- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

Neighbors’ fondest memories of the elegant brick Georgian-style Colonial home on the corner of Upshur and 16th streets NW always include the sound of music drifting through the windows. On spring, summer and fall evenings, it was a pleasure for many of them to return home to the resonance of singers practicing during their voice lessons with the owner.

For more than 40 years, the Crestwood neighborhood residence at 1600 Upshur St. NW was home to Gladys and Todd Duncan. Mr. Duncan played the original Porgy in the George Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess.”

Associate Broker Helen Dodson of Long & Foster Real Estate says Mr. Duncan performed as Porgy more than 1,800 times in 1930s and 1940s productions of the play. He was the first black performer to become a member of the New York City Opera and was instrumental in desegregating theaters in Washington because of his stance against singing for racially separate audiences.

Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, married for 54 years, moved into their Crestwood home in 1958. Mrs. Duncan was a civil rights and local political activist, serving as a delegate to the Democratic presidential nominating conventions in 1956, 1960 and 1964. Mr. Duncan continued his singing career, taught at Howard University and taught private voice lessons in the studio in their home. Mr. Duncan died in 1998, and Mrs. Duncan died less than three months ago at age 108.

Now the gracious Duncan home has been placed on the market for $1,450,000. With four finished levels and about 4,000 square feet of living space, this corner property offers an elegant home and the potential for a home office or studio.

The main entrance of the home on Upshur Street leads into the residence, and a separate entrance on 16th Street leads into the lower-level studio, which is also accessible from the house. The property also includes an attached two-car garage and two vacant lots, which provide additional garden space and privacy for the home. Azaleas and garden beds add to the grace of this home.

Guests can be welcomed in the wide center entry hall, which, like the rest of the three upper levels of the home, has recently refinished hardwood flooring and high ceilings with crown moldings. Along one side of the hall, a wood staircase gently curves to the upper level and is lined with a wrought-iron railing, and a crystal chandelier adds elegance to the space. A tiled powder room is near the front door.

To the left of the hall is the formal living room, a generously sized room with a crystal chandelier and a fireplace with a marble mantel surrounded by mirrors. The living room is rounded at one end; niches with shelves are built into two corners for displaying art or treasured photographs. Multiple windows facing 16th Street and Upshur Street fill this room with light.

A sliding glass door leads from the living room to the Florida room, an indoor-outdoor space with sliding glass doors on three sides and a glass door leading to a side entrance to the home. A flagstone walkway leads to the garden and to the 16th Street entrance to the studio.

One set of sliding glass doors connects the Florida room to the dining room, which has a crystal chandelier and two windows framing a view of the garden.

Just beyond the dining room is a short hall leading to the kitchen and the separate breakfast room. A side door between the two rooms links the home with the garage. The kitchen has windows on two sides of the room with garden views and includes upgraded appliances such as a double wall oven and a Sub-Zero refrigerator.

The breakfast room has windows on three sides and wainscoting on the walls, and it could function as a family room, computer room or playroom for owners who are content with one dining area.

The second level of the home includes the master bedroom, which has sliding glass doors opening onto a large balcony above the Florida room. Wrought-iron railings surround the balcony, which has views of the surrounding gardens. The master suite has three windows across the front of the room facing 16th Street and two additional windows facing Upshur Street, plus a private full bath and two closets. Additional closets are off the hall.

Two additional bedrooms on this level share an adjoining full bath. The first bedroom has multiple windows and an archway leading to the walk-in closet and bath entrance. The second bedroom has a walk-in closet and sliding glass doors leading to the balcony off the master suite.

The fourth floor of the Duncan home, reached by wood stairs, has been finished with a charming bedroom including a sloping ceiling and several closets, including under-eaves storage. The upper level includes a full bath and a storage closet in the hall.

The finished lower level, covered with new Berber carpeting and new ceramic-tile flooring in the storage rooms, includes two large rooms that can function as an office/studio or as casual living space. The main room includes multiple windows and the entrance to 16th Street, while the adjacent space, nearly equally large, includes a mirrored wall and built-in shelves and cabinets.

Close to the stairs to the main level of the home are a full bath, a wine cellar and a hall lined with storage cabinets and shelves. Around the corner are a large utility and storage room and a laundry room with additional storage space.

With its full bath, separate entrance and multiple rooms, the lower level could easily be converted to an in-law or au pair suite, if desired.

However the multiple rooms in the Duncan home are used, buyers will surely feel that they own a landmark property significant for its elegance and its former owners.

More info:

Address: 1600 Upshur St. NW, Washington, DC 20011

Community: Crestwood

Age: Built in 1939

Price: $1,450,000

Size: About 4,000 finished square feet on lot of 11,505 square feet

Taxes: $7,101 in 2004

Exterior features: Georgian Colonial-style brick home on corner lot with two adjacent vacant lots included, flagstone walkway and steps, slate roof, garden beds and multiple azaleas, two-car attached garage

Interior features: Four bedrooms; four full baths; one powder room; one fireplace; hardwood flooring; crown moldings; large front hall/foyer; formal living room with marble mantel over fireplace and multiple windows, plus sliding glass door to Florida room with sliding glass doors on three sides and door to garden; formal dining room with access to Florida room; kitchen with Sub-Zero refrigerator, double wall ovens and adjacent breakfast room with windows on three sides; second level with master suite including sliding glass door to balcony and private master bath; two additional bedrooms with an adjoining full bath; finished upper level with fourth bedroom and third bath; finished lower level with wine cellar, laundry and storage rooms, fourth full bath.

Amenities: Finished lower-level home office/studio with separate walk-out entrance from 16th Street, built-in shelving; upper-level balcony accessible from master suite and second bedroom; three crystal chandeliers; high ceilings; radiator/oil-fueled heat; security system.

Close by: Rock Creek Park; easy access to downtown Washington and to the Beltway.

Open house: June 5, 1 to 4 p.m.

Contact: Associate Broker Helen Dodson of Long & Foster Real Estate, 202/243-2955

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