Realizing the potential of the unusual property, however, was not an easy process for the homeowners. After about five years of fits and starts, they settled on the addition’s design and secured the required approvals from the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board for the construction permit.
Like many buyers attracted to fixer-uppers, the couple managed to snag the house in 2000 for a great price, $200,000, but soon discovered widespread problems.
“The bathtub was falling through the floor, the kitchen had no refrigerator, the plaster walls were crumbling and the bedroom was cut into two,” recalled Ferranto, a landscape architect who runs her business from home.
So before moving in, the homeowners undertook some basic remodeling to improve the interiors. They started by upgrading the bathroom, reinforcing the floors and replacing the tub with a shower stall. Welsh did most of the work, installing the sink, faucets, toilet and black-and-white tile.
In the kitchen, the couple replaced an oven with a small refrigerator, and they demolished an internal wall in the bedroom to enlarge the space.
“We made all the plaster repairs on the walls ourselves, repaired broken window panes and painted the entire interior of the house,” Welsh said.
From those renovations, the homeowners eventually built a wing at the rear. It took three designs and a lot of patience on their part to win over the city’s exacting preservation review boards.
The couple’s first step in adding on was to ask an architect friend to develop a solution, only to be disappointed with his idea.
“We rejected his conceptual design on its face and decided it was not worth following up,” Welsh said. “He took a contemporary approach, which was not in keeping with the house or neighborhood.”
About a year later, the homeowners turned to another architect and presented her proposal to the Cleveland Park Historical Society’s Architectural Review Committee.
The group rejected the design.
“The facade was too contemporary and heavy,” Welsh recalled. The review committee, he said, “noted the improper use of stone.”
“As a result, we moved ahead slowly,” Ferranto said. “We abandoned the project for two years.”
The homeowners eventually went looking for a new architect to develop a design more respectful of their little “temple.” They turned to District firm Treacy & Eagleburger Architects, based on its experience renovating and expanding historic houses in the neighborhood.
Architects Jane Treacy and Phil Eagleburger are married and live and work in Cleveland Park. Eagleburger has been a member of the neighborhood’s architectural review committee for about a dozen years. His design of the Ferranto/Welsh addition was approved in 2005 by the committee (Eagleburger recused himself from the proceedings), the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board.