Friday, September 16, 2011

Townsend Mansion

Recently I attended an alumni event at the Cosmos Club which is housed in the old Townsend Mansion.This mansion along embassy row has long been one of my favorite stately Beaux Arts houses of DC, designed by renowned architects Carrere and Hastings and finished in 1901. Fittingly enough, John M. Carrere had been a member of the Cosmos Club from 1905 until his death in 1911.A true townhouse, the design is a piano nobile, with the primary rooms on the second floor, further away from street noise and dust. After entering the grand foyer seen above, you ascend into a grand hall, reminiscent of the great halls of stately country manors, large enough to double as an entertaining space.This is the staircase today on the 2nd floor. The configuration has changed a bit from the original with the parlor now serving as entry hall and the doorways into the hall and small parlor being closed.The parlor has not changed much and is the most beautiful room in the house.Rather than art hung on the walls (with the exception of the portrait above the mantel), they are painted with beautiful murals with the delicate plasterwork painted white.You can see how impressive this room is, but not over scaled for the size of the house.Fascinating to see the workings of a private club with piles of daily newspapers on this table.This doorway leads you to the main hall.Loved this bust of Benjamin Franklin and you can see a bit of detailing in the murals.Adjacent to the parlor is the 'small parlor' decorated in more of an Empire style.As you can see, this room hasn't changed much either. The damask wall hangings have been replaced with plain painted plaster.Based on the photographs, a lot of the furnishings are from the original owner, Mary Scott Townsend, although used in different areas of the house.This table was originally in the library, next door.Mrs. Townsend lived in the mansion until her death in 1931 when her daughter and husband moved in, Mathilde & B. Sumner Welles. During WWII, the house was leased to the Canadian Women's army corps and was later sold to the Cosmos Club in 1950 for only $364,635 (after they had been paid $1,000,000 for their previous space - smart financial move). The club has taken immaculate care of the house and continues to do so. In 1973 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.Here you see the library in Mrs. Townsend's time. It has had some changes, many years ago to my eye as they feel residential, probably under the care of her daughter Mrs. Welles.
Here you see the table which now is in the small parlor.This original fireplace above has been replace with a much older renaissance styled chimneypiece.The intricate plaster and wood beamed ceilings are original although now painted white.Even the hall has a fireplace. The mantels found throughout the house were much deeper than any I had seen before, well over 24".Across the hall from the library is the dining room with breakfast room alcove.The room is richly paneled with a painted ceiling.

Here too the fireplace mantels have been traded out for much simpler ones which are still appropriate to the space.

On the opposite side of the room from the fireplace is a built-in marble server, matching the mantel.Here you begin to see the ornate ceiling decoration. The recessed lights are obviously not original and clearly unfortunate. A detail of the beautiful paneling.The Cosmos Club has expanded far beyond the original building through numerous additions and also acquiring adjacent properties. The dining room has become an internal room now and this walkway goes past the breakfast room bay.The hall is artfully treated as a conservatory which I feel respects the original house.The ballroom on the plan above is currently being renovated so I was unable to get a picture, but here is one from Mrs. Townsend's time.The bedrooms upstairs were no less grand or less sumptuously detailed than the main rooms below.At the end of the hall is entry to the garden which is still a beautiful place; the sound of trickling water from the fountain drowns out noise from passing traffic. Originally designed by Frederick Law Olmstead Jr, the gardens have been substantially altered.

All historic photos from the Library of Congress: color photos are from my cellphone camera.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Artisan Lamp Co.

The best lighting store by far in the DC area is Artisan Lamp Co. I stopped in there with a client the other day and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you!

Located in Cleveland Park, they specialize in restored antique and vintage light fixtures. I loved this architectural marble lamp. Many of these fixtures are less expensive than new lighting but they have incredible quality and patina that is hard to reproduce - so important for a remodel or update to an older house.

My favorite is this charming little cottage lamp ceiling fixture. It's been in the window for weeks and was what drew me into the store originally - see that price, only $95! I only wish I had a place for it.

There is something for everyone in a multitude of styles, whether it be french lantern, empire chandelier or Baccarat crystal (all in this photo).

I can see this chandelier in a grand dining room and check out the gilded bronze sconce below!This little empire brass sconce was of incredible quality and we picked it up for a master bedroom vestibule.Finding sets of anything antique is generally a challenge, so it was a thrill to find a set of 3 empire torch sconces! We picked these up for a new masculine master bathroom remodel.

I always have my trusty tape measure with me -my key fob! You never know when you'll need one.

While in Cleveland Park, I came across an odd sight on a dry day: water gushing OUT OF THE STREET and into the adjacent drain. I suppose it's simply a broken water pipe but it was a bit odd none the less!

You can visit the Artisan Lamp Company at 3331 Connecticut Avenue, 1 block from the Cleveland Park metro stop.

All pictures via my droid camera phone - I was not approached by the company or compensated in any way for this post. I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jack Spade opens in Georgetown

I was excited to find out that Jack Spade quietly opened up here in Georgetown last week. I had been intrigued by rumors they would be coming to DC for a year now and was caught off guard to find them just up the street! I've been going to the original store in Soho for years now every time I visit New York.They do the best job merhandising of any store I know so I wanted to share some of the interiors with you. You know it's not a 'normal' store right upon entering when you are greeted with a bright orange checkout counter. The displays are so well done you don't want to mess them up. I love that they mix in their famous bags with their line of clothing and even other fun items and books.

It all looks like a stylish gentleman's closet (or my dream closet!).The store is 2 floors with the second story being cavernous in size.I loved this little vignette of the beautiful rug and round table. I was glad to hear they used one of my favorite local vintage stores, Good Wood, for a lot of their furnishings.I could see myself carrying this pinstripe bag to work!Along the staircase are cubbies with a fascinating display of objects and books. I could spend all day here checking it out.But what is that light fixture in the foreground? I think it wins the award for cutest light ever: A miner on a rope carrying a lantern!A close up of the stair cubbies.Spread throughout the store are fun little displays - I wasn't sure if they were for sale but if so, I don't think they'll last long. I loved these offbeat toby jugs.And these vintage nutcrackers -I wanted to take the cute one on the right home with me!No detail was overlooked, not even the dressing rooms. I loved the color palette as well as the retro boy's wallpaper.

And what do you get for the guy in your life who has everthing? How about a ping pong paddle case!

In other Georgetown news, the park along the riverfront finally opened (across the street from the movie theater) and I'm loving this fountain!

You can visit the Jack Spade store at 1250 Wisconsin Avenue -just 2 blocks north of M street.