The apartment where journalist Bob Woodward lived when reporting the Watergate scandal hit the market in April. A 500-square-foot studio near 17th and P streets in DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, the apartment is listed for $215,000. In The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat, Woodward wrote that he would place a flowerpot on his balcony to signify that he wanted a meeting with Mark Felt, the FBI official who became his secret source. When Felt wanted to meet with Woodward, he’d circle page 20 in Woodward’s New York Times and draw the hands of a clock on the bottom of the page to indicate what time they should meet in a Rosslyn parking garage.
The current owner, Chris Blandamer, inherited the apartment last year from his uncle, a World War II veteran who had lived there almost 25 years. Blandamer, 39, had planned to renovate it and use it as an investment property, but after his wife got pregnant they decided to sell it and buy a home for their growing family. “I would love for someone who’s come to Washington early in their career to buy it and fix it up,” he says. “If you’re interested in politics or journalism, what better apartment?”
Listing agent Robyn Porter says the relatively low price is a reflection of how much work the space needs. She describes it as “a shell of a unit waiting for someone to put their stamp on it.” Though it has no kitchen appliances or cabinets, it still has that balcony.
Also on the market: the five-bedroom, three-bath home where former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Hanssen lived while spying for the Russians. The house, on Talisman Drive in Vienna, originally listed for $725,000, but the price dropped to $699,000 after a few weeks. Tax records indicate that the house is owned by Hanssen’s wife, Bernadette “Bonnie” Hanssen and is assessed for about $625,000. An online tour shows a suburban split-level in need of updates. The best features are its large rear deck and woodsy back yard. The house wasn’t used in the 2007 movie Breach, in which Chris Cooper played Hanssen.
Now serving a life sentence in federal prison, Hanssen bought the home in 1987 for $205,000 and lived there with his wife and children until his arrest in 2001. Many neighbors were shocked to learn of his double life.
Bonnie Hanssen’s realtor, Patrick Kilner, makes no mention of its previous owner in the online listing, saying only that the home is “perfect for a growing family that wants to put down roots.”
For the buyer with money to burn, the Middleburg farm of former senator John Warner and actress Elizabeth Taylor is on the market for $10.3 million. It once belonged to philanthropist and thoroughbred-racehorse owner Paul Mellon, who gave it to daughter Catherine Conover Mellon as a wedding gift when she married John Warner in 1957. When Warner and Mellon divorced, he kept the farm as part of the settlement.
In 1976, Warner married Taylor. Listing agent Kimberly Spear says Warner visited the farm on occasion but never lived there because there was no house on the property at the time. The current owner bought the farm from the couple in 1979. “We have Elizabeth Taylor’s signature on the deed,” says Spear.
A three-bedroom, three-bath stone house now stands on the 225-acre farm. Spear says homes in this price range can take up to several years to sell. But she’s hopeful the home’s history may be a draw: “I don’t think it’s going to take that long.”
At the other end of the price spectrum, GOP congressman Ron Paul has a Web site for selling his house in Lake Jackson, Texas (buyronpaulshouse.com), that’s a reminder of just how expensive Washington is: Paul’s home has four bedrooms, five baths, and an oversize pool. Asking price? $325,000.
This article appears in the June 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.