House of the Week | Mass. Ave. Heights contemporary for $5.195M

This California contemporary in the Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington has attracted a who’s who of Washingtonians over the years as well as a few outside-the-Beltway celebrities.

The mid-century modern home was ahead of its time when it was built in 1939 for George Preston Marshall, the original owner of the Washington Redskins.

“It’s a very California-style home,” said current owner Debra Lee, chief executive and chairman of BET networks. “My understanding is that’s what George Preston Marshall wanted to do. He married a silent- screen star and she wanted a California-style home, so that’s why she hired Edward Durell Stone.”

Stone was one of the nation’s most sought-after architects. He designed the Kennedy Center and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His influence is evident throughout the home — the timeless wall of glass blocks in the sunroom, the 11-foot doors and large expanses of windows.

In 1990, another Washington Redskins owner, Jack Kent Cooke, bought the home.

“I did hear that one of the reasons he wanted to own it was because George Preston Marshall had once owned it,” Lee said.

Cooke called it “Marbella” and raised a kerfuffle when he converted an alley next to the home into a private driveway. Years later, auto tycoon Mandy Ourisman moved next door and reclaimed access rights to the alley, forcing Cooke to remove the gate so Ourisman could build a garage. Cooke retaliated by taking away the Redskins season tickets that had been in Ourisman’s family for 50 years.

Although no hints of the house’s Redskins past remain, Lee says the kitchen was painted burgundy and gold when Cooke called it home.

With its 11-foot ceilings and open layout, the house is ideal for entertaining. Presidents have dropped by — Ronald Reagan lunched here with a former owner; Bill Clinton attended a fundraiser for his wife that was thrown by Lee — and Lee hosted a party of 250 people for pop star Michael Jackson.

Renovations and additions over the years have updated the home and prevented it from feeling outdated. Heated bluestone floors in the main living areas carry through the contemporary feel. Glass doors that glide open reveal an outdoor space that backs into Rock Creek Park.

The modern kitchen is well-equipped to handle large parties or big family gatherings. It has a Thermador six-burner range, three wall ovens, a warming drawer, two Bosch dishwashers, a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer, and a wine cooler.

A spacious first-floor master suite is an oasis with dual dressing areas and a natural stone fireplace guarded on each side by large glass doors. Downstairs bedroom suites provide older children with their own living space.

“My kids really enjoyed growing up there,” Lee said.

Despite being minutes from the lively night life of Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle, mature trees surrounding the nearly one-acre property offer welcome seclusion. The heated pool has a Jacuzzi and waterfall.

The five-bedroom home, which first went on the market in October 2009 for $8.5 million, is now listed at $5.195 million. An open house is scheduled for June 2 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Listing: 2801 Rock Creek Dr. NW

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Do you have a home that deserves to be the House of the Week? Send an e-mail to mohana.ravindranath@washpost.com.

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.
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Kathy Orton · May 23, 2013