My recent evening walk through the Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood (guided by Scott, Director of the Heurich House Mansion and my new mentor for all things old and architectural) was an awakening. It is my perfect city neighborhood: amazingly quiet with beautiful historic buildings, and only a few blocks from Dupont Circle. I will live there one day, I promise. And when I do, I want to live in The Lindens:
Named after the linden trees that once surrounded it, this lovely house is the oldest in Washington, D.C. and also the largest wooden house ever constructed in the Colonies (as in New England). The amazing home, which is covered in wooden clapboards that look like stone, was originally built in 1754 in Danvers, Massachusetts for an ostentatious Tory named Robert “King” Hooper. Mr. Hooper was a man who once purchased the corner house on his street because his enormous coach, a replica of that used by King George III, could not pass it (once his, he cut a large passageway through the house to accommodate his vehicle).
In 1934, it was purchased by George and Miriam Morris for about $14,000 (in 2005, it was on the market for $12.75M). Mrs. Morris had been searching the country for a historic colonial home to transplant onto her empty lot on 2401 Kalorama Road. Obviously this was no ordinary lady – Mrs. Morris was a woman dedicated to the eighteenth century, who “as a young matron, started collecting Queen Anne and Chippendale pieces with the hope of one day owning and old house that would be a suitable setting for them.”
Mrs. Morris found her dream home in the Lindens. The house was dismantled and carefully packed over seven weeks, and was reassembled at its present location under the supervision of Walter Mayo Macomber, former resident architect of Colonial Willimsburg and resident architect of Mount Vernon and Stratford, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee.
The Lindens made the journey almost fully intact (with only a scratched doorstep, cracked window panes, and slightly damaged dormer sash). The only real changes made in the almost three year reassembly were a new foundation and some added feet for bathrooms. Outstanding features of this fine work of Georgian architecture include a high-ceilinged entrance hall unusual for its time, a handsome spiral staircase, and carved Corinthian capitals.
The most amazing part of the house is probably its hand printed scenic wallpaper made in France, in shades of vermilion, gray, and green. Experts claim that The Lindens is the only house in the world with three complete sets of French nineteenth century hand-blocked wallpaper. (I wish I could show you pictures, but I can’t find any in color!) You can see the panels through the front windows at night if you’re something of a stalker, as I am.
I am taking donations for my down payment. Please send them my way.