News & Politics  |  Real Estate

A One-Bedroom Cottage Is Selling for $1M in Georgetown

The historic "Little Red House" is nearly as old as the United States.

Photograph courtesy of Gretchen Weigel.

A historic, one-bedroom cottage that’s just about as old as the United States itself—and once housed one of America’s top Soviet code breakers—is up for sale in Georgetown. The current asking price? $998,000.

That’s about $983 per square foot, which—believe it or not—isn’t outrageously high for a home in Georgetown. According to Redfin, the median sale price of a house in the neighborhood went for $897 per square foot last year. What the two-story house lacks in square footage, it makes up for in charm and lore, says Katherine Fisher, a public historian who includes the home in her “Spies of Georgetown” tour.

Tucked between two row houses on 28th Street, the crimson-red cottage looks like something out of a storybook. It even has quasi-mythic origins. According to Fisher, it’s believed a British sea captain built the house in the 1700s. “It looks like any cottage you might see on the seacoast of England,” says Fisher, who loves the house’s original wood paneling and flooring. “It’s really like walking back into time when you go in there. If I had a million dollars, I would have bought it.”

Inside the home’s living room, you’ll find weathered wooden beams framing the ceiling. While it’s estimated the house was built around 1780, one of those beams has the year 1721 etched into it.

Though the house is estimated to have been built in 1780, this wooden beam has the year 1721 etched into it. Photograph courtesy of Gretchen Weigel.

Adding to the house’s intrigue is one of its past residents, Ann Caracristi. A renowned cryptologist during World War II, Caracristi later became the first female deputy director of the National Security Agency, all the while calling the cottage her home for 65 years.

Many traces of Caracristi’s life are still inside the home—which she nicknamed “Little Red,” according to Fisher—including some of her wooden desks, her collection of books, and her beloved pewter pieces, all of which are being sold with the house. That said, don’t expect to find any NSA secrets hidden within its walls. “My understanding is that the NSA swept the house after [Caracristi] died to make sure there was nothing top secret there,” said Fisher.

Ann Caracristi’s pewter collection, which lines the old brick fireplace, is being sold with the house. Photograph courtesy of Gretchen Weigel.
Several of Ann Caracristi’s wooden desks are also being sold with the house. Photograph courtesy of Gretchen Weigel.
The house includes a modern addition for a kitchen and sitting area that overlooks the backyard garden. Photograph courtesy of Gretchen Weigel.
Ann Caracristi’s library comes with the house’s built-in bookshelves, as do Caracristi’s and her partner Gertrude Kirtland’s twin beds, according to Katherine Fisher. Photograph courtesy of Gretchen Weigel.

Jessica Ruf
Assistant Editor