When information technology entrepreneur Frank Islam and his wife, Debbie Driesman, bought the two Potomac lots they would merge to build their new home, they let the local fire department knock down the existing houses. Just as a practice exercise. Islam and Driesman's 40,000-square-foot mansion, which they named Norton Manor—after the pocket of Potomac in which it's located and, presumably, because it's cool to give your house a name—features long colonnades, a reflecting pool, a tea house, and a 2,000-square-foot koi pond. And that's just the exterior. The interior is the subject of the second installment of the NowThisNews video series "DC Cribs," a takeoff on the old MTV celebrity house porn series Cribs. (It's also featured in a spread in the September issue of Washington Life.) Inside, Islam and Driesman, with the help of their decorator, are keen on presidential memorabilia, including busts of Washington and Lincoln, and throw pillows that are replicas of ones used in the White House. Islam is also quite proud of the desk in his library, a replica of the one in the Oval Office crafted from timbers of the British ship HMS Resolute. The real desk, gifted by Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880, was first placed in the Oval Office by President John F. Kennedy. Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford opted for other desks. President Obama uses the desk, and of the last six presidents, only George H. W. Bush declined it. Of course, the actual Resolute desk is made from the remnants of a British ship that explored the Arctic until it got lodged in the ice and had to be abandoned. It was only recovered thanks to an American whaling ship that stumbled upon it in an ice flow. Islam and Driesman's desk is just a very convincing knockoff. And you can get one, too. A fake Resolute desk goes for $6,495 on Amazon.
With a five-year, $80 million contract extension that will keep him in Washington through 2019, the Wizards' point guard John Wall is setting down more permanent roots in the area. Wall is trading in his Gallery Place condominium for a sprawling mansion in Potomac. Wall, 22, paid $4.9 million for the place, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the sale. The deal on the eight-bedroom, 12-bathroom house closed two weeks ago. While plenty luxurious, Wall's new 17,350-square-foot spread is not nearly as ostentatious as the homes owned by some of Washington's top sports stars. While former Wizards troublemaker Gilbert Arenas opted for shark tanks and grottos, Wall's place features a massive backyard filled with all kinds of athletic facilities, including a pool with attached hot tub, putting green, volleyball court, shuffleboard court, horseshoe pit, and tetherball pole. There's also an indoor basketball court, in case Wall ever wants to practice at home. Inside, the house includes a sunken home theater, a six-car garage, a gym, and a sprawling kitchen. Altogether it's nearly twice as big—and twice the price—of the Aldie, Va. house Robert Griffin III moved into earlier this year. (Although Griffin's house includes a stone-carved wine cellar.) In moving trading up from the Gallery Place condo, though, Wall is giving up an easy commute. Not that he'll truly be that far from the Wizards living in Potomac, where his boss, Ted Leonsis, also dwells.
Lawyer Melanie Aitken bought a six-bedroom, six-bath Arts and Crafts-style home in Kent for $2.8 million. The house sold in three days for $300,000 above the asking price. Aitken, who specializes in global antitrust and competition law, is managing principal of Bennett Jones’s Washington office.
Restaurateur Christianne Ricchi sold a three-bedroom, four-bath rowhouse on 28th Street in Georgetown for $2 million. The house has a garden terrace with a fountain and two fireplaces. Ricchi is the owner and executive chef at I Ricchi, an upscale Italian restaurant near Dupont Circle.
Public-relations executive Geoff Morrell and wife Ann traded up. The couple sold a four-bedroom, three-bath Colonial on Alton Place in American University Park for $1.2 million—more than $230,000 over its list price. They also bought a six-bedroom, five-bath Colonial in Spring Valley for $1.7 million. Morrell, former press secretary for the Pentagon, is head of US communications for the oil company BP.
Charles and Toby Gati, experts in international affairs, bought a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium in the West End for $1.7 million. The 1,800-square-foot condo has views up M Street to Georgetown. Charles Gati is a professor of Russian and Eurasian studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Toby Gati is a senior international adviser at the law firm Akin Gump.
Endodontist Gael Delany sold a four-bedroom, three-bath Cape Cod on 45th Street in American University Park for $930,000. The house sold in six days for $110,000 above list price. Delany practices in Northwest DC.
Lobbyists Joel Kaplan and Laura Cox Kaplanbought a five-bedroom, seven-bath Colonial in Chevy Chase for $3.5 million. The house, on a double lot, has a mahogany library and heated pool. Joel Kaplan was White House deputy chief of staff during the George W. Bush administration; he’s now vice president of public policy at Facebook. Laura Cox Kaplan oversees regulatory affairs and public policy at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Lawyer Troy Dow and wife Rachel bought a five-bedroom, seven-bath home on Yonder Hills Way in Oakton for just under $2 million. The house, on two acres, has a pool, hot tub, waterfall, putting green, and game room. A senior lecturing fellow at Duke University Law School, Dow is vice president and counsel at the Walt Disney Company.
Defense expert Charles McQueary sold a two-bedroom, three-bath condo on Oak Street in Arlington for $1.5 million. It has a 14-foot wall of glass opening onto a terrace with views of downtown DC. McQueary has held leadership positions in the Defense Department as well as the Department of Homeland Security. Before joining the public sector, he was president of General Dynamics Advanced Technology Systems.
Some sales information provided by American City Business Leads and Diana Hart of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.
This article appears in the September 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.
Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier and his wife, Amy, have listed their six-bedroom, seven-bath home in DC’s Berkley for $3.5 million. The house, which is decorated throughout in Ralph Lauren Home, has a workout room, a wine cellar, and a three-car garage. An online tour of the home shows several plush spaces: a library/pub room with a granite-topped mahogany bar surrounded by bookshelves and a master suite with his-and-hers baths and walk-in closets. The decor embodies the preppy Ralph Lauren look: lots of navy blue, stripes, and paisleys as well as rich mahogany accents and framed photos of horses.
The house, which was built by well-known custom home builder Jim Gibson, is part of Phillips Park, the luxury home community off Foxhall Road that sits on land formerly owned by philanthropists Marjorie and Duncan Phillips. The Baiers bought the house new in March 2009 for $3.2 million.
Baier is the host of Fox’s Special Report, which airs weeknights at 6.
On Monday, Washington Fine Properties listed a home on University Terrace in DC’s Kent neighborhood for $19.5 million—making it the most expensive home on the market now in the District. What does nearly $20 million buy you these days? Five bedrooms and seven baths spread out over 10,000 square feet, plus a guest house, a pool, and gardens on more than six acres. “There’s hardly any other property in the city that has that much land,” says Tom Anderson, president of Washington Fine Properties.
According to DC tax records, the home is owned by “James C. Biddle Trustee.” Biddle, who died in 2005, was president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as an adviser to First Ladies Jackie Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson on historic furniture.
The house—which came in eighth on our list of 50 Most Expensive Homes last year and is currently assessed for $13.7 million—has recently been home to Biddle’s ex-wife, Louisa, and her late husband, former ambassador Robert Duemling, who died in July. It sits on University Terrace, a woodsy, winding road near Battery Kemble Park in upper Northwest Washington.
If you were to buy the home, you’d be neighbors with former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie Jr., who lives a few houses down in a four-bedroom that’s assessed for about $750,000. Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, also comes home to University Terrace; his five-bedroom is assessed for $3.3 million. A Kent cocktail party might also include TV journalist Tucker Carlson and the power couple of NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and former Chairman of the Fed Alan Greenspan.
According to the listing, there is a “possibility of subdivision,” which may explain the hefty price tag. But is $19.5 million realistic in this economy? “We know the air is always thinner at the top, but there are big buyers out there,” says listing agent Heidi Hatfield. “I’m happy to report the phone is ringing.”
By Kathleen Bridges
Saturday, rain or shine, 12 of the midcentury-modern gems dotting the Alexandria enclave known as Hollin Hills will open their doors to the public as part of the neighborhood's annual House & Garden Tour.
As if you needed another excuse to don your best Betty Draper shift and shake up a fresh batch of Manhattans.
When you walk into a home that dates to 1730, you encounter some things you might expect to find in a 262-year-old property: uneven plank flooring, creaky baseboards, wooden beams. What you don't expect to find, however, is a space that feels modern, even luxurious--which is exactly what we discovered when we took a recent tour of the Rosedale Farmhouse.
Photographs courtesy of Home Visit.
Address: 2030 R St., NW
Details: 6,000 square feet; 6 BR, 4+ BA; roof deck, 3-car parking, media system, elevator; lower-level space could function as gallery or in-law suite.
Listing Agents: Cathie Gill, John Gill, and John Pruski
We know, we’re still in Dupont (and still not completely over that Corcoran Street property we showed you last time). But we couldn’t resist the opportunity to sneak a peek at this four-level Victorian we discovered on a recent trip to the neighboring Phillips Collection.
Basketball coach Jim Larranaga and wife Elisebeth sold a five-bedroom, five-bath Colonial in Oakton for $1.3 million. The house has a two-story stone fireplace in the family room. Jim Larranaga led the George Mason men’s basketball team to the final four in 2006. He’s now head coach at the University of Miami.
Former Redskin Clinton Portis sold a home on Georgetown Pike in McLean for $1.7 million. At the end of a private drive, the five-bedroom, six-bath house has a master suite with a balcony. Portis bought it in 2004 for $2 million. A running back, he played for the Skins from 2004 to 2010; he’s now a free agent.
Lawyer James Comey sold a five-bedroom, eight-bath Colonial on Kirby Road in McLean for $1.7 million. It has two kitchens, two family rooms, and a media room. Former deputy attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, Comey is now general counsel at the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates.
Former attorney general John Ashcroft and wife Janet sold a four-bedroom, three-bath townhouse on Colonial Terrace in Arlington for $1.1 million. John Aschroft, a former senator from Missouri as well as governor of that state, was US attorney general from 2001 to 2005. He’s now an ethics adviser for Xe Services, the military contractor that used to be Blackwater Worldwide.
Lawrence Lindsey bought a five-bedroom, five-bath house on Hampton Way in Fairfax Station for $1.1 million. On more than five acres, it has a master-bedroom suite with a double-sided fireplace and a sun deck with a hot tub. Former director of the National Economic Council at the White House, Lindsey is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank. He’s also CEO of the Lindsey Group, an economic advisory firm.
Shawn Springs sold this six-bedroom home for $5 million. Photograph by David Pipkin
Former Redskin Shawn Springs sold a six-bedroom, nine-bath home in McLean for $5 million. The 11,300-square-foot house has a wine cellar, bar, and home theater. A cornerback, Springs played for the Skins from 2004 to 2008.
Retired Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen and wife Pamela bought a five-bedroom, five-bath Colonial in Vienna for $1.5 million. The 6,300-square-foot house was built in 2009. Allen oversaw the federal responses to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He’s now a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation.
Republican heavyweight Chris Cox and wife Rebecca Gernhardt Cox sold a six-bedroom, six-bath Colonial on Glen Drive in Alexandria’s Belle Haven neighborhood for $1.4 million. The house listed for $1.6 million and was on the market more than a year. Chris Cox represented California in Congress from 1989 to 2005; from 2005 to January 2009, he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He’s now a partner at the Boston-based law firm Bingham McCutchen.
Michael Kinsley and Patricia Stonesifer, along with Stonesifer’s daughter Sandra, bought a four-bedroom, six-bath Victorian near Dupont Circle for $2.5 million. The seller was interior designer Lori Graham. The house has a top-floor master suite with a “midnight kitchen” and a roof deck with outdoor shower. Kinsley is an editorial adviser for Bloomberg View, a new opinion section of Bloomberg News, and is founding editor of the online magazine Slate. Patricia Stonesifer, former chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is chair of the Smithsonian Institution’s board of regents.
Former United States CEO of Volkswagen Stefan Jacoby and his wife, Roberta Bantel, sold a four-bedroom, five-bath Federal-style house on Q Street in Georgetown for $2.2 million. Jacoby is now CEO of Volvo.
Lawyer Robert Reznick sold a five-bedroom, five-bath Colonial on Sedgwick Street in Spring Valley for $1.9 million. The house has three fireplaces and a home office. Reznick is a litigation partner in the DC office of Orrick.
Banking executive Frank G. LaPrade III bought a five-bedroom, four-bath house on Newark Street in Cleveland Park for $1.7 million. Built in 1896, it has original architectural details such as Palladian windows. LaPrade is chief enterprise-services officer at Capital One.
Former Channel 9 news anchor Tracey Neale sold a Federal-style home on 33rd Street in Georgetown for $1.3 million. Built in 1865, the former carriage house has three bedrooms and three baths. Neale founded Veronica’s Story, a nonprofit that advocates for vulnerable children.
Journalist Katherine Boo and her husband, professor and scholar Sunil Khilnani, sold a five-bedroom, four-bath Victorian on O Street near Logan Circle for $1.1 million. Boo is a staff writer for the New Yorker; Khilnani is director of South Asia Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Some sales information provided by American City Business Leads and Diana Hart of TTR Sotheby's International Reality.
This article appears in the September 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.