- The Washington Times - Friday, May 10, 2002

A historic eight-bedroom house, one of the oldest in Bethesda, is on the market for $1.285 million in "as is" condition. More than 100 years old, the architecture is classic, inside and out.

In a sought-after neighborhood west of Arlington Road, the house is a candidate for restoration by new owners "who love old houses and have the resources to restore" it, said Eldon Kaplan, whose parents bought the house in 1958. His mother, Megan Kaplan, owns it now.

The house was built in 1893 as a summer home by Samuel Wheatley, who was a "District Commissioner whose year-round residence was in Georgetown," and who "had a very successful lumber business in the city," according to the book, "Bethesda: A Social History."

"The 18-room, three-and-a-half story house, which occupies one of Bethesda's highest spots, originally stood on 18 acres of farmland," the book says.

Now it stands on a little more than half an acre. The remaining acreage has been developed into a residential neighborhood now known as Wheatley Hills.

The high land on which the house stands, coupled with the height of the house, provides a view from its roof of Washington's Independence Day fireworks on the Mall. On the roof is a widow's walk, reached from a solid staircase rising from the third floor. You can see the fireworks over the treetops, Mr. Kaplan said.

The house has a classic wraparound porch on three sides, and a large second-floor balcony for more conventional outdoor living.

Inside, the house has what the book describes as "a fine entrance hall and fancy mantels and very high ceilings in its formal first-floor rooms."

There are three fireplaces in the house in the living room, library and parlor although Mr. Kaplan said his family used only the one in the living room. There is an ornamental fireplace with a decorative mantel in the dining room.

Although the book on Bethesda history says the house was built in 1893, Mr. Kaplan and listing agent Andrew Greenspan of Long & Foster said land records show it was built in 1888. Mr. Greenspan is Mr. Kaplan's brother-in-law.

Mr. Kaplan said a two-story addition with the kitchen on the first floor and a bedroom suite on the second floor was built after the turn of the century but before 1920.

There are first-floor and second-floor windowed breezeways connecting the addition to the main house.

The house has a dramatic bannistered staircase winding from the entry hall to the third floor, with generous halls on the second and third floors. There also is a rear staircase to the second floor.

Off the entry hall is a cloakroom that doubles as a mudroom with a separate door to the yard. There are five doors from the main floor to the outdoors.

There is a powder room on the first floor, three full baths on the second floor and one full bath on the third floor.

Six bedrooms are on the second floor, and two are on the third floor.

The house has plaster walls and ceilings, many of which need restoration. "There are plaster issues," Mr. Kaplan acknowledged. "Quite a bit of work needs to be done."

There is a large unfinished basement with stone walls. It has two windows and steps leading to the yard through slanted cellar doors.

Among classic features of the house are a pair of pocket doors that close off the parlor from the entry hall, several transom windows, sidelights flanking the front door, built-in china cabinets and built-in bookshelves.

There is a large butler's pantry near the kitchen as well as a storage pantry.

On the property are tall shade trees, a southern magnolia, mature boxwoods, azaleas, flowering wisteria, hydrangeas and hostas, among other plants.

The neighborhood is within a mile or two of downtown Bethesda shops, restaurants and the Metro station but far enough away to be a secluded but sophisticated residential area. "It's quiet here," Mr. Kaplan said.

A hundred years, ago, however, the area was considered far out in the country. "Sometimes, the Wheatley's eight children protested against being 'buried alive' way out in the sticks," the book on Bethesda history says, but the Wheatley family enjoyed the house for many years, and Samuel Wheatley's widow made it their permanent home after he died.

Wheatley descendants lived in the house until 1944, although the farm had been subdivided in 1939.


Address: 7810 Moorland Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814

Community: Wheatley Hills

Age: Built 1888

Price: $1.285 million

Size: About 5,500 to 6,500 square feet on lot of more than half an acre (23,399 square feet)

Taxes: $6,150

Exterior features: Historic house with wrap-around porch, balcony, widow's walk, patio, gravel driveway

Interior features: Entry hall, cloak room, parlor, living and dining rooms, library, kitchen with table space and laundry area, butler's pantry, eight bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, unfinished basement, oil hot water and heat

Amenities: Original oak floors, original woodwork, front and rear staircases, transom windows, three fireplaces, pocket doors, built-in china cabinets, built-in bookshelves

Schools: Bethesda Elementary, Pyle Middle, Whitman High

Close by: One to two miles to shopping, restaurants and Metro in downtown Bethesda, 3 to 4 miles to the District line at Wisconsin Avenue

Open house: By appointment

Contact: Andrew Greenspan at Long & Foster, 301/215-6851 or 301/907-7600.

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