Lincoln Memorial

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Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty considers the importance of a very fine house with an impressive provenance in Georgetown, Washington DC.

In the heart of Georgetown, Washington DC, it is hard not to come across houses with illustrious and famous occupants – past and present.  John F Kennedy lived in one, Thomas Jefferson lived in another. John Kerry here, Bob Woodward, who with Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate story, there. The list is long.  But one house in particular seems to mark the passage of time and events with a list of owners quite like no other.

John Laird, a wealthy tobacco tycoon, built the Laird-Dunlop Coach House in 1799.  Since then it has been lived in by several notable owners including Helen Burgess, granddaughter of J P Morgan the financier; Arnold Sagalyn, one of Elliot Ness’s gangster-busting Untouchables.  It was also the home for a while of Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of Abraham Lincoln whose other home for some time had, of course, been 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC – otherwise known as the White House.

Robert’s father once asked, “Do you think we choose the times into which we are born? Or do we fit the times we are born into?”  In the case of this house the answer is very much the latter.  The elegant Georgian house, topped by a low-pitched roof with slatted cupola, is a lovely example of the period.  It fits the time when John Adams was President.  But it also fits the time of the current presidency as it has been beautifully renovated with sympathy for its origins but a mind for today. Some houses, like the White House, are built for greatness whilst others, like the Laird-Dunlop Coach House, have greatness thrust upon them through their owners.

Like fine art and antiques a good provenance is no bad thing for any house and this one has a provenance like few others.  In this part of the world the sales these very fine houses are invariably handled by Washington Fine Properties. They handled both ends of this transaction.  Eileen McGrath and Jamie Peva represented the seller, while Kimberly Casey and Daryl Judy represented the purchaser.  All were honored to represent a property with such significant history.

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