On Capitol Hill, a historical building offers modern living

August 22

Audrey: 202-302-0431; audrey@ahoffer.net

Quiet, leafy, residential Capitol Hill lies in the shadow of the monumental Beaux-Arts Union Station. Grid-like streets are lined with colorful rowhouses interspersed with low-rise apartments, schools and churches.

The James B. Edmonds School on the corner of Ninth and D streets NE is one of the neighborhood’s classic Colonial Revival schools of the early 1900s. Children once poured out of the wide double doors. Today it’s the new home for more than a dozen families in an array of condominium units, the result of a complete restoration and repurposing.

The red brick is repointed and the newly painted white trim shines. Oversize windows that once cast light onto little desks now brighten living space.

“We have seven big windows and a lot of light,” said Tom Brock, who, with Willis Sawyer, was among the first residents to move there in mid-June. They came from DuPont Circle.

Jane Gasda and her husband, David, bought a corner unit and have eight windows “that go up to shoulder height,” she said. They downsized from a 4,200-square-foot house in Fredericksburg, but “this reminds me of a house because it’s so light,” she added. Even kitchens have a large window.

“All the windows open,” Brock said.


The view from the kitchen to the living area in Unit 205 at the Edmonds School. No two units are the same. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

Blending old and new: “This project was a labor of love,” said C. Adam Stifel, principal and founder of CAS Riegler, one of the developers. The other is Ditto Residential.

The design process was challenging and historical preservation played a huge role. “The purview of local preservationists wasn’t just ensuring that integrity of the facade was maintained; it also extended to some structural aspects in the interior,” he said.

Consequently, many interior structural walls were preserved, and that guided unit layouts. “In the end, this really added to the architectural interest of each unit. There is nothing cookie cutter about this project. There are literally no two units the same,” Stifel said.

“We like the uniqueness. The combination of the old and new really appealed to us. It’s a historic building totally preserved on the outside, but all the interiors are new,” Brock said.

Timur Loynab, sales director for McWilliams Ballard, the company selling the units, said, “Buyers love the marriage between the old and new — the charm and character of a historic property coupled with the conveniences of new construction.”

Loynab added that the development is a finalist for the National Association of Homebuilders best garden/small-scale condo community award, which will be announced in October.


The view from the living room through an original archway to the kitchen and staircase in Unit 207. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

Exposed brick and steel: Stifel aimed to create homes stylistically suited to historic Capitol Hill in the traditional sense but likewise make them “lofty and contemporary.” For example, crown moldings, exposed structural elements like steel and brick are mixed with clean modern finishes and high-end appliances.

So you can lie in the bedroom and look at rough, old wood beams in the loft ceiling and then get up to shower in a tiled bathroom with marble accents over the threshold and Waterworks faucets.

Master bathrooms are spacious with double vanity sinks. “In our research, we found that current homeowners felt shortchanged in two areas of the home — in bathrooms and kitchens — so we put special attention to those two areas trying to make them as functional and spacious as possible,” Loynab said.

Entry halls are spacious with room for a table, coat stand and wall mirror.

A separate kitchen has a large window, and the refrigerator is cabinet depth, forming one continuous clean line with the counter. Cabinets are plentiful. “We wanted to do something in the kitchens with oak cabinets and silestone counters,” Loynab said. “We wanted to stay away from granite counters that are now commonplace everywhere.”

Classic baseboard molding is substantial, about eight inches high. Nest learning thermostats will get to know your temperature habits and enable cost savings.

Abundant exposed brick throughout the units, oversized doors and extraordinary 13-foot ceiling heights span lower level loft units. “I’m 6-feet-5-inches,” Brock said, “so it’s nice to be in a place where I don’t feel the ceiling tickling my forehead.”

What’s nearby: The Gasdas shop at Eastern Market on Seventh Street SE for much of their fresh food. Fruits, vegetables, meat and fish are in good supply, and on weekends delicious brunch food is offered. Giant is located at 300 H St. NE, and Harris Teeter is at 1350 Potomac Ave. SE. Jacob’s Coffee House is just a block away from the condos.

The H Street NE corridor is packed with restaurants and bars that spill onto sidewalks at night; the Atlas Performing Arts Center hosts contemporary music, theater, dance and film, and independent shops are in abundance.

“Capitol Hill is neighborhoodly. People seem rooted here. And there’s a very nice mix of people,” Brock said.


The master bedroom in Unit 207 at the Edmonds School (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

Living there: Twenty condo units were built, 17 sold, three are on the market.

Schools: Peabody, Maury and Ludlow-Taylor elementary; Stuart-Hobson Middle; Eastern Senior High.

Transit: The condominium building is in a highly walkable urban residential neighborhood. “We downsized from two to one car when we moved here,” David Gasda said.

“We try to walk to everything or ride our bikes,” Jane Gasda added.

The building sits between the Maryland Avenue NE and C Street NE thoroughfares. It’s quick and easy to reach the Southeast Freeway (Interstate 395). Union Station on the Red line has 23 bike racks, and Eastern Market on the Blue and Orange lines has 20 bike lockers. It is a 15-minute walk to both Metro stations.

Audrey Hoffer is a freelance writer.

Edmonds School

901 D St. NE, Washington

Condominiums range in price from $389,900 to $1.049 million.

Builders: CAS Riegler and Ditto Residential

Features: The units have very high ceilings, oversized windows, exposed original brick walls and structural beams, Bosch kitchen appliances, bathroom Waterworks plumbing fixtures and Maytag stacked washer-dryer behind a closet door. A limited number of parking spots are available for purchase. The building has an elevator.

Bedrooms/bathrooms: 1 to 2/2.5

Square footage: 628 to 1,795

Homeowners association fees: $202 to $477

View models: By appointment daily; 2 to 4 p.m. weekends

Sales: Timur Loynab, 202-350-2797 or www.edmondsdc.com

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