Walking down bustling Connecticut Avenue, it’s easy to forget that Northwest Washington’s Dupont Circle is a residential neighborhood as well as a lively and historic strip of galleries, restaurants, offices and shops. Locals cherish that variety.
The neighborhood fans out from its namesake circle, where Connecticut and Massachusetts avenues meet. Rental and condominium buildings and single-family homes line the streets. People picnic and play chess in the circle’s park, and Dupont hosts many traditions. Its Sunday farmers market is one of the area’s largest, and Capital Pride, the celebration of the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, takes place in the neighborhood each June. Every fall, the Dupont Circle Citizens Association holds a house tour and tea.
(Gene Thorp/The Washington Post) - Dupont Circle
Resident Ruth Horn says the diversity of Dupont Circle’s architecture suits the history buff in her. In 2009, she was shopping for a condominium in Georgetown, but a home in Dupont caught her eye. She owns a triangular yellow house with a brilliant-green tile mansard roof pierced by a turret, two projecting bays and ornately carved gutters. “My business partner describes it as a children’s playhouse on a Russian estate,” she said. “I like things that are profoundly unusual.”
Horn attributes the design heterogeneity of her neighborhood to its early residents. “Newly rich Gold Rush types decided they wanted to buy up all this land,” she said. “The result of that is we have half a dozen different styles of architecture in Dupont, from Italianate to quasi-Oriental, and it all can be very outlandish. They were not constrained by old-money standards like the people in Georgetown were, and the result is we have a splendidly beautiful neighborhood.”
Evan Johnson is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. He sells many properties in Dupont and agrees that the neighborhood “definitely has a unique feel to it. I think that is kind of the best part. It’s extremely close in to many places of employment, where Logan Circle, just to the east side, is definitely a lot more residential, even though it has some restaurants. Dupont Circle has more older buildings with a lot more character, and then the newer properties are just infill and renovations.”
Dupont has represented different things during different periods, Johnson says.
“Dupont historically has been more of a hub for the LGBT community, which I don’t think it is that focused on anymore. It’s really an extremely diverse community,” he said. “There are definitely younger families that are moving in, but it’s also very populated with single-income homeowners.”
Lee Granados represents a small group in often-transient Washington: She grew up in Dupont Circle and has returned to raise her family here. Her family has lived in the neighborhood since the 1930s, she says. Most of them started as immigrants working for the embassies or the very wealthy who lived in Dupont. She says that many of the owners of mom-and-pop shops got their start working as chauffeurs or housekeepers.