House of the Week | Georgetown mansion for $16.8M

Some people won’t consider a historic home because, for all its character, it lacks modern amenities. Other people won’t consider a modern home because it lacks the warmth and charm of a historic house. And there are those who won’t consider living in the city because the lots are near the size of a postage stamp.

But imagine a home with period details, contemporary touches and an expansive outdoor space in the heart of Georgetown. This rare combination is brought together in the Williams-Addison house.

The Second Empire mansion was constructed between 1815 and 1817. It is one of the few remaining large estates in Georgetown and the only one with its original boundaries. For many years, it was known as the Friendly Estate because former Washington Post managing editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Al Friendly lived there with his family. The house remained in The Post family after the deaths of Friendly and his wife. Marc Teren, who was chief executive of The Washington Post Co.’s online subsidiary at the time, bought it and began renovating it.

His renovations met with vehement opposition from neighbors and preservationists who balked at his proposed changes. Teren abandoned the house in the middle of the work and it sat empty, a vacant shell for nearly six years.

Capital City Real Estate took possession of the house two years ago and began not only restoring but enhancing it. Because the home is a historic landmark, the developers had to adhere to strict guidelines. Much of the facade looks as it did in the 1800s — the diamond pattern walkway, the wrought-iron fence and the original brick. But as you approach the door, a small orb winks at you. It’s the closed-circuit TV, just one of the nods to the modern era.

As you step into the octagonal foyer, you feel transported by the period details — heavy crown molding, pocket doors, barrel ceilings and stained mahogany. But it’s what you don’t see that makes the difference. The draftiness that usually accompanies older homes is missing. Not only were new electrical features and plumbing installed, the insulation was beefed up to create a more energy-efficient house that is controlled by smart home technology.

“We wanted to create a balance between keeping the historical charm and adding modern features to the home,” said Victor Valentine, director of sales and marketing for Capital City.

Double parlors, a formal step-down dining room, a spacious great room and sun room make this home ideal for cocktails with friends, elegant dinner parties and holiday get-togethers. It also wouldn’t be a bad place to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. The third-floor landing offers a sweeping view of the D.C. skyline, including the Kennedy Center and Washington Monument.

The master suite takes over an entire wing of the house with its sitting room, his-and-her closets, a bathroom with a soaking tub and steam shower, and a bedroom that’s flooded with natural light from three sides. The fireplace, just like the other six in the home, is dual fuel, meaning it can be either gas or wood burning.

An elevator in the master suite can whisk you to the lower level where you’ll find a catering kitchen, wine cellar, large recreation room, home theater, fitness center and dry sauna.

Outdoors, the back yard is large enough to fit a tennis court — the Friendlys had one — or a swimming pool. There’s also a two-bedroom, three-bathroom carriage house with a full kitchen and two-car garage.

Across the street from Tudor Place, this estate is currently the most expensive home for sale in the District. It is listed at $16.8 million.

Listing: 1645 31st St. NW

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Twitter: @KathyOrtonWP, @postrealestate

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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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