes a bathroom with travertine tile and an antique Venetian mirror flanked by Art Deco-era sconces. The bedroom has a fireplace with a stately French pier mirror above. Encrusted urns on the pair of dressers offer unique spots to store odds and ends. A series of old etchings are displayed vertically along the narrow wall.

The guest suite includes a bathroom with bold navy stripes and a series of Andy Warhol’s Queen Elizabeth II prints, providing the owners with fond memories of their time living in London. There is a series of botanical drawings above the four-poster bed.

In the upper hall, an antique armoire from Belgium holds the household linens and supplies. A sunny yellow vintage metal cabinet also provides much needed storage.

Virtual House Tour #2: 24 9th Street, NE

Posted on August 30th, 2020 by Heather Schoell

Home Owners: Sandy Rowland and Tim Hauser

24 9th Street, NE VIRTUAL TOUR

Tour Highlights:

24 9th Street, NE

★ Spectacular rug collection, several from Weschlers Auctioneers and Appraisers
★ Skylights in upstairs hallway and bathroom
★ The main front and rear bedrooms have their original “chimney closets”, an extravagance when the house was built since closets were taxed as separate rooms.
★ Bedspread in the master bedroom belonged to the owner’s maternal grandmother.

Fun to Find:
★ Hindu god Ganesha holding an umbrella
★ Tiny teddy
★ Eagle with outstretched wings

House Description:

Built during the Civil War, this home is one of the earliest brick houses on the square. At that time, the house would have been surrounded by fields, pasture, and a scattering of frame houses. Richard Rothwell, a prominent builder and marble cutter/stonemason, designed his family’s home to reflect not only his profession and the materials he knew so well but also the Civil War period before the more exuberant Victorian architecture became fashionable on the Hill. Rothwell and other family members worked on a number of prominent Washington buildings such as the Patent Building, Pension Building, Capitol Extension (north and south wings), Treasury Building’s west wing, and cenotaphs and private memorials at nearby Congressional Cemetery before turning their attention to the burgeoning residential development on Capitol Hill of the 1870s.

Façade: If you are ever walking by this house, stop a moment and consider some of its unusual features such as the 22-foot-width instead of the standard 18 feet. The eye-catching checkerboard marble and red-and-grey slate pavers connecting the sidewalk and the stoop are original to the house. The marble front door surround with its unusual paneling is completed by the arch with the Green Man keystone (believed to have come from England). Marble — not a typical Capitol Hill residential material — is also seen on the graceful, curving steps, the entrance to the English basement, and the stone foundation cladding. One last reminder of life in the 19th century is the coal cellar under the northern half of the front garden, detected by the coal grate that would have been lifted and then anthracite coal shoveled in.

24 9th St NE Patio

English basement: When built, the English basement was the main family area of the home since this is where the kitchen and dining area were located. In the 1989/90 renovation of the English basement, the present owner preserved the kitchen (while updating the appliances), making a conscious choice not to move the dining room to the main floor as has been done in most Capitol Hill renovations. The front half of the downstairs has been turned into a formal dining room with a late 19th-century French mantel. An 18th-century American Federal convex mirror hangs just inside the door. The center window was extended downward to create a floor-to-ceiling opening to match the flanking all-glass doors. Old French doors were installed between the dining room and the rear kitchen area, and there is also a concealed door to the basement bathroom.

In the kitchen area, a rear fireplace was reopened and an 1880s walnut mantel installed.

The furnace was updated and moved to the side with the hot water heater and washer/dryer, forming a small utility and tool area adjacent to a new bathroom. In front of the fireplace is a mid-18th-century drop-leaf, gate-leg table, set on a diagonal to the room

First Floor: The entrance hallway is exceptionally wide and long with  pocket doors to the double parlors. The window frames in the front of the house are unusual in that they are all angled out to provide maximum light. The floors in the parlors and throughout the first and second floors are original, variegated-width, heart- of-pine plank floors.

The front parlor marble mantel-piece is original to the house and probably imported from England. The ceiling rosettes and mouldings were added in 1983. Gaslight chandeliers and sconces in the

Front Parlor Marble Mantel-Piece, Original to the House

hallways, stairwells, and parlors are period from Boston and true to the house based on the gas pipe mains remaining in the attic and buried in plaster throughout the house. The front parlor chandelier from 1865 includes rare etched-glass shades. The Chippendale-style mahogany arm chairs date to the late 19th century and those upholstered in blue are fruitwood, circa 1900.

A late 18th- or early 19th-century George lll tall case clock highlights the second parlor. The doorway to the rear bathroom was probably a window before the rear section of the house was added in the late 1880s and, in fact, is the same width as the rear parlor windows. The bathroom contains an 1870s marble-top chest, adapted as a vanity, and mirror plus period wall sconces.

Second Floor: The staircase leading to the second-floor bedrooms is an interesting configuration that doubles back on itself from a midpoint landing. The house originally had no plumbing upstairs; a large window similar to the other upstairs rear windows graced the landing where the door to the upstairs bathroom is now located. The upstairs bathroom was added in 1985 and contains another 1870s marble-top chest, adapted as a vanity, and a mirror flanked by period wall sconces.

The stained-glass skylight in the bathroom was designed by the present owner and built by his father. With the addition of the upstairs bathroom and resulting loss of a rear window, a skylight was opened over the staircase. The skylight was also designed by the present owner and built by his father using antique German glass.

The age of the house is immediately apparent from the sag in the second-story floor and the accompanying droop in the door frame to the small front bedroom. This bedroom, currently a study, was undoubtedly used for infants and very young children since another doorway (also slightly drooping!) connects the room to the main front bedroom. The bedspread in the master bedroom belonged to Sandy’s maternal grandmother who crocheted lovely things. This could have been made by her or by one of her friends; they were all Italian immigrants who came here in the early 1900s. The door connecting the two front bedrooms contains the original, restored lock hardware. Just outside, in the hallway, is a jackwood-and-ebony Chettiar merchant trunk from Tamil Nadu, India.

The main front and rear bedrooms have their original chimney closets, which would have been an extravagance when the house was built since closets were taxed as separate rooms. All the other closets that exist in the house today have been added in recent times.

24 Ninth Street remained in the hands of the Rothwell family from 1862/63 until the estate of Sarah Rothwell, wife of William Rothwell (Richard’s eldest son), was settled in 1938. In March 1938 ownership passed from the heirs of Sarah Rothwell to Laura and Lydia Bowman. In November 1956 Laura Bowman sold the house to Adeline Gier Smith. In November 1982 Smith sold the house to Timothy P. Hauser, the present owner.

An in-depth history of the house and the Rothwell family can be found here.