Because Washington Post managing editor and Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Al Friendly and his family lived there, Georgetowners knew the big brick Georgian on 31st Street as “the Friendly Estate.” He died in 1983 and his widow, Jean, remained there and made it a hub of family life for her five children and 13 grandchildren. It was a festive and, yes, friendly house. When Jean died at home in 2005, though, and a new owner announced wildly unpopular renovation plans, it became known more often as “that damned house.”
But here’s the good news. That unpopular owner gave up and sold the house to a developer, who put it on the market on Tuesday. Now called the Williams-Addison House—a nod to its 19th century roots—the house just hit the market for $16.8 million.
The home has been remade to accommodate 21st century tastes — a grand master suite that's the size of many apartments, an entertainment space big enough to be a ballroom, a media room, wine cellar, health club-sized gym and sauna, plus a broad center hallway that leads to a library, drawing room, dining room, and den. The upstairs has an additional five bedrooms. There are fireplaces throughout. Add to that a guest cottage, garage, and ambitious landscaping plans. Yellow paint was removed to reveal the handsome red brick underneath.
We were given a tour by Victor Valentine of Capital City Real Estate, who is proud of his company’s work with Georgetown architect Dale Overmyer, who got the project underway in 2006 with the previous owner, Marc Teren, a former Washington Post executive who curbed.com described as “notoriously unpopular.” The problems for Teren came when he proposed subdividing the property. There was talk of building a second home on the property, and underground garages. Neighbors balked. Appearances before the Advisory Neighborhood Commission became volatile. There were work stoppages. The Georgetown Metropolitan speculated that “Teren simply ran out of money” and that’s why he sold to Valentine’s group in 2011.
Valentine says he paid about $7 million for the house, which he described as “basically a shell.” The asking price for the finished, 10,000 square foot home, which sits on three-quarters of an acre, is $16.8 million. “You don’t have to worry about development across the street,” he said, noting that the tall front windows look out on Tudor Place mansion and gardens, a National Historic Landmark.
Prospective buyers can tour the house and get a sense of what it would look like furnished as some of the rooms have been staged by Kelly Proxmire, a member of the Washington Design Center Hall of Fame.