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This elegant mansion has 9,000 square feet of luxury living space. By Michelle Thomas

This elegant mansion—on tony California Street in Kalorama—has been carefully restored to incorporate its original 1916 details, such as high ceilings and ornately manteled fireplaces, with new luxe features: heated floors and a large, contemporary kitchen). It’s a spacious property, with six bedrooms and eight baths spread over nearly 9,000 square feet of living space on four floors, and includes parking for ten cars. Outside, there’s a party-ready limestone terrace with a built-in grill and serene pool with water features. The home is listed at $4.99 million. Take a look below, then head to TTR Sotheby’s for the full details.

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Posted at 11:04 AM/ET, 07/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Upperville, Virginia, property is more than 2,000 acres and includes a jet landing strip. By Carol Ross Joynt
Rokeby Stables on the Mellon estate. Photograph via Wikimedia Commons.

The 2,000-plus-acre Upperville, Virginia, estate of philanthropists and art collectors Paul and Bunny Mellon will be listed for sale in the next several days at an asking price of $70 million, according to their executor, Alexander Forger. He also confirms that Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington NFL franchise, has made “an expression of interest” in the prized property, known as Oak Spring. “But a lot of folks are interested,” he says. “Who wouldn’t be? It’s gorgeous territory.”

Forger says, “Our preference would be to sell it as one parcel to a single owner.” What the buyer would get, he says, is “a landing strip, the red brick main house, 20 tenant houses, a pool house, stables and barns, maintenance buildings, greenhouses and guest houses, and virtually every other structure that comes to mind.” The exception is 100 acres that surround the Mellons’ personal residence, an elegant whitewashed farmhouse that is home to Bunny Mellon’s acclaimed Oak Spring Garden Library and the foundation she set up, named after her father, to administer the library, staff, and related educational programs.

Paul Mellon, whose family founded the National Gallery of Art, died in 1999 at age 91. Bunny Mellon died last March at age 103. Her funeral at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville was attended by dozens of family and friends. Mellon herself scripted the service in which she was eulogized by actor Frank Langella, and singer and actress Bette Midler sang “The Rose.”

Forger also says a date has been set for the auction of more than 2,000 items from the Mellon estate—treasures valued at more than $100 million—at Sotheby’s in New York. “The single owner auction will be Monday, November 10, of major art,” he says, “followed by additional sales at Sotheby’s of jewelry and decorative arts.”

The property in Upperville was the Mellons’ principal residence. Already sold were homes in Washington, DC, and New York City. Still on the market is a home at the Mill Reef Club on Antigua, listed for $11 million (plus an additional 27 island acres for $8 million) and a 95-acre oceanfront property on Nantucket that Forger hopes “will be appraised and listed soon.” All proceeds from the Sotheby’s auction and the real estate sales will go to the Gerald B. Lambert Foundation. Lambert, Bunny Mellon’s father, was the president of the Gillette razor company and a founder of Warner-Lambert, which initially marketed Listerine. The Foundation and Library have a separate entrance from Oak Spring farm. According to Forger, “it is carved out” of the overall estate.

Forger says that while certain pieces of the Mellon art collection already have been bequeathed to family and art museums, there is still some furniture at Oak Spring but it does not convey with the property sale. He says there also are still more than 100 employees working and living on the farm, as well as a fleet of farm vehicles. “If a single owner wants to run it as the Mellons did, they will need the employees and equipment.”

We asked whether he expected Oak Spring to sell quickly. “I don’t have any real basis to measure from a comparable property point of view. There’s a lot of farms around, but this one is unique.”

When we asked Dan Snyder’s spokesman, Tony Wyllie, about the team owner’s reported interest in Oak Spring, he said, “I don’t know what you are talking about,” but he also said he was not familiar with the property or Upperville. (We promised to send him the link as soon as the story posted.)

If Snyder were to purchase Oak Spring, he would be the second Washington team owner to have a connection to Mellon. Jack Kent Cooke, when he first moved to Washington, lived practically next door to the Mellons. He reportedly tried to form a friendship that never developed. He is, however, buried at Trinity Church, just across the lawn from the Mellon family plot.

Find Carol Ross Joynt on Twitter at @carojoynt

Posted at 03:20 PM/ET, 07/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This Alexandria mansion was built in 1750. By Michelle Thomas

This grand brick Colonial—also known as the Holland House, and situated on Wolfe Street in the heart of Alexandria’s Old Town—dates back to 1750 and boasts a seal from the Historic Alexandria Foundation and the official written history to prove it. Additions were completed in 1820 and 1930, and in 2010 the home went through an extensive renovation to incorporate modern amenities such as radiant heated floors, automated lights, an intercom, concealed entertainment systems, and an expanded kitchen. That’s in addition to the original and decorative detailing­­—which includes 11 fireplaces, elaborate crown, chair, and ceiling moldings, a wood-paneled library, and gold leafing on the dining-room ceiling. The four-bedroom, seven-bath home is spread across more than 6,200 square feet and sits on more than a quarter acre of land, a large lot for a tightly built area like Old Town. It’s listed at $5.8 million­­—or $6.1 million fully furnished, which includes the carefully curated period antiques, artwork, a signed Steinway piano, and a bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson in the garden. Take a look below, then go to TTR Sotheby’s for the complete tour.

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Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 07/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Four levels—and lots of glass. By Michelle Thomas

At 4,500 square feet, with four levels, five bedrooms, and four and a half baths, this penthouse-level condo in the Ventana building at Penn Quarter’s Ninth and F streets, Northwest, easily dwarfs most of the city’s slender rowhouses. But sheer size isn’t the only draw. It’s also a high-style place, with a playful approach to contemporary design that’s surprising and striking, if perhaps unconcerned with privacy—the corner unit boasts walls of glass in most of its rooms, including the master bathroom. The condo’s cool glass perimeter and custom steel fireplace contrast with the touches of organic warmth from cerused-white-oak floors and cabinetry, a wood-paneled entryway wall, and a raw-edge oak dining table.

Other highlights include Caesarstone counters, high-end Miele appliances, and a built-in entertainment center on the first floor; on upper levels (accessed by the floating stairway with laser-cut decorative rails—or by the elevator), there’s a custom built-in floating desk in the office, a children’s playroom with a full-wall mural and retractable partition, an entertaining area with a wine bar and full-size wine refrigerator, a “green lounge,” and an outdoor terrace on the rooftop. The master suite’s crown jewel is the insanely spacious bathroom, with a spa-like feel and an enormous Calcutta marble soaking tub, plus dual vanities pushed up against the glass. 

The condo is listed at $4.5 million. Take a peek below, then go to Central Properties for the complete tour.

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Posted at 03:30 PM/ET, 07/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This five-level historic home underwent a $10-million gut renovation to reach its current über-contemporary design. By Michelle Thomas
Photographs courtesy of Fusion Photography by HomeVisit.

A historic home turned modern masterpiece, this 1811 Federal-style townhouse on Georgetown’s Smith Row was given a complete facelift—a multi-year $10-million renovation tackled by architects Simon and Hugh Newell Jacobsen, during which literally everything but the bricks was rebuilt. Even the mortar was replaced.

The resulting home—an AIA winner once featured in Architectural Digest—spotlights a clean, modern design, with a pristine, sleek aesthetic and luxe features, including a chic floating wood staircase bordered by a wood-and-glass handrail, a full-level master suite with an all-white marble and tile bath, and a made-for-entertaining outdoor space, outfitted with a terraced patio and a geothermal-heated pool.

According to property records, the current homeowner is prominent cosmetic dermatologist and laser surgeon Dr. Tina Alster. Alster’s a known clotheshorse and art collector, which explains that closet—check out the double-banked rolling wall of shoes—and the all-white decor, built to highlight her carefully collected pieces (including that custom Fornasetti dining set).

The five-story, four-bedroom townhouse is listed at $10.5 million, just a half-million less and a few blocks east of last week’s $11 million historic home. Take a peek below, then head to Washington Fine Properties for the complete details.

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Posted at 11:08 AM/ET, 07/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This historic Prospect Street estate was built in 1797 by a relative of George Mason. By Michelle Thomas

To go along with its grand price tag, this home on Prospect Street in Georgetown boasts a rather grand history: Originally built in 1797 by George Mason’s nephew, John Thomson Mason—who imported brick from England for this home—the estate was later dubbed Quality Hill and has since been owned by several prominent residents, including former senator Claiborne Pell. It’s now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But its legacy isn’t the only draw. This is a large estate, with more than 10,000 square feet of living space, including nine bedrooms, 11 baths, and a spacious outdoor patio and yard. A careful renovation updated the place for modern living while preserving much of the original architecture, and highlights include 14-foot ceilings on the main floor, four fireplaces, an elevator, intricate crown moldings, and mahogany built-in bookcases in the library—a room inspired by George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Marble abounds in the updated kitchen and baths, and there’s a spa room complete with a sauna. The home is listed at $11 million. Take a peek at the historic residence below, then go to TTR Sotheby’s for the complete tour.

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Posted at 02:16 PM/ET, 06/25/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Sources say “Rummy’s” Kalorama residence is privately listed. By Carol Ross Joynt
Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

Word on the street is that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his wife, Joyce, have put their Kalorama house on the market for $4.5 million. It is a private listing, according to real-estate sources. The house is on Kalorama Road, directly across the street from the French ambassador’s residence, which is currently under renovation.

Rumsfeld has lived in Washington on and off since he came here in the 1960s as an Illinois congressman. He later served Republican administrations as the director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Ambassador to NATO, and White House Chief of Staff (to President Gerald Ford). He served as Defense Secretary twice, for Ford from 1975 to 1977 and for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006, overseeing the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rumseld published a memoir, Known and Unknown, in 2011. The Rumsfelds also have a home on the Maryland Eastern Shore.

A curious detail of the Kalorama house: a dachshund sculpture on one of the front gates.

Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

Posted at 12:29 PM/ET, 06/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Politico’s Richard Berke settles in the Palisades for $2.4 million. Plus—NBC’s Peter Alexander and Channel 7’s Alison Starling buy in Arlington.
Modern luxury for $2.4 million in DC’s Palisades. Photographs by David Pipkin.


Richard Berke, executive editor of Politico, and husband Martin Barron bought a modern three-bedroom, four-bath house in the Palisades for $2.4 million. The open-concept home features outdoor dining and lounge areas with a fireplace and Brazilian-walnut deck. Berke, a former New York Times political correspondent and senior editor, joined Politico last year.

Lawyer Morgan Hodgson and husband William Lake bought a four-bedroom, six-bath Federal-style rowhouse in Georgetown for $2.9 million. The Civil War-era home has original hardwood floors and a large family area. Hodgson is a partner at Steptoe & Johnson. Lake is media bureau chief at the Federal Communications Commission.

Lawyer Arif Hyder Ali and wife Salma Hasan Ali, a writer, bought a six-bedroom, six-bath Colonial in the Palisades for $2.4 million. The house has a library and music room and a butler’s pantry. Arif Ali is cochair of the international arbitration practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Salma Hasan Ali is a contributing editor at the Islamic Monthly.

Former US Chamber of Commerce senior vice president Arthur Rothkopf and wife Barbara bought a four-bedroom, four-bath condo in Kalorama for $2.2 million. The 2,897-square-foot unit is in a 1917 Beaux Arts building with a rooftop deck. Arthur Rothkopf was a deputy secretary of Transportation during the George H.W. Bush administration. Barbara Rothkopf is on the Washington Ballet’s board of directors.

This Bethesda house—and its six fireplaces—was sold by William Tauscher for $2.1 million.

In Maryland

Business executive William Tauscher sold a seven-bedroom, nine-bath Colonial in Bethesda for $2.1 million. The house has six fireplaces, an au pair suite, and a swimming pool. Tauscher is CEO of Blackhawk Network,which provides prepaid gift-card systems to companies such as Starbucks.

Local entrepreneur Mei Xu bought a six-bedroom, six-bath house in Bethesda for $2 million. The Arts and Crafts home has a library, wet bar, and breakfast room. Xu and husband David Wang cofounded Pacific Trade International.

TV news couple Peter Alexander and Alison Starling chose a Craftsman with five bedrooms and five baths.

In Virginia

Husband-and-wife TV news broadcasters Peter Alexander and Alison Starling bought a five-bedroom, five-bath Craftsman in Arlington for $1.5 million. Built in 2008, the 5,213-square-foot house features a master suite with a walk-in closet and soaking tub. Alexander is a national correspondent for NBC News. Starling is an ABC7 anchor.

Former Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and wife Mandy sold a six-bedroom, seven-bath Colonial in Leesburg for $1.1 million. The home is a ten-minute drive from the Skins’ Ashburn facility. Shanahan was fired from the team last year and is now offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.

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

This article appears in the July 2014 of Washingtonian.


Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 06/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
What we would buy if we had $2.75 million. By Michelle Thomas
All photos by Fusion Photography by HomeVisit.

In DC real estate, there are few things more enviable than a perfectly renovated old rowhouse—and this particular one is a triple threat, combining a glam restoration with a beautiful private patio and a killer location. The turn-of-the-century end-unit rowhouse sits on one of our favorite city streets, Q Street in eastern Georgetown—a quiet, shady street conveniently positioned just a few blocks from gorgeous Montrose Park and Dumbarton Oaks. The four-bedroom home is a sleek stunner, recently redone with a contemporary style that includes some majorly chic touches. Some of our favorite details? Downstairs, we love the foyer’s bold checkerboard flooring, the kitchen’s Carrera marble counters, custom Porcelanosa glossy white lacquer cabinetry, and statement dining chandelier, and the living room’s modern marble fireplace. Upstairs, the master bedroom is designed with high-drama black wall, and the spa-like master bath features a freestanding soaking tub, eye-catching tilework, and a huge walk-in rain shower. But the best part, perhaps, is the private garden in the rear of the home­—a two-level, surprisingly deep patio space with a cozy stone fireplace area and ample built-in seating throughout. It practically begs for summer entertaining. Fingers crossed for an invite.

This home is listed at $2.75 million. Take a look below, then go to Washington Fine Properties for the full tour.


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Posted at 11:59 AM/ET, 06/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This place has 35 rooms and a wine cellar fit for 3,000 bottles. By Michelle Thomas

It’s the raw numbers that make you realize just how big this McLean mansion is. For example: There are 35 rooms. Eight fireplaces. Twelve bathrooms. A wine cellar that holds 3,000 bottles. And a library with enough shelving for 6,000 books. This hilltop home is pretty huge, and it’s also decked out with a laundry list of opulent details—thanks in part to a recent $1 million renovation. Among the highlights: the double-height grand foyer, which has a floor inlaid with a mahogany, cherry, and maple compass design, mirrored walls, and a large baroque crystal chandelier; the kitchen, featuring white Calcutta Gold granite counters, an imported Italian tin ceiling, a travertine floor, and a breakfast room that has its own a wood-burning fireplace and skylights; the aforementioned 6,000-book library, a double-decker with an antique chandelier and iron spiral staircase; and two master suites, one of which encompasses his-and-her closets, a mirrored dressing hall, and a massive bath with a soaking tub. On the lower level, an entertaining space is set up with a billiards room, a home theater, a bistro-style wet bar with a Brazilian hardwood dance floor, and the wine cellar, finished with 19th-century French oak doors and an antique alabaster gas lantern. Outside, there’s a private walled garden, a pool, and a lion-head fountain in the courtyard. Nearby, a newly renovated carriage house offers a guest bedroom, two baths, a kitchen, a dining area, and a large living area overlooking the pool. This home is listed at $4.295 million. Check it out below, then go to TTR Sotheby’s for the complete details. 

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Posted at 12:34 PM/ET, 06/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()