From P St. Salon to a Candidate's Makeover

John Edwards is asking $2.7 million more than he paid for his Georgetown home in 2002.
John Edwards is asking $2.7 million more than he paid for his Georgetown home in 2002. (By James A. Parcell -- The Washington Post)

By Daniela Deane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 7, 2005

Former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards (D-N.C.) and his family are returning home to North Carolina this summer after the children wrap up school and wife Elizabeth completes breast cancer treatment.

The Edwardses put their detached yellow brick Georgetown home on P Street on the market last week for $6.5 million. The Federal-style four-story house, built in 1830, is listed with real estate brokerage Washington Fine Properties, although there's no sign out front.

The Edwardses bought the house in December 2002 for $3.8 million from the estate of famed Washington hostess Polly Wisner Fritchey. Fritchey, who raised her children in the house, was first married to spymaster and deputy CIA director Frank Wisner, who died in 1965, and then to syndicated columnist Clayton Fritchey.

The elegant home, still known among Georgetown insiders as the "Fritchey house," was once the scene of high-powered cocktail parties and dinners where the world's issues were debated by leading politicians, journalists and intellectuals. More recently, during the 2004 presidential campaign, the home was known more for the black Secret Service SUVs parked outside.

After the Edwardses bought the house, which has seven bedrooms, six full baths and two half-baths, they renovated it to suit their family's needs, Elizabeth Edwards said. The couple lived in the home with their two young children, Emma Claire, 7, and Jack, 4. Their oldest daughter, Cate, who recently graduated from Princeton University and now works as an editorial assistant at Vanity Fair magazine, visited on holidays and school vacations .

"We pretty much gutted it," said Elizabeth Edwards, "but we wanted to keep the character of the house, since so many people knew it. But it needed to be more family-friendly for us."

Edwards said the couple changed the ground-floor layout, connecting the renovated kitchen to a family room, put in central air conditioning, enclosed a porch, added a study upstairs, rewired the house for computer use, added a room in the carriage house above the garage, replaced part of the flooring with heart pine from an old mill in South Carolina, and redid several bathrooms. They added almost 2,000 square feet to the house, then painted the exterior "buttermilk yellow with sage-green" shutters, she said.

"The pastel colors give the house a very southern feel," said Georgetown real estate agent Nancy Taylor Bubes of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, who recently showed the house to a potential buyer. Bubes said the fact that Edwards owned the house, already a well-known property in the neighborhood, "added a certain cachet to it."

She said, however, that at that price range, Georgetown buyers usually prefer a location east of Wisconsin Avenue and farther from Georgetown University.

Recently, to get the house ready for sale, the Edwardses shipped hundreds of books to their home in Raleigh and cleared out clutter.

"I'm sitting at the desk in the study now and there's nothing on top of it," Edwards said, laughing. "It doesn't look like anybody lives here anymore."

The Edwards home is listed with agent W. Ted Gossett, a fellow former North Carolinian, who is also marketing Hickory Hill, Robert F. Kennedy's old family home in McLean, for $20 million.

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