The median home price in Crestwood, a quiet, leafy enclave nestled against the western side of Rock Creek Park, is about $850,000. But the house at 1907 Quincy Street, Northwest, at the end of a cul de sac overlooking the park, is selling for only $600,000.
What’s the catch? Well, it’s in terrible shape after being abandoned 34 years ago after it was bombed by Croatian nationalists. They attempted to take out a Yugoslavian diplomat at the height of Cold War tensions in the Balkans. Nobody was killed in the early-morning explosion on June 3, 1980 that targeted Yugoslavian Ambassador Vladimir Sindjelic, but the blast caused extensive damage to the four-bedroom colonial, in addition to rattling one of DC’s most idyllic communities. A Croatian splinter group claimed responsibility for the attack in a letter to the Washington Post that requested, among other demands, that another convicted Croatian terrorist and “karate master” sitting in a Swedish prison receive medical treatment.
The gift shop at the Statue of Liberty was also bombed that day in an attack that the FBI also attributed to Croatian separatists, but no arrests appear to have been made in either case. State Department officials speculated the bombings might have been a warning shot to President Jimmy Carter ahead of a planned visit to Yugoslavia to support its unity following the death of President Josip Broz Tito.
Since the 1980 bombing, the Crestwood house has remained empty and left to deteriorate. The Croatian extremists who attempted to blow it up might be further miffed that after Yugoslavia’s 1992 dissolution, the house passed to the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to DC property records.
Besides being in a lovely neighborhood, the house also sits in an enviable DC Public Schools tract, with local kids attending highly rated Powell Elementary, Alice Deal Middle School, and Wilson High School. But it’s in no condition to be inhabited, with overgrown mold splotches covering the walls, tree limbs growing through broken windows, and ceilings so delicate, prospective buyers are required to sign waivers before touring the property. It’s not necessarily a tear-down, says Rebecca Love, an agent with the real-estate listing service Redfin.
But between a house in such poor condition being an unlikely candidate for financing and the additional hoops that come with buying from a foreign government, the Bosnian embassy is only considering cash offers, allowing 1907 Quincy to stay on the market for much longer than the 11-day median in Zip code 20011.
Turns out the house isn’t just connected to Eastern European ethnic wars, though. Before Yugoslavia, the house was owned by Ezra Taft Benson, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s agriculture secretary who later served as the president of the Mormon church.
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.