Locating History on Capitol Hill

From the Wall Street Journal's OWN Magazine - photos and story

A synonym for Location Location Location? Try History History History. "Face it," says Washington architect Judith Capen, "Most of our prime lots were developed years ago."

Many of them on or around Capitol Hill.

Capen's firm, architrave architects, pc, has been involved in many high-profile restorations including the Library of Congress and the U. S. Capitol, "Talk about a good location," she says with a laugh.

Oh, To Own a Slice of History

From the Wall Street Journal's OWN Magazine

If the first president didn't sleep in every grand house in the Washington area in 1801 he certainly visited. Jefferson too.  "It was a very small town," says Jeanne Livingston, a realtor with Long and Foster's Georgetown office. "Everyone knew everyone."

One place they most certainly visited was the magnificent Evermay.  Built over a ten year period at the turn of the 19th century, the 12,000 square foot mansion in the cricket chirping quiet of upper Georgetown is one of the largest homes in town, and having recently sold for $25.9 million, one of the largest real estate transactions in the city in years. Livingston had the listing.   

On the National Register of Historic Places and set on three and a half secluded acres, the property includes a carriage house, a smoke house, formal gardens, and tennis courts. The orangery with its 17-foot ceilings has Palladian windows opening onto a patio used for parties-- parties that in recent decades required sufficient parking for 100 cars.  

"The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were frequent guests, and both President George Bush and President George W. Bush as well as President Clinton enjoyed private tete a tetes," says Livingston.

Margot Kelly -- Hail to the (Porn) Queen of Barracks Row

The Hill Rag

July 2011

Barracks Row was not always cupcakes and cosmos, a fact that might surprise some newcomers to the Hill.

"The porno queen of 8th Street, that's what they called me," laughs Margot Kelly. That was near the start of her 40 year odyssey: cleaning up 8th Street. Barracks Row. It's been a bumpy ride.

In the late 1960s, when the liquor store closed in a building she owned across from the Marine Barracks, Kelly was approached by a man wanting to open a bookstore. A bookstore on 8th Street! Fancy that, she thought.

She instantly leased him the space and fantasized, in six month's time, adding a winding staircase to the second floor "for a tea room where people could sit and read.”

"I don't intend to have that kind of bookstore," he said, red-faced. 

The Active Life

Wall Street Journal. OWN Magazine. March 17, 2011

Gunston. Mason Neck, VA

While Washington D.C. remains a town of words, the growing focus on physical activity is stunning. From Potomac, Maryland to Potomac, Virginia – and all points in between – the region's developing a six-pack.

There was once a time when some would say the words “active life” in the Washington area meant adjusting the Barcalounger for a tussle with the Sunday crossword puzzle. In ink.

But those days have long since passed.

"There's a premium on homes near parks and trails,” says Hans Wydler, an associate broker with Long & Foster's Bethesda, Maryland office. “Shiny new gyms are springing up in town and out: Equinox and Crunch and LA Fitness among them."

Ever since former President Clinton’s much publicized morning jogs, it feels as if the D.C. Metro Area has spurred into action. President Obama’s rigorous workout routines and the First Lady’s war on fat seem fitting in a city that has the largest bike sharing program in the U.S., with over 100 stations across Washington and Arlington.

"Without a doubt, we've become 100 percent more health conscious, more active," says Creig Northrup of Long & Foster. No matter the income bracket, people are into "walking and hiking and jogging and biking. And they want to live in communities with jogging paths and bike trails."