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Pierce Hall restores lifestyle out of history
Question of the Day
The historic value of Pierce Hall depends on your point of view. For some, the most fascinating tidbits of Pierce Hall history came during the 1950s, when the property belonged to Sherman Adams, President Eisenhower’s chief of staff, and was visited by a bold-name guest list that includes Sir Winston Churchill.
Others are more intrigued by the property’s earliest days, when it functioned as a distillery of peach brandy.
Pierce Hall, built in 1796 as part of the property belonging to Isaac Pierce, is located at 2400 Tilden St. NW, across the street from Rock Creek Park. Other structures in the original Pierce estate include Pierce Mill, now part of Rock Creek Park, and an old stone spring house, restored and maintained by the District of Columbia government, which sits in the median strip of Tilden Street.
Now on the market for $1,695,000, the historic fieldstone Pierce Hall sits on about a quarter-acre of land with gardens and a brick patio. While the historic elements and essential design of the home provide a significant attraction, this unique home will require restoration and transformation to meet the requirements of today’s buyers.
The post-and-beam-style construction sets the tone for this historic structure, which includes stone interior walls, beamed ceilings, the original random-width oak hardwood flooring, antique hardware on the doors and closets and four wood-burning fireplaces, each seemingly larger than the last.
The great-room fireplace features a rustic wood mantel that was constructed from wood beams that were part of the old Capitol building burned by the British in 1814. The wood had been found preserved as a breakwater in a Virginia stream and was given to the Kerr family in 1924 as they remodeled the distillery into a residence.
The massive dining room fireplace, a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace formerly used for cooking, features a hearth stone given to the Kerr family that includes dinosaur footprints embedded in the surface.
The Pierce Hall property has been remodeled and expanded over time and now includes a four-car garage in addition to extensive gardens and private patios, including one with a small swimming pool. The main entrance to the home today faces Tilden Street, but at one time the front door faced Rock Creek Park.
Stepping into the foyer feels like stepping back a century or more in time. The paneled walls and tall casement windows are accented with crown moldings, while the original random-width oak-plank flooring is underfoot. The foyer has high ceilings, a walk-in guest closet and a powder room with a marble counter and a casement window.
A few steps down from the foyer is the expansive great room, which has 10-foot-high wood-beamed ceilings, fieldstone walls, extensive casement windows on two sides of the room and floor-to-ceiling French doors leading to a stone patio and rear yard.
Another French door leads to the side garden. The focal point for the great room is the dramatically large fieldstone fireplace with the historic wood-beamed mantel.
A sunroom adjoins the great room and features a brick paving stone floor, a vaulted and beamed ceiling and three walls of casement windows facing the gardens.
The main-level library has paneled walls with built-in bookcases and cabinets, a beamed ceiling, two sets of casement windows and a corner fireplace with a custom-milled mantel.
The formal dining room once served as the kitchen and features the wall-sized fireplace, which was the primary cooking space in the home’s earliest days. The dining room features wood paneled walls, a wood paneled cathedral ceiling, casement windows facing the garden and a brass chandelier.
A hall links the dining room with the newer kitchen, a generously sized room with a 9-foot-high ceiling, wood cabinets, a stainless steel gas cooktop with a built-in cutting board, a wall oven, a tabletop microwave, a dishwasher, recessed lighting and a wall of casement windows. Ceramic brick-shaped tiles cover the floor in the kitchen and the adjacent breakfast room.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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