- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2009

The Washington area has an undeserved reputation for being populated only with traditional-style homes. While there is an abundance of brick, Colonial-style residences throughout the area, the city and its surrounding suburbs also have some adventurous contemporary-style homes. Some of the most unusual homes were former schools or warehouses. Many of them retain an unassuming facade that belies the interior drama.

One of the more creative reuses of space in the area involves turning the former chapel of Washington’s oldest parish school into Bishops Gate condominiums. The building is located at 1715 15th St. NW, between R and S streets. The spectacular No. 5 unit, now on the market for $1,295,000, includes 30- to 45-foot-high vaulted ceilings and an array of leaded- and stained-glass windows and marble wainscoting. A parking space comes included with the price of the home.

The St. Augustine Parochial School, a rectory and a convent were built at 1715 15th St. NW in 1929, and the foundation for the new cathedral was laid, but the church was never completed. Instead, the St. Augustine parish merged with a nearby Catholic parish, St. Paul, which had dwindled in membership over time.

The St. Augustine property on 15th Street was sold in 1979 and renovated into Bishops Gate, a gated community of about 60 condominiums of varying sizes and layouts. The foundation for the church is now part of the parking garage at the development.

The No. 5 unit at Bishops Gate offers a unique floor plan with two bedrooms, two baths and three finished levels. The former chapel’s choir loft occupies the upper floor, which has about one third the floor space of the other two levels. A spiral staircase winds past the arched stained glass windows to this loft.

Homeowners have added their own special touches to the property. The master bath was renovated into a spa-like space with a soaking tub and separate shower. The kitchen was also renovated and opens into the living room with a breakfast bar.

In addition to the spiral staircase leading to the loft, a second spiral staircase leads from the lower-level master suite to the main level. In addition to the kitchen and combined living and dining area, the main level has a second bedroom and a second full bath. The former apse of the chapel, with its 45-foot-high ceiling, is now the main living area for this home.

Not only will residents of Bishops Gate enjoy the unique experience of living in a former chapel, but they can also enjoy living in one of Washington’s most sought-after neighborhoods. Residents can walk to the Dupont Circle Metro station, shops and restaurants in Dupont Circle and along 17th Street. A Whole Foods store is a few blocks away, along with shops, restaurants and theaters on 14th Street. This location offers an ideal urban lifestyle, with the city’s amenities just outside the front door.

For more information or an appointment to visit Bishops Gate, contact associate broker Michael Schaeffer of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage at 202/387-6180.

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