It's the town's other status address -- 1651 Pennsylvania Ave. -- where spending the night is the ultimate stopover in power tripping.
Never mind the staples holding the wallpaper together, the condensation stains on the rugs from clogged air-conditioner drains, the warped and squeaky floor or the antiquated plumbing and electrical systems. When you're a king or a president and guest of the president of the United States -- as is the case this week with German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt -- it's not polite to notice such things.
Finally, though, the three-building Blair House complex, which has 115 rooms and 35 baths and powder rooms, may be in line for a face lift. According to the General Services Administration, the Georgetown architectural firm of Cooper Lecky Partnership has been awarded a $44,415 contract to survey structural conditions, including the security and fire protection facilities, communications outlets, the food service system, heating and air conditioning, and to find out just how inconvenient Blair House is for any physically handicapped guests.
Expected to take seven weeks to complete, the survey will identify the problems. It won't be the first time. GSA engineers did a preliminary one a year or so ago though nothing was ever done about it beyond immediate repairs.
"There aren't any urgent things," says a GSA spokesman. "If there were, we'd fix them anyway."
"Everybody treats Blair House like a stepchild because to set it right will take millions of dollars that the State Department will have to ask Congress to appropriate," says the ex-official. "But if the American people knew just how desperately Blair House needed attention, they'd be embarrassed to have visiting heads of state stay there."
Meanwhile, as the architects take stock of the building's structure, Cassandra Reeve Stone, recently appointed curator of Blair House, will be taking stock of its contents. The kitchen vault holds upwards of $3 million worth of sterling flatware and serving pieces, including at least one original Paul Revere tankard.
Among the items that have never been inventoried are Haviland and Wedgwood porcelain, crystal stemware and decanters, original works of art (a couple by Dwight Eisenhower) and antique furnishings, some of which are said to be in various states of disrepair by restoration experts who were summoned to look them over.