2023 – Photo Contest Winners

Posted on March 20th, 2023 by Elizabeth Nelson

In anticipation of the 66th anniversary of the Capitol Hill House and Garden Tour, the Society sponsored a photo contest – “The Capitol Hill Home”. We are pleased to announce the winners:  Congratulations to Nan Raphael and Bobbi Krengel. View photos…

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More about House Tour 2023

Posted on March 9th, 2023 by Elizabeth Nelson

Celebrate 66 Years of Touring! Saturday, May 13, 4 – 7 pm – Sunday, May 14, 1 – 5 pm

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s annual House & Garden Tour is one of the highlights of the Capitol Hill calendar. Don’t miss this special Mother’s Day weekend treat. Tickets – $35 – available through Eventbrite beginning April 2. Tickets will be $40 on Tour weekend.

Tour stops may be visited in any order during tour hours:

  • 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE (enter from E Street) – Hill Center – TOUR CENTRAL – Pick up your brochures and wristbands at will-call, open from 3 – 7 pm on Saturday and 12:30 – 5 pm on Sunday. Rest facilities and snacks available at this location.
  • 1013 I St. SE – a jewel box of a home with gorgeous custom upholstery, not to be missed
  • 426 11th St. SE – extensive updates since it last appeared on the Tour in 1985
  • 420 Walker Ct. (behind 426 11th St. SE) – modern construction in a historic alley
  • 350 11 St. SE –  sun-filled corner house with art collected in a lifetime of travel
  • 232 9th St. SE –  completely redone inside with a southwestern vibe
  • 209 10th St. SE –  amazing details with ornate plaster molding and a “spoondalier”
  • 211 10th St. SE – one of the oldest homes on the tour with an unusual floor plan, a cleverly designed staircase, and a guest house
  • 1020 Pennsylvania Ave SE #503 – fantastic use of space and spectacular views from the roof top patio
  • 131 11th St. SE – highly personalized renovation and unique garden (first floor and garden)
  • 640 East Capitol St. NE – grand spaces and mantels, and a charming garden (first floor and garden)
  • 617 A St SE – a music lover’s delight with one of the prettiest facades on the HillLink to brochure will be placed here

    Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

    420 Walker Ct. SE

    426 11th St. SE

    1020 Pennsylvania Ave SE

    350 11th St. SE

    131 11th St. SE

    211 10th St. SE

    209 10th St. SE

    617 A St. NE

    232 9th St. SE

    640 East Capitol St. NE

    1013 I St. SE

High Life & Low Points – October 2022

Posted on July 13th, 2022 by Elizabeth Nelson

631 Constitution Ave. NE stable

High Life and Low Points – This tour features the alleys north of East Capitol St. and west of 7th St. NE – The lifestyles, occupations, and shenanigans of the inhabitants; early industrial uses, including commercial stables and a Locomobile (early form of steam-powered automobile) shed; and efforts both to eliminate and to preserve alley dwellings. Visit 6 1/2 Ct., Millers Ct., Douglass Ct., Terrace Ct.

Plan on walking about 1 mile in a little over an hour. Be prepared to walk in any weather; a raincoat or umbrella may be necessary. Comfortable shoes are a must.

Tickets ($15) area available through Eventbrite until September 29 at 9:30 pm.

Locomobile shed – with tour guides, Angie Schmidt and Beth Purcell

Tour Dates & Times:
Saturday, October 1, 1 pm & 3:30 pm
Sunday, October 2, 1 pm & 3:30 pm

Starting location: Triangle park bounded by the 600 blocks of Massachusetts & Constitution Ave. NE. Please arrive 10 minutes ahead so the tour can begin on time.



Virtual Tour 224 8th St. SE

Posted on April 19th, 2022 by Elizabeth Nelson

Home of Kara & Christopher McGuinn

224 8th Street, SE VIRTUAL TOUR

House Description:

224 8th St. SE

House Captain: Heather Schoell, Berkshire Hathaway HS PenFed Realty

In 1897 Julia Wilson married Benjamin Burch Earnshaw, a clerk. They had three children and lived at 1220 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, later relocating to 440 Seward Square. In 1904 Julia engaged architect C.E. Webb to design this three-story (plus basement) brick house, built by Samuel Maddox, for her parents, Samuel A. and Juliana Wilson. Julia, her parents, and her daughters lived there with three boarders. Julia and Benjamin are buried at Congressional Cemetery.

In 1923, Ralph DeSimone bought this house and lived here with his wife Rosa and nine children. DeSimone, Frank Cicero, and Samuel Brocato operated the Columbia Fruit Company at 909 Louisiana Avenue, NW. His heirs sold 224 Eighth Street in 1991. 

Chris and Kara have lived on the Hill since 2009 and purchased this house in 2021. Many of its fine original features can still be seen, including several fireplaces with detailed surrounds. It has 4 bedrooms and 3 full baths, offering abundant living space for the family. Chris comes from a family of collectors. Placed prominently throughout the house, you’ll find fine examples of modern/contemporary art, with an emphasis on graffiti, and artifacts from various countries’ manned space programs.

In the vestibule, a mixed group of mirrors, notably a recently purchased, circa 1800 federal parcel-gilt example from the Peter A. Pfaffenroth collection, reflect the art in the living room. A recent addition is a diorama titled “Art Fair” by Abigail Goldman @tinylittlelives. A gift to Chris from Kara, it depicts the crowd at an art gallery, oblivious to a grisly murder that has just taken place – a commentary on the obsessive nature of the collector and the absurdity of the art world. 

Down the hall, is a 110- pound oak door from a jail in England. The date ‘1630’ and other carvings appear on the door – a sample of seventeenth- century graffiti. Chris found this on a trip to England, had to have it, and moved “heaven and earth” to get it safely to Capitol Hill. 

Across the hallway is the dining room, home to several pieces from the originators of the graffiti style in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s through modern masters. One of the first pictures that Chris bought is over the sideboard. Entitled MOPAC, the artwork is by DC-born graffiti artist, Tim Conlon. His work was featured in the first Smithsonian show focused on graffiti as a unique artform. A scroll, “Face Girl/Ass Girl”, by Leah Schrager, Glamour  magazine’s Artist in Residence for 2019, “ is over 100 feet long. Addressing the way women are commoditized to suit a male gaze, it contrasts the comments received on her more sexualized social media approach, with a much shorter list from an account with a more modest profile. 

 In the kitchen, is a signed Andy Warhol print from his ”Space Fruit” series, purchased by Chris’s mother, who served on the Board of the Andy Warhol Museum for 25 years.

On the second floor you’ll find the office, featuring collected pieces of spaceflight history. At the top you will see a NASA brochure from 1967 signed by an astronaut from Apollo 8, 11-14, and 16. One of the highlights of Chris and Kara’s collection is the early model of the Lunar Lander Research Vehicle (LLRV) No. 2 prototype that was likely provided by Bell Aerosystems for the NASA Apollo program, 1964-1966.  It was purchased from the estate of Col. Emil “Jack” Klueva, the only pilot to fly LLRV, No. 2. The nursery is  graced with three original Matisse drawings – and three “fakes” (can you guess which?). The guest room features photographs of large-scale flypaste installations by the French artist JR, who uses his works to bring social awareness. He recently completed a piece in Lviv, Ukraine which was featured on the cover of Time magazine.

A suite with a large bedroom and full bath occupies the third floor.  Note the spectacular views – and the set of stairs that allows the family’s little dog, Tilly, to access the bed.

–Fynnette Eaton

panorama of backyard at 224 8th St. SE

Virtual Tour 504 6th St. SE

Posted on April 19th, 2022 by Elizabeth Nelson

Home of Elissa Preheim

504 6th Street, SE VIRTUAL TOUR

House Description:

504 6th St. SE

At the first glance this brick bayfront might appear to be a typical nineteenth-century row house, yet on closer examination it is rather exceptional due to its generous side yard and side porches.

As with many nineteenth-century houses the history of this house remains somewhat hazy. Earlier research for house tours in 1975 and 1999(?) found indications of one or two buildings on this lot dating back to before 1877 when building permit records began,  perhaps as early as 1864 or 1872. Further research into deed and tax records will be needed to answer those questions. However, in1886 owner Charles E. Nelson received a repair and alteration permit “for brick addition bay windows”, 30’x18’, 2 story, indicating a major addition to an earlier structure.  The Nelson family appears to have owned the property on the corner of E and 6th streets and developed it over time into four houses, including this one.  The corner house at 601 E Street appears on the 1874 Faetz and Pratt map.  Rowhouses at 603 and 605 E Street were built in 1889, also for Nelson, who lived and died at 504 Sixth Street where his funeral services were held, according to the Evening Star September 1911 obituary that refers to him as a “Southeast Washington merchant.”  

As is the case with many Capitol Hill houses this house has been repaired, modified and restored over possibly 150 years.  Owners Charles A. Nichols in 1971 and Terry and Geoffrey Lewis in 1995 undertook major projects to repair termite and other damage and to renovate the house. Through all the changes, the house retains its nineteenth-century flavor while offering modern conveniences.     

In 2012 Ms. Preheim moved in and made the house her own. The house, generously lit by south-facing windows and French doors, is full of color. Walls are sparkling with art works collected by Elissa on her foreign travels. Some are connected to her growing up in a family on foreign assignments including time in Haiti.  Particularly interesting are works by Haitian artist, G. Clerge, stylistically reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence.   

As with the house itself, old and modern furnishings coexist side by side.  Grandfather’s side-by-side, cabinet/secretary sits across the dining table from a contemporary Japanese silk screen.  Other modern Japanese prints Elissa found in Kyoto on a trip to Japan.  A modern, abstract collage, found closer to home at an Alexandria arts festival, faces the living room fireplace.    

Bright interiors make even dark winter days pleasant.  In warmer weather, pleasures of the garden are just outside the door.  The current garden was designed and built by Gary Hallewell of Garden Arts at the time of the 1995 renovations. As with the house, new complements the old.  Valuable mature trees were preserved.  Two crepe myrtles, a spruce, a hemlock, and a photinia are spaced around the garden and a magnificent magnolia sits just outside the dining room.  From the street, the wood gate admits visitors into this quiet garden with a brick path leading to various glass doors and on to the back gate opening to the alley, passing under a wisteria-draped trellis.  There are places here for outdoor socializing or quiet reading and the upstairs porch outside the sitting room is perfect for gazing into the tree canopy with a cup of coffee in hand. 

— Joanna Kendig