EXCLUSIVE: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Buys $7.95 Million DC Home

The house in Massachusetts Avenue Heights once belonged to a former Fed chairman.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

After being confirmed by the Senate this summer, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the Chicago hotel heiress and philanthropist said to be worth more than $2 billion, has found herself a nice new home in Northwest DC.

Pritzker plunked down $7.95 million for the home in Massachusetts Avenue Heights, according to sources. In a recent press release announcing the sale, though not the buyer, listing agent Washington Fine Properties described the home as “a perfect example of true Georgian architecture with meticulous renovation. It features intricately detailed crown molding, magnificent millwork, ten-foot ceilings, and seven bedrooms.” It was built in 1929 and occupies an “extremely private” 12,865-square-foot lot with a front security gate. One of the former owners of the home was the late William McChesney Martin Jr., who served as US Federal Reserve Bank chairman from 1951 to 1970.

Called “Chicago royalty” by National Journal, Pritzker hails from the family that founded Hyatt hotels. A longtime friend and supporter of President Barack Obama, she served as his campaign’s national finance chair in 2008 and was sworn in as the 38th secretary of Commerce on June 26. The agency’s website describes her as “a civic and business leader with more than 25 years of experience in the real estate, hospitality, senior living, and financial services industries.” She attended Harvard for her undergraduate degree and Stanford University for her MBA. According to Forbes, Pritzker’s net worth is $2.2 billion, landing her at number 277 on its list of billionaires in the United States.