An old English proverb says that a man’s house is his castle, and in this case, a castle gatehouse in Chevy Chase, Md., can be a home.
Daisy Calhoun, the woman behind the original castle, was born into privilege, married well and was a society doyenne, entertaining presidents – Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson – and the Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor).
Calhoun also designed houses, a total of three, one for each of her marriages. With her first husband, Andrew Simonds, she built a house in Charleston, S.C., that she turned into a luxury hotel after his death.
Her second house was a mansion called Rosedale on 57 acres near Princeton, N.J. Following the death of her second husband, Barker Gummere Jr., it became a girls’ school.
In 1926, Daisy and her third husband, Washington lawyer Clarence Calhoun, erected a 30-room Scottish castle on 100 acres of woodland in Chevy Chase. The home was a nod to the Calhoun clan’s ancestral estate on the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland.
In addition, the Calhouns built a gatehouse next to a large pond they christened Wee Loch Lomond. Daisy dubbed the gatehouse Braemar Lodge and the land Braemar Forest in honor of her Scottish ancestry.
The Calhouns didn’t live in the castle long. Their fortune took a turn for the worse after the 1929 stock market crash, and they converted the castle into a nightclub. Daisy, penniless, moved into the gatehouse after her husband’s death in 1938. She died in 1949, and in 1957, the castle was torn down.
The turreted gatehouse with its two crenellated towers, one square and one round, and Tudor arch survives to this day. Now called Rossdhu Gate, the L-shaped house has undergone changes over the years but still maintains its medieval character.
The French doors in the flagstone and slate foyer open to a paved courtyard with two stone fountains built by the current owner’s father. A library, sitting area and guest suite can be found on the first floor.
The centerpiece of the spiral staircase that stretches four floors is a crystal chandelier. The main living areas are on the second floor. Legend has it that the keystone in the stone fireplace in the living room is from the original castle of Scotland’s Robert the Bruce.
An antique baccarat crystal chandelier and ceiling medallion grace the dining room. A stained-glass window in a fleur-de-lis pattern complements the hand-engraved cabinets in the kitchen. Two master bedroom suites are on the third floor.
The three-bedroom, four-bathroom home has been featured in several magazines, including Old House Interiors. To learn more about the property, go to www.rossdhugate.com. It is listed at $1.5 million.
Listing: 3207 Woodbine St., Chevy Chase
Previous House of the Week
Like us on Facebook