News & Politics

Halcyon House Sold to Owners of Evermay

The Georgetown estate and popular wedding venue is expected to close in the new year.

The Halcyon House at 3400-3410 Prospect Street, Northwest, has sold for $11 million. Photograph from The Washingtonian archives.

The talk in Georgetown used to be that developer Anthony Lanier was buying up the neighborhood, or at least the commercial neighborhood. Now he has some serious competition in the residential section of the village: Japanese pharmaceutical moguls Dr. Sachiko Kuno and Dr. Ryuji Ueno. Only a few months ago, the couple bought the historical estate known as Evermay for $22 million. Today it was learned that they bought another historical mansion, Halcyon House, for $11 million. Believe it or not, these were actually good deals for the properties, which were first listed a few years ago at twice those amounts.

Kuno and Ueno are already Georgetown residents. They live in a handsome P Street federal bought several years ago from Mark and Trish Malloch Brown after Brown accepted a post in New York as number two at the United Nations. At the same time, they also bought a home from Lisa Lambert on O Street, reportedly for their cats. The plan now is for them to make Evermay their residence and use Halycon House for “social events”—private social events, that is, which will be a disappointment to the many groups and brides who rented the property for special occasions. Owner John Dreyfuss, a sculptor, lived upstairs, above the public party rooms.

A source close to the couple said they shy away from the limelight and would never seek to have their real estate transactions made public. Halycon House has six rental tenants. According to the source, the tenants had to be notified “within two days of the sale,” meaning today, and one of the tenants, Robert Devaney, published the sale details on The Georgetowner newspaper’s Web site. Some kerfuffle ensued, but the buyers were described to be understanding. “They understand the rules of engagement and that people are curious,” the source said.

The source also said Georgetowners should be relieved about who was successful in buying Halcyon House: “One of the other contenders wanted to carve it into condos, and another wanted to turn it into a retail showroom. Now its integrity will be preserved.” Halycon was built in the late 1780s for the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert. It has spectacular views of the Potomac River, Rosslyn, and beyond.

Who are Kuno and Ueno, other than very private and seriously house-rich? They founded Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, R-Tech Ueno, and S&R Technology Holdings. Both have impressive bios packed with accomplishments in pharmaceutical research and development. From the Sucampo website: “Their joint efforts resulted in the successful launch of Rescula eye drops, the first bioactive lipid ever used to treat glaucoma.”

You won’t see them with any frequency in the pages of the glossy party magazines. They support the Washington Opera and the Smithsonian but otherwise pursue their professional and leisure interests, which in Ueno’s case is Ferraris. He is ranked as a “Class A” racing driver.

The closing on Halcyon House is expected to happen after the first of the year. Any bride who booked the mansion for after that time should maybe be rethinking the plan.