Road Trip

A Dash of Primary Color on New Hampshire Avenue

Sunday, January 13, 2008

WHERE: New Hampshire Avenue.

WHY: An ale-ing castle, a Buddhist temple and DIY doughnuts.

HOW FAR: About 18 miles.

The road to last week's New Hampshire primary was filled with twists, turns and a few surprises -- much like our own New Hampshire Avenue. One of Washington's many diagonal state-named streets, New Hampshire Avenue can really trip you up if you aren't careful. It begins at the Kennedy Center, stops at 16th and U streets NW, then picks up on the north side of Columbia Heights at Park Road NW. From there, it wiggles to Takoma Park, Langley Park and Silver Spring before dumping onto Damascus Road at Brookeville.

But don't get too distracted by the curves or you'll miss the sights. The stretch that runs through Dupont Circle is full of architectural eye candy. The 31-room Brewmaster's Castle (a.k.a. the Christian Heurich Mansion), for example, was the first fireproofed home in the District. Made of concrete and steel, it looks medieval from the outside, but the interior is true to its Victorian heritage.

Not too far down the road is the Whittemore House, which was designed by local architect du jour Harvey Page and was once owned by opera singer Sarah Adams Whittemore. Today, it houses the Woman's National Democratic Club and Museum, which has drawn many Democratic presidential hopefuls. The last candidate to "stop by" was Howard Dean in 2004 (actually, it was a phone-in), and the group is expecting some senior-level advisers to this year's candidates at its forum Wednesday at 5 p.m. (Admission is $15.)

The streetside attractions don't stop at the border. In Silver Spring, a section of avenue called the Highway to Heaven is dotted with churches, synagogues and temples. Regardless of your beliefs, the gold onion domes of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral and the becalming art of the Cambodian Buddhist Temple will lift your spirits.

All good primary states have doughnut shops where candidates can pop in for coffee talk; New Hampshire Avenue doesn't disappoint on this score. At the Fractured Prune, you can build your own pastry: Choose a glaze, toppings and sugars to coat a hot fried cake. Now that's democracy at work.

-- Karen Hart

© 2008 The Washington Post Company