Friday, May 15, 2009

Walsh Mansion

While on the embassy tour a few weeks ago, I was able to tour the famous Walsh mansion which houses the Indonesian embassy. Located 2 blocks from Dupont Circle, the house was designed in 1903 by Henry Andersen for Thomas F. Walsh, a gold miner. Not just any gold miner, he found the largest gold mine in the world at the time! He and his wife, Carrie, moved to Washington DC to make their mark on its social scene. The house was built for the sum of $853,000.
While they inhabited the house until Carrie's death in 1932, the site is better known as the home of their daughter, Evalyn Walsh McLean - the last owner of the Hope diamond. She abandoned the house after her mother's death and it was occupied by various goverment agencies at her bequest until it was bought by the Ambassador of Indonesia in 1951 for $335,000. Small loggia over the front entry.
The current main entrance. You see the former Ritz Carlton hotel in the background.Statues from Bali flank the front entrance which ward off evil spirits and invite good spirits.You enter into a tiny vestibule with marble walls and an ornate ceiling.Looking back into the vestibule from the central hall.The most impressive space in the house is the central hall. You can see why! The skylight rises up 3 floors, letting in tons of light. Even with all of the dark finishes the room felt very bright.
Detail of a banister.The skylight.Sconce in the central hall.To the right of the stairway was a room with another prominent doorway. I wasn't sure if this was originally the main entrance or if this was a type of reception room.To the left of the main staircase is the salon. In honor of the day an Indonesian band was playing.
The ceiling in the Louis XIV styled room is incredible. I love the juxtoposition with the Indonesian parasols.More of the salon. The ubiquitous crystal chandelier.Above a doorway. Doesn't this remind you of a carousel?This doorway led to the Conservatory.
Sadly the conservatory has been stripped of most of its charm but with the addition of hideous curtains. Imagine this room filled with potted palms, orchids and trees!
The exterior of the conservatory.
Beyond the salon through a large opening is the music room. Here is a view back into the salon.While it is named the music room for the enormous organ in the corner, I questioned if this was originally a dining room of. It clearly is used as one now.The room is lined with these (china?) cupboards which now house Indonesian crafts.The fireplace in the music room.
Detail of the paneling.
The ceiling in the music room.
Sadly this was all we were able to see of the mansion, but it was so over the top and ornate I had my fill! What an amazing place!


La Maison Fou said...

Love this embassy. The trompe l' oeil ceiling and the Bali staues, just lovely.

C.T. said...

......i want to come and live with you...let me please!! I want to walk behind you whenever you go out and visit these kind of houses..please!!! ......
I'm overwhelmed by the beauty...what are you doing to me??? ^_^

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Yes, it's Evalyn!

pve design said...

Oh my - and how much do you think it would sell for today? The level and detail of craftsmanship is a riot!

Purple Flowers said...

The exterior of this building has waves and curves that I thnk is beautiful. It lends itself to a sensual-like feel.
You captured so many stunning details in the ceilings and handsome bannister. Thank you for sharing this treasure.

Blue said...

One of your best!

Style Redux 2 said...

Another wonderful post. Isn't living in D.C. grand? I can't wait to see you tomorrow-I'll be the one bringing the champagne with the amazing new hat from Bendel's last weekend. ;)

Paris Atelier said...

This is just amazing and beautiful. So pretty. I love the building and the salon ceiling the most! Exquisite!

Terry said...

The skylit central stair, everybody needs one of those so that rooms get light from 2 directions. You'll probably need a neck massage from staring at those ceilings. My brother says these Embassy tours are crowded. Is that right?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thanks, AAL! I saw conflicting spellings everywhere.
The ceilings are probably the most amazing part of this mansion -in each room. I don't think most of the flooring is original, it's all pretty lack-luster; Especially that red carpeting in the main hall!
Terry, the tours can be very crowded- waiting in line for hours-more for the European Union weekend tours though.
This tour had the added benefit of being a sort of gray / rainy day plus I went really early. It still was pretty full though!

Rose C'est La Vie said...

Well done, Stefan, queuing up for this gem of a house. Your pictures are great; a fascinating insight to a mix of cultures. I rather the loved the kitsch 'hideous' curtains I confess.

YSLGuy said...

That is truly amazing! So many gorgeous details.

Fifi Flowers said...

AMAZING architecture!