House of the Week |Capitol Hill rowhouse for $539K

Although it looks innocuous, this Capitol Hill rowhouse was once the home base of a bootlegging operation that supplied members of Congress with hooch.

George L. Cassiday, a.k.a. the Man in the Green Hat, lived in this modest home during Pro­hibition. Unable to find work after World War I, the tank crew member supported his family by selling booze in the 1920s. Green Hat gin, a spirit sold by D.C. distillery New Columbia Distillers, is named in his honor.

Cassiday had no trouble finding customers on Capitol Hill. Business was so good that one congressman suggested he set up operations in the House Office Building. Although the police occasionally raided his home and confiscated the liquor, he didn’t run into problems until he was detained bringing bottles in his briefcase into the House Office Building.

Arrested wearing his signature green felt hat, Cassiday got his nickname, a nod to a popular novel about London socialites, Michael Arlen’s “The Green Hat.” Although barred from the House, he found plenty of customers in the Senate.

After Prohibition ended, Cassiday worked in a Pennsylvania shoe factory and then at several Washington hotels. He died in 1967.

Renovations to the 1924 home have done away with Cassiday’s likely hiding places for his alcoholic beverages. The first floor’s open floor plan lends itself to today’s living. The updated kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. There’s also a first floor powder room.

Both second floor bedrooms have en suite bathrooms. The master bedroom has skylights. A flagstone patio in the back is ideal for sitting and sipping your morning coffee.

Bootlegging isn’t this home’s only claim to fame. Scenes from the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise, were filmed in the neighborhood. The locals affectionately refer to the grass triangle that is kitty-cornered from the home as “Spielberg Park,” after the movie’s director, Steven Spielberg. The production company reportedly donated playground equipment to the park as compensation for the filming.

The two-bedroom, three-bathroom house is listed at $539,000.

Listing: 303 17th St. SE

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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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