Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Belgian ambassador's residence by Horace Trumbauer

Recently I had the pleasure to tour the Belgium ambassador's residence in DC with the Mid-Atlantic ICA. Designed for the Dodge family as a wedding gift for daughter Delphine and her husband Raymond T. Baker  in the early 1930s, the house was purchased in 1945 as the ambassador's residence and has been thoughtfully maintained ever since. This was a precursor to the much more famous Rose Terrace commissioned by Anna Dodge Dillman which was demolished in 1976.
The house sits on exclusive Foxhall Road here in Washington which at the time of its building was mainly lined with large estates such as this. The house is barely visible from the road behind a large gate and bushes.
One would imagine that the Dodges would recognize their house immediately as blessedly nothing appears to have changed.
The gardens are simple and act as a gorgeous setting for this magnificent house designed after the Parisian Hotel Rothelin-Charolais by Lassurance from 1700. I thought of my talented blog friend Andie from Divine Theater immediately upon seeing these urns!
The detail on the house is stunning, restrained, and in immaculate condition thanks to good care and a recent renovation.
The front was in shadow when I arrived but thankfully the rear is a mirror image as these photographs turned out much better. Contrasting the circular entry drive, the expansive rear terrace looks out over a large lawn on a wooded promontory overlooking the Potomac River far below.
The intricate railing was also recently restored and is a work of art. I wish we saw more ironwork this detailed today but it is a rare thing.
 Small wings at either side house a breakfast room and morning room.
 The lamp posts were only recently added but fit in nicely.
 As you can see the view is stunning although somewhat hidden by the trees.
The bronze hardware itself deserves a blog post (or two).  Oddly enough it was different from room to room (I'll have more pictures of those in future posts).
 This cozy corner off the dining and breakfast room would make a great spot for breakfast in good weather.
The ambassador naturally loves living in the house but is sadly leaving the post next month. He says while grand it is a comfortable and ideal home for a family. Successive ambassadors have carried on the tradition of the utmost care for the mansion and hopefully future residents will as well.
 Leaving the house at night was just as beautiful as arriving in the light.
 Join me later this week as I bring you inside for a tour of the principal rooms!
All photographs by myself.