House of the Week | Georgetown mansion for $11M

President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy attended a wedding reception at this Georgetown mansion. Lyndon B. Johnson stopped by the house when he was vice president. President Bill Clinton dined here. The prince and princess of Liechtenstein and a former king of Greece also visited.

They were some of the notable guests who called on the late senator Claiborne Pell and his wife, Nuala, during their 43 years in the home, considered one of the finest of the few surviving large, free-standing late Georgian houses in Georgetown.

The six-term Rhode Island senator, who was best known for the Pell Grant program, bought the 1789 Flemish bond brick mansion in May 1961 from British socialites Willmott and Norma Bowler Lewis. A year later, at a wedding reception the Pells hosted for Angier Biddle Duke, then chief of protocol for the State Department, and Robin Chandler Lynn, the Kennedys joined in celebrating the newlyweds.

Even before the Pells moved in, the home had history. John Thomson Mason, a nephew of George Mason of Gunston Hall and an attorney whose correspondence with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson is housed in the Library of Congress, was the home’s original owner.

In 1810, physician Charles Worthington bought the home to use as a hospital to treat wounded British soldiers during the War of 1812. He named the home Quality Hill.

Albert Adsit Clemens, a nephew of Mark Twain, owned it from 1915 to 1944. Clemens, who also owned Halcyon House on the same block, used Quality Hill as a storage facility for his many treasures.

The current owners bought the home from the Pells in 2004. Although they extensively renovated it, they were careful to maintain the period details, such as the intricate crown molding in the living room. They preserved much of the original pine flooring by turning it over and finishing it. The flooring they couldn’t save was replaced with flooring from John Hopkins home in Baltimore.

The graceful fanlight that once was part of the vestibule was moved to the end of the grand entrance hall, past the archway that came from the Francis Scott Key house on M Street. Every room on the first floor has a fireplace and each has its original mantel. The house has eight fireplaces in all.

The library bookcases were modeled after those at Mount Vernon and include a wooden ladder for reaching the top shelves.

The south-facing home receives an abundance of natural light through its many windows. The 14-foot ceilings also make the home airy and bright.

The nine-bedroom, 11-bathroom home, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is listed at $11 million.

Listing: 3425 Prospect St. NW

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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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