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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 ()
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 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.

Update, 8/15: Washington Fine Properties has listed Oak Spring Farm at the anticipated $70 million. The original post follows.

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 ()