- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2001

When Carlos Fernandez walked into a decrepit-yet-venerable old residence in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Washington, he didn't look first at the peeling paint, the water stains on the ceiling or the debris trickling down from a hole in the wall.
Instead, Mr. Fernandez noticed the architectural integrity of the house's structure, the archways and delicate moldings along the ceiling, and the condition of the oak floors and original windows with their diagonally placed panes.
He envisioned transforming this property into a handsomely refurbished home with all the modern amenities blended with a reverence for the past.
One of Mr. Fernandez' current projects, along with his company, Chase Builders, is the renovation of this Tudor-style gem within walking distance of Chevy Chase Circle in Northwest Washington.
This residence at 5637 Western Ave. NW is undergoing extensive renovations and will be priced at $1.25 million. The remodeling is expected to be completed in May, but those who buy the property before that date will have the enviable ability to customize the renovations and to watch the transformation of the building.
Peeling paint may now mar the front door of this house, but the solid wood and the art-deco style arch of the doorway still offer a glimpse of the home's underlying beauty.
A distinctive coat of arms is carved in the concrete over the front door and a second matching coat of arms is carved over the entrance to the screened front porch. A new walkway of flagstone or concrete is planned for the entrance to the house, and the porch will be renovated with a new paneled wood ceiling and new flooring.
Five huge art deco-style arches that match the shape of the front door and form three sides of the porch will be fitted with new screens.
The rear of the house has about 10,000 square feet of level space for a garden, a patio and a parking pad for two cars, which is now being created. The home includes a brick detached two-car garage as well, a desirable amenity for a city property.
This house, built circa 1927, obviously was designed as an elegant location for entertaining, perhaps mostly on the weekends and in the summer, as this neighborhood was considered the "summer retreat" for Washington's elite. This Tudor mansion was placed high above street level, with large windows on all four sides that catch the breezes and allow for sunlight all year unobstructed by the neighboring homes.
Inside, the original architect designed a large foyer with plenty of space for greeting guests and escaping the heat or cold outside. After passing through the foyer, visitors would turn to the right for a glimpse of the imposing yet graceful lines of the main hallway, a handsome oak staircase, and archways connecting the foyer and the hall and the hall and the kitchen wing. On either side of the main hall are wide openings offering a glimpse of the living room and dining room.
It is this view that captured the eyes of Mr. Fernandez and his colleagues, who realized that the elaborate moldings along the archways, baseboards and ceiling are worth saving, along with the hardwood flooring, which is in excellent condition.
Most rooms in the house and closets have solid wood paneled doors with glass knobs that are hard to come by these days.
The formal living room includes a working fireplace with a detailed wood mantel above, a tray ceiling, wall sconces that will be polished and repaired, and corner cabinets on either side of the fireplace with glass doors. Above the corner cabinets are casement windows with diagonally placed panes. Two glass doors currently connect the living room with the screened porch, and probably will be replaced with French doors.
Across the hall, the dining room features an art deco-style cut-glass chandelier, a tray ceiling, and three sets of double-hung windows along one wall. The rear wall has two more huge windows that overlook the garden. This entire level has 9 1/2-foot ceilings that add to the sense of space in the oversized rooms.
Currently, the dining room is attached to a butler's pantry that leads to a large kitchen. Adjacent to the kitchen is a large laundry room/ pantry. This entire area will be gutted to create a larger kitchen and a breakfast room with French doors leading to a flagstone or brick patio. Underneath the cracked linoleum currently covering the kitchen floor is hardwood flooring, which will be exposed and restored. A triple window over the kitchen sink overlooks the back garden and will be saved during the renovation, along with a glass door and a charming side porch off the kitchen. Nearby is a powder room that will be gutted and replaced with new fixtures in an old-fashioned style to blend with the rest of the home.
On the landing of the staircase leading to the second level are three tall casement windows with transom windows above, each of which includes stained glass. The second level has four huge bedrooms and two full baths, along with two linen closets.
The master bedroom suite at the front of the home features a huge balcony over the screened porch below, and the builder will be adding a French door for access to this private balcony. On one end of this room is a deep arched niche containing two closets, lighted by a huge window with diagonally placed panes. On the opposite side of the room are an additional walk-in closet and the private bath, which will be completely renovated with a whirlpool tub and a separate shower.
The other three bedrooms are also large, and all the rooms have at least 9-foot ceilings. Crown moldings and tall baseboards add elegance to all the rooms, along with their solid wood doors and glass knobs.
The third level of the home also has been finished, covering the entire floor area of the house. The main room is about 33 feet in length, with a peaked ceiling and four large windows with diagonally placed panes.
Plumbing is in place for a full bath at one end of this open room, which can be left as a large family room or divided into smaller spaces for bedrooms or a study. The smaller room at the front of the home has a large window overlooking the front yard and a tall peaked ceiling. This room could be used for a study or a guest bedroom or as a playroom.
The lower level is solidly built and features several high windows along with a private side entrance. Mr. Fernandez will gut this level and create a large recreation room, another full bath, a laundry room and an exercise room.
Along with renovating the rooms in this home, Chase Builders will be adding two-zone heating and air conditioning, removing the existing radiators, and renovating all the plumbing and electrical systems.
Imagining the finished product of this Tudor home is easy, particularly on a sunny day when light glints on the as yet unpolished wood floors, highlights the detailed moldings, and shines through the stained glass onto the staircase.


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