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This trio of townhomes is part of the Edmonds School renovation. By Michelle Thomas

We’re already on record as fans of the Edmonds School renovation, a project of restored lofts at Ninth and N streets in Capitol Hill that started selling in the spring. Now, the final piece—a trio of brand-new townhouses adjacent to the school—has been completed and hit the market last week. While the townhouses may not have all of the lofts’s historic schoolhouse detailing, there’s still plenty to admire, from the dark-stained oak floors and contemporary lines to the elegant wall paneling and dropped tray ceiling detail in the dining area. Other highlights: The modern kitchen features custom-painted maple cabinetry, black granite waterfall counters, and high-end appliances from the likes of Liebherr, Bosch, Grohe, and Viking. Upstairs, the master suite includes a bath decked out in marble, with a custom millwork vanity, a soaking tub, and a frameless glass walk-in shower. On the third floor, the wet bar and study are offset by French doors that open to a 150-square-foot terrace, and above that there’s a 400-square-foot private rooftop deck overlooking prime views of the Capitol dome and Washington Monument. Plus the whole place is outfitted with some key high-tech hook-ups—think Nest thermostats, LyriQ audio systems throughout the home, and USB outlets for direct in-wall charging.

The three units are each four levels with four to five bedrooms and as many as six baths, and they’re listed at $1.649, $1.689, and $1.749 million. Take a peek at the photos below, then go to TTR Sotheby’s for more.

Find Michelle Thomas on Twitter at @michellethomas4.

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Posted at 10:45 AM/ET, 08/12/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This Dumbarton Street home spotlights tons of original ornamentation. By Michelle Thomas
Photographs by Fusion Photography for HomeVisit.

This Dumbarton Street home, just off Wisconsin Avenue in the heart of Georgetown, was originally built in 1875—and it still retains many of the era’s most beautiful historic architectural flourishes, from the soaring ceilings and double doors to the gorgeous moldings. Our favorite room: A large double-size parlor, decked out with a charming bay window, built-in display shelving, two fireplaces, and a pair of crystal chandeliers. Upstairs, the master suite opens to a lovely upper-level screened porch, and in back, there’s a secluded, lush terrace garden space. 

The five-bedroom, six-bath home is listed at $3.295 million. Take a look below, then go to Washington Fine Properties for a full tour.

Find Michelle Thomas on Twitter at @michellethomas4.

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Posted at 01:45 PM/ET, 08/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Check out this four-bedroom, five-bath at the Ritz-Carlton Residences. By Michelle Thomas
Photographs by Fusion Photography via HomeVisit.

This isn’t the first time a penthouse at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown has listed at this price level—in April, this one went on the market for $7.995 million, gold-leafed powder room and all—but that doesn’t mean it’s any less impressive. Four bedrooms and five baths are contained within the condo’s 5,664 square feet of living space. A large foyer leads into a gallery and open layout living area, a kitchen with its own breakfast area, a library, and a huge master suite with custom closets, a sitting room, and a private balcony. Some of the highlights? The gorgeous herringbone Brazilian wood floors, decorative moldings, rich mahogany detailing in the library, and a sleek kitchen to add to the service entrance and garage parking.

It’s listed at $7.95 million. Take a look below, then go to Washington Fine Properties for the complete tour.

Find Michelle Thomas on Twitter at @michellethomas4.

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Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 08/06/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It includes an 800-square-foot terrace. By Michelle Thomas

When it comes to prime real-estate locations, it’s hard to beat this condo—sitting at the corner of 14th and Q streets, Northwest, right in the heart of the trendy 14th Street corridor. The contemporary top-floor loft features two bedrooms, a den, and two and a half baths across its two levels and 1,700 square feet of living space. Huge expanses of windows, double-height ceilings, and a giant 800-square-foot outdoor terrace offer up awesome views of the neighborhood, and the condo boasts a bevy of luxe upgrades, including custom automatic window shades, an indoor-outdoor audio system, custom lighting and irrigation on the terrace, a Nest thermostat, and hardwood floors. Plus it comes with two garage parking spaces—quite the valuable commodity in this bustling neighborhood.

The property is listed at $1.799 million. Check it out below, then go to Redfin for the details or call listing agent Anthony Riguzzi at DCRE Residential.

Find Michelle Thomas on Twitter at @michellethomas4.

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Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 08/04/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Super-sophisticated interiors are the draw at this $5.95 million five-bedroom. By Michelle Thomas

At $5.95 million, we’re not joking when we call this a fantasy home—one peek at the interior will tell you why we love it. Positioned at the end of a private lane in McLean, this five-bedroom was restored under the supervision of award-winning designer Darryl Carter, who set it up in his signature neutral aesthetic. The result? A stunning modern-traditional home that highlights Carter’s tastefully dramatic flourishes, including deeply hued wood floors, plenty of clean, crisp white, and exquisite architectural detailing—elaborate wall paneling in the office, the family room’s arched French doors, and a marble-and-white bath. Naturally, the Carter-selected furniture is practically design perfection, too. Beyond that, it’s also got manicured grounds, a beautiful pool, a charming guesthouse, an outdoor pavilion, and a private putting green.

Take a look below, then go to TTR Sotheby’s to get the full scoop.

Find Michelle Thomas on Twitter at @michellethomas4.

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Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 08/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This place has its own “sport court.” By Michelle Thomas
Fusion photography by HomeVisit.

Built in 1902, this grand estate leaves almost no lavish detail untouched. A cobble- and flagstone driveway leads to the four-car carriage house and then to the main home, a property of nearly 10,000 square feet that boasts ten bedrooms and eight baths. Inside, the home is decked out with such luxe details as ebonized, pine, and marble floors, custom moldings and ceiling medallions, stenciled paneling in the library, and gilded and crystal chandeliers. The kitchen was updated to include honed granite counters, a butcher block island, custom wood and glass cabinetry, and top-level appliances. Upstairs, the master suite features a wood-burning fireplace (one of two in the home), a private deck, a dressing room, and a master bath outfitted with an inlaid marble floors, two black granite vanities, and a marble soaking tub. Elsewhere, there’s a media room, a caterer’s kitchen, and a two-bedroom, two-bath guest cottage. That’s all on the 1.25 acres of manicured grounds—which includes a sport court for private tennis and basketball games.

The home is listed at $4.95 million. Check it out below, then head to Washington Fine Properties for the complete details.

Find Michelle Thomas on Twitter at @michellethomas4.


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Posted at 12:56 PM/ET, 07/30/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This light-filled 1916 home offers up more than 4,000 square feet of living space. By Michelle Thomas

One of the first homes built on Woodley Park’s 29th Street, Northwest—and positioned across from the Swiss Embassy—this 1916 Wardman-style rowhouse takes full advantage of its location, offering views of the National Cathedral from the upstairs master bedroom. Other highlights? A renovation added some updates but retained many of the original features, such as an angled brick fireplace in the living room, pocket doors, hardwood floors, exposed brick, and tons of windows that flood the residence with natural light. It's a large place, with 4,055 square feet of living space that incudes five bedrooms in the main home, plus a spacious two-bedroom in-law/au pair apartment in the English basement. And out back, there's multilevel patio, brick terrace, and small deck.

2853 29th Street, Northwest, is listed at $1.685 million. Check it out below, then go to Beasley Real Estate for more details and here for the complete tour.

Find Michelle Thomas on Twitter at @michellethomas4.

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Posted at 10:46 AM/ET, 07/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Opera star Renée Fleming lands in the Palisades for $1.9 million, and Redskins coach Jay Gruden buys in Leesburg for $2.5 million.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden bought a model house built by Apex Custom Homes. Photograph courtesy of Apex Custom Homes.


Renée Fleming and her husband chose a new Federal-style townhouse with views of the Potomac River. Photograph by David Pipkin.

Opera soprano Renée Fleming and husband Timothy Jessell bought a three-bedroom, five-bath Federal-style townhouse in the Palisades for $1.9 million. Built this year, the home has Potomac River views, a rooftop terrace with a fireplace, and a master bathroom with heated floors and a jetted tub. Fleming became the first classical singer to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl in February. Jessell is a partner at Greenberg Traurig.

Diane Guglielmino-Terpeluk, widow of Republican fundraiser and former ambassador to Luxembourg Peter Terpeluk, bought a Tudor in Wesley Heights for $2.7 million. The five-bedroom, five-bath home, built in 1932, was renovated in 2009. It features a flagstone terrace and an au pair suite.

Attorney Robert Litowitz bought a contemporary loft-style penthouse on Adams Morgan’s Champlain Street for $1.8 million. The three-bedroom, three-bath condo has soaring ceilings and 1,900 square feet of private terrace. Litowitz is a partner at the intellectual-property law firm Kelly IP.

In Maryland

Financial executive Mark Spindel and wife Kathryn bought a five-bedroom, eight-bath modern house in Glen Echo for $4.1 million. The award-winning home, designed by Robert M. Gurney, overlooks the Potomac River and boasts a saltwater lap pool and a detached guest suite and home office. Mark Spindel is founder and chief executive of the investment-management firm Potomac River Capital.

Construction executive Brian Abt sold a four-bedroom, five-bath Colonial on Rollinmead Drive in Gaithersburg for $1 million. It features a library and sunroom. Abt is division president and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic region for Clark Construction.

This Wesley Heights Tudor, with five bedrooms and five baths, sold for $2.7 million. Photograph by David Pipkin.

In Virginia

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and wife Sherry bought a newly built home for $2.5 million at Creighton Farms, a gated golf-course community in Leesburg. The four-bedroom, five-bath French Provincial boasts a wine cellar and a grand walk-in closet/dressing area in the master bedroom. The home comes with access to concierge services and the Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course. A bonus: Gruden now lives just a few doors away from RG3.

Former congresswoman Margaret Heckler,Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Reagan administration, sold a three-bedroom, three-bath, two-story penthouse condominium on Oak Street in Arlington for $1.7 million. The unit has panoramic views of DC and the monuments and a private elevator.

Attorney L. James D’Agostino and wife Joan sold a six-bedroom, six-bath Colonial on Litton Lane in McLean for $1.7 million. The house has a wood-paneled “clubroom” with built-in bar. D’Agostino is a partner at Greenberg Traurig.

Some sales information provided by American City Business Leads and Diana Hart of TTR Sotheby International Realty.

This article appears in the August 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:43 AM/ET, 07/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This $1.995 million rowhouse has been restored with lots of glam details—and features a huge back patio. By Michelle Thomas
Fusion Photography by HomeVisit.

There are plenty of things we dig about this restored 1900 Victorian on L Street in the West End. Let’s start with the chic, dark herringbone hardwood floors and glamorous black-painted French windows in the bay-front dining area, paired with a sleek modern fireplace setup. Then, in back, there’s a contemporary white-on-white kitchen outfitted with marble counters, an on-trend stainless steel vent-hood, and a wine chiller. Guest bedrooms fill in the second floor, and the top-level master suite includes skylights and great built-in display shelving all along one wall, plus bleached wood floors for an airy effect. Outside, there’s a made-for-entertaining brick-enclosed patio said to have been featured on the DIY Channel. (And downstairs at the garden level, there’s a separate, legal rental unit.) The property is listed at $1.995 million. Get a glimpse below, then go to Washington Fine Properties for more details.

Find Michelle Thomas on Twitter at @michellethomas4

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Posted at 11:07 AM/ET, 07/25/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
If you’re willing to do some sleuthing, you can piece together your house’s past. By Maddy Berner
Rowhouses in Georgetown. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Researching your house’s history is like solving a mystery. It involves collecting clues, retracing steps, and possibly unearthing a trove of fascinating stories.

“This city has always been so transient,” says Paul Williams, who runs the House History Man blog as well as Kelsey & Associates, which researches building histories in DC. “You can get a lot of famous people in American history who have cycled through a little humble house.”

But where should a homeowner start? Every jurisdiction has its own resources, such as historical societies, libraries, and city or county agencies that keep records. The Chevy Chase Historical Society, for instance, publishes material online about how to research your home’s past, while the Historical Society of Washington, DC, hosts workshops. Some people hire professional services such as Williams’s company to do the work, but you can go it alone if you’re willing to put in some time.

1. Uncover the Basics

Start with your home’s “birth certificate”—its building permit. In DC, you’ll likely find it at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. In Maryland, you’ll have to check the state archives in Annapolis. In Virginia, you can visit Arlington’s Center for Local History or Fairfax’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

There is one important caveat. Different areas began requiring building permits at different times. In the District, they became a requirement in 1877; in Arlington, they’ve been the norm since 1935.

If your house is too old to have a permit, you can try other avenues. You may be able to find it on one of the Boschke maps kept in the DC Public Library’s Washingtoniana Collection—an excellent resource that contains materials about local neighborhoods dating to the 1800s. The maps, published in 1857 and 1861, were the first to display residential structures in DC. Mortgage records are another resource. The Arlington County courthouse keeps ones starting in the mid-19th century. Many counties, such as Montgomery, have land deeds going as far back as the 1700s.

One-Stop Shop

Area historians consider the Washingtoniana Collection at DC’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library an indispensable research tool. It was founded in 1905 as a special-collections library after then-library director George F. Bowerman started compiling books and articles about the community. It has since amassed some 25,000 books, 8,000 maps, and hundreds of directories, census records, postcards, and newspaper articles dating as far back as the late 18th century.

“We consider ourselves a one-stop shopping place for those who want to research their DC houses,” says Jerry McCoy, special-collections librarian.

Everything is free to access online with a DC library card, which Virginia and Maryland residents who live in the area can acquire, too. If you’d rather visit in person, you don’t need a card, and staff is available to help with research.

901 G St., NW; 202-727-0321.

If you can track down your building permit, though, it will give you basic information, including to whom the permit was issued, who built the home, what materials were used, and how much it cost. Also check for alteration permits, which can reveal changes or additions made later on.

Once you’ve found a name associated with your house, such as its builder or original owner, your next move is to tackle a city directory—the equivalent of a phone book before most people had phones. The Washingtoniana Collection keeps a full set of these, and you can find them at historic societies and in state archives, too.

2. Dive Into the Details

City directories can reveal the occupation, marital status, race, and other details about those who lived in or were otherwise associated with your home. Anne McDonough, collections manager for the Historical Society of Washington, DC, also suggests using them to explore who else lived nearby to get a sense of what your neighborhood was like all those years ago.

If you have a city or county library card, you have online access to federal census records, which local historians cite as invaluable. Using the names connected to your house, you can pick a year as far back as 1790 to ferret out facts such as where people were born, where else they lived, and whom they were related to.

Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are helpful. The insurance company created detailed maps of neighborhoods across the country. Today you can compare them to see how areas evolved, including changes to street names and to the footprints of buildings and neighborhoods. The Library of Congress keeps a comprehensive collection.

3. Find the Stories

Now for what may become the most fascinating part of your search: digging up historic news articles and photographs.

DC’s historical society has a collection of photos taken by John P. Wymer, who from 1948 to 1952 spent his weekends photographing neighborhood blocks. Some homeowners have found old photos of their houses through his collection. Historical societies and the Library of Congress keep historic photos as well.

Archives of the Washington Post and the old Washington Star (previously the Washington Star-News and the Evening Star) can be found at area libraries. The Post began publishing in 1877, the Star in 1852. There’s no telling what you might find in them—maybe even a suicide or murder that occurred on your property.

Paul Williams’ blog is full of stories about events that took place in local homes. The building that houses the Ann Taylor Loft store north of Dupont Circle, for example, was once a mansion belonging to the widow of a man who made his fortune gold-mining out West. Abraham Lincoln reportedly attended a séance at a property on N Street in Georgetown, and an “anarchist” accidentally blew himself up in front of the R Street residence of the US Attorney General in 1919.

In addition to public records, Williams uses genealogy websites such as He has found living relatives of past homeowners through such portals: “They’re the ones that are really going to have the information and historic photographs that aren’t in the public archives yet.”

Your hunt may also give you something beyond answers to the mystery of your home. Says McDonough: “Having a sense of what has come before you can really help you understand where the city is now—and how the changes are going to impact future generations.”

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 07/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()