Inside, he took in the 35-foot-long center hall; the 12 fireplaces with marble and carved-wood mantels; the handsome, wide-plank black-walnut floors. He spotted two grand pianos: an Estonia in the drawing room, which has early 18th-century pine paneling that once graced an English estate; and a Steinway in the ballroom, which boasts wood and travertine marble floors and 17-foot ceilings.
He walked the paths through the terraced gardens, which cascade over almost an entire city block, along banks of azaleas and gnarled wisteria and towering magnolias. He took note of the quiet. “It was a really peaceful and dreamy spring day, and the place enshrouded me in an illusion — as if I had walked into another country, another time, another world,” he recalls. “I couldn’t believe that
just a few blocks away, there was a bustling city with traffic and noise. You could feel the history and nostalgia of times past.”
For two nights in May, Yanagitani, 33, stayed — alone — at the 12,000-square-foot mansion. He was there at the invitation of Ryuji Ueno and Sachiko Kuno, husband-and-wife biotech entrepreneurs who bought Evermay last yearand turned it into a guesthouse.
A $22 million guesthouse.
In a city that can’t quite decide whether power is money or money is power, two scientists, whose means and modesty are significant, can claim both.
The two Japan-born doctors are founders of Bethesda’s Sucampo Pharmaceuticals. Their research has led to breakthrough drugs, including those that treat such conditions such as glaucoma and chronic constipation.
Although they have been active in organizations such as the Washington National Opera and the Smithsonian Institution, and have their own foundation, they were pretty much under the radar in social Washington until they bought two of Georgetown’s most famous houses.
Their purchase of Evermay, ahuge Federal-style mansion on 3.5 acres, was one of the most expensive private home sales in Washington. Then, last November, the two successfully bid half Evermay’s price — $11 million — on 30,000-square-footHalcyon House, an even older Georgetown gem that dates to 1787, had original gardens designed by Pierre L’Enfant and hosted legendary social events. Both properties had been on the market for years, and their owners had taken to renting them out for parties and receptions to help pay the huge upkeep and taxes, a practice that dismayed their neighbors. Because parts of Evermay required upgrading, and the entire mansion needed to be furnished as soon as possible, the doctors would enlist Bethesda architect Jim Rill and Chevy Chase interior designer Jodi Macklin to gently bring the mansion into the 21st century.