Tuesday, July 28, 1981
Bulldozers, earth movers and construction workers are slicing up some of the District of Columbia's last remaining grand estates, demolishing manicured grounds and massive shade trees of Washington's old landed gentry to make way for the luxury town houses and postage-stamp lawns of Washington's new elite.
New homes, occupied by successful lawyers, doctors and other professionals and ranging in price up to $622,000, already dot the estates once owned by former vice president Nelson Rockefeller, oil heiress Anne Archbold and Riggs National Bank founder Charles A. Glover Sr. These developments alone will contain about 760 new homes when they are completed.
Located in prestigious Northwest Washington neighborhoods west of Rock Creek Park, the new subdivisions also promise to bring in much needed additional tax revenues to the cash-starved District of Columbia government. City tax officials say the new homes and smaller individual properties will generate far more revenues than the single mansions and rolling unoccupied lands they are replacing.
As for the remaining owners of the old estates, they now are caught between rising taxes and high maintenance costs on the one hand and increasingly attractive demands for their land as sites for new homes on the other.
Laughlin Phillips, director of the Phillips Collection, for example, has asked the city for permission to subdivide most of his family's 13-acre estate at 2101 Foxhall Rd. for new homes. The new owners of Tregaron, a well-known Cleveland Park estate, are trying to reach a compromise with surrounding neighbors on the size of a new housing development there.
"It's impossible these days for these huge estates to continue in the District," said Phillips.