- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

Eleven years ago, buying a property to renovate near 13th and Fairmont streets NW was considered extraordinary, if not a bit crazy. Few residents of the area believed that neighborhood of drug- and rat-infested streets would, a decade later, be the site of apartment, single-family-home and condominium renovations, bringing prosperity to an area with some of the District's most beautiful views.

The owners at 1300 Fairmont St. NW had the vision 11 years ago to purchase a Victorian mansion in deplorable condition, knowing they could transform the building into a warm and lovely family home. Built in 1895, this house had been divided into eight apartments, but it has been reconverted into a single-family home with about 5,200 finished square feet.

Now on the market for $925,000, this house rests on a corner lot behind a wrought-iron security gate, screened from view in spring and summer by a garden of low-maintenance 100-year-old roses and tall hedges. From 1990 to 1992, the owners lived in the house while painstakingly renovating it room by room, hiring the best contractors they could find to bring out the beauty of the original wood floors and paneled and plastered walls and to refinish the original claw-foot bathtubs.

Though the owners love the Victorian-style warmth of their home and its interestingly shaped rooms, they say they also wanted as much light as possible. Most of the rooms already had extremely tall windows that nearly reached the 9- and 13-foot-high ceilings. Then the owners added a skylight in the kitchen, stained-glass windows on interior walls to allow light to filter in from the exterior rooms, and a skylight so large it nearly replaces the entire ceiling of the master suite on the fourth level. Each tall window has a deep windowsill that can be used to display art or family photos or be left empty so admirers can enjoy the handsome wood trim.

Though restoring the beauty of the home was a priority, the owners also were prescient enough to prepare for future residents and built a closet in the hall on each level to accommodate an elevator. Future owners need only purchase an elevator kit to install one.

Beautiful double wooden doors lead into the vestibule entrance, which features leaded and stained-glass windows on all sides. The owner chose a floral motif for the stained glass because she loves to bring her garden inside. The original wood doors and moldings, including detailed wood trim around all the windows and interior doors, have been refurbished, and in those few places where the wood needed to be replaced, it has been matched meticulously to the original style.

One place where the owners chose to be particularly extravagant was the stairwell, which had disintegrated and needed to be replaced. Handsome oak stairs were installed on all four levels, and they blend well with the preserved paneled stairwells.

The main level features a charming octagonal living room with a deep bay window, a gas fireplace and lovely garden views. To the left of the foyer is an oversized dining room made for entertaining a crowd of close friends. A bay window adds plenty of light to this room, which is open to the kitchen for easy and comfortable entertaining.

The owners love to cook and share their home with friends and family. They chose the use of warm colors and travel mementos for their decorative style. A huge skylight brightens the kitchen, as does the warm-toned ceramic-tile flooring. The original kitchen cabinets have been refurbished, and most have glass fronts. The original wood columns that define the kitchen have been restored as well. Upgraded stainless-steel kitchen appliances will please even the most discerning cook. A powder room near the front door completes this level.

Just outside the kitchen is a redwood deck leading to the garden, where ponds and fountains add a gentle tone to the city's sounds. The owners say they love the neighborhood and have enjoyed watching its transformation in recent years, but they also have paid careful attention to providing security and complete privacy via gates and fences.

Inside, the second level features two hall closets, a stained-glass window that brings light into the hall, and two bedrooms, each with a full bath. Most of the bedrooms have two closets. Each bathroom has been fully renovated with a refurbished claw-foot bathtub, and most have two or three tall windows that fill the rooms with daylight. The bathrooms are so large that the owners have enjoyed adding furniture to them, such as a cabinet or a chair or sometimes interesting artwork. One bedroom on the second level has been furnished as a cozy sitting room that can be used for entertaining or for relaxing as a family. This whole level makes a wonderful guest suite, as well.

The third floor is fashioned similarly, with two additional bedrooms, each with a large full bath. The hall closets on this level have been converted to make a conveniently located laundry room. The front bedrooms on each level echo the octagonal shape of the living room, adding to their charms.

The fourth floor is devoted to the master suite, a space with plenty of charm and privacy. A huge skylight opens the ceiling over the stairs and the sitting area and fills this level with light. The bedroom itself is tucked underneath the turret, which the owners opened so that the ceiling is a tall cone. Deeply set windows bring light into the room, and their shapes are emphasized by the wood trim placed on the walls around them. A gas fireplace warms the room as well.

The adjacent sitting area includes a wet bar for refreshments, several closets and a private balcony for two with a fabulous view that includes the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Children's Hospital and other Washington buildings. The owners say they love to relax in their own private world on this balcony high above the street.

Nearby is access to a larger roof deck where friends can be entertained, and the view broadens further to include even more of the city. Adjacent to the roof deck is the master bath, which features at its center a deep whirlpool tub nearly surrounded by windows. A large sauna sits at one end of the room and a glass-enclosed shower at the other. A double-sink vanity is along one wall.

The lower level, as in many Victorian-era homes, has been divided into two sections. One basement, accessible only from the exterior of the house, provides excellent storage and includes a separated area for gardening equipment. The second basement has been finished and includes a large room to be used as a recreation or exercise area. A full bath is adjacent to this space. Nearby is a serene private home office with built-in shelving.

An exterior door to this office is closed off, but it could be reopened by future owners. Outside of the door is a parking area that is partially covered by the house and can accommodate three cars. Parking for more cars can be created within the gated property by eliminating some of the garden beds.

The renovation of this Victorian residence has been a labor of love for the owners, who say they are proud of their vision in returning the building to its proper beauty. They say they also are grateful to their contractors, their architect and their interior designer, all of whom showed the same dedication to the project as they did. Future owners need only enjoy the benefits of the expertise of the current owners.


Address: 1300 Fairmont St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

Community: Columbia Heights

Age: Built 1895, renovated 1990-92

Price: $925,000

Size: About 5,200 finished square feet on lot of 4,218 square feet

Taxes: $1,984 in 2001

Exterior features: All-brick Victorian-style four-level home; wrought-iron security gates attached to brick wall surrounding property; parking within gates for three cars.

Interior features: Five bedrooms; 6 1/2 baths; original hardwood flooring, paneling and trim; stained-glass windows at front door and hallways; bay-windowed dining room; renovated kitchen with original wood-and-glass cabinets and upgraded appliances; octagonal living room with gas fireplace; private bath for each bedroom; top-level master suite with turreted bedroom, sitting area, private balcony and access to roof deck, plus a bath with a sauna, whirlpool and separate shower; partially finished lower level with recreation or exercise room, full bath and home office.

Amenities: Beautifully landscaped garden with roses, ponds, hedges and shrubs for privacy, two gas fireplaces, zoned central air conditioning and heating and additional radiator heat adjustable on each level.

Close by: Minutes from Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, two Metro stations, downtown and Capitol Hill.

Open house: By appointment

Contact: Realtor E. Omar Kashif of Murrell Inc. Realtors at 202/726-1100, Ext. 310.

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