Directly across the street from The Lindens is my favorite house in DC still in private hands, the Mary E. Stewart mansion, designed by Paul Cret.
Cret started work on the house for Stewart, the daughter of a lumber baron, in 1938 and it was completed the next year in 1939. Stewart's sister, Devore Chase, lived next door in a (slightly smaller) grand Louis XV style mansion designed by William Bottomley in 1931. The design was meant to compliment that house but transition to the more sedate Georgian style house (the Lindens) on the other side of the property. Above -Stewart's sister's house, the Devore Chase mansion. photo courtesy of robinsoneditions It currently is the dc residence of the Sultan of Oman and looks only slightly different these days - lucky man!
I think this house sums up all of the charms we Americans have with French style. All of the romance is there: creamy limestone, a tall slate roof, charming balconies and the seemingly random placement of decorative round windows and other sculptural elements. Stewart probably went to Cret with this grocery list as he was an architect born in Lyon who studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts before moving to America.
The house is large at nearly 12,000 SF and nearly fills the lot entirely except for a small brick entry drive and the planting bed you see here along with a small side yard. As she built the house after her sister, I can't help but wonder if she wanted to slightly out-do her: nothing wrong with some sibling rivalry! Kalorama is a tight neighborhood against Rock Creek Park with very few roomy lots for yards: The grand houses tend to max out the property here in the heart of the city.
One nice feature is that the house contains 2 garages off the side street by the service entrance. While the house might look a bit odd slid up against its neighbor like this, I assure you most of the grand residences in this part of the city do the same. The house would look lovely on a large piece of land but with this much style and a primo location, you take what you can get!
I first was made aware of the property years ago when it was featured in the AIADC magazine in the summer issue of 2004 as a home of note, and it became a part of my clipping files -the article is scanned in below.
The complete drawing set for the Stewart house by Paul Cret is located at the Athenaeum library in Philedelphia along with hundreds of other drawings from his estate. As you have to pay $40 to access them online (sorry, but no thanks!!!) I'll have to make a trip up to Philly to view the documents in person someday soon!