View Photo Gallery: The Washington Post’s picks of distinguished homes on the D.C. area market.

Octagon houses were all the rage in pre-Civil War America. An amateur architect, Orson Squire Fowler, popularized the style with the publication of his book “A Home for All” in 1848. Fowler claimed these homes promoted a healthier lifestyle because they were better ventilated and better lighted.

This week’s featured home, a Northeast Washington roundhouse, was built long after the octagon craze had subsided and is the only home of this style still in existence in the District today. The only other example is the Octagon on New York Avenue NW, which now houses a museum for architecture and design.

Edward Woltz designed the Brookland roundhouse, which was built for John C. Louthan in 1901. Louthan reportedly had the home constructed to accommodate his wheelchair-bound wife.

Ethelda McKinney was the most recent owner of the home and she lived there for 60 years. When she died, she left it to her niece, who sold it to a real estate investor. That investor gutted the home but ran out of money. Ditto Residential stepped in and hired architect Chuong Cao of DEP Designs to renovate and expand the home, modernizing it while preserving much of its character.

“Nothing was easy,” said listing broker Shemaya Klar of Prudential PenFed Realty. “Every piece of Sheetrock had to be scored on the back because the house is round. Every piece of electrical conduit had to be curved.”

The rear circumference was extended by 12 feet, increasing the living space to nearly 2,600 square feet. The original spiral staircase that connects the main living area with the upstairs bedrooms was replaced by custom Elemental Metalworks stairs that are lit by a central skylight.

The entrance to the home opens up to a contemporary open floor plan with a kitchen, dining and living area. The second floor has four bedrooms, including a master suite.

The house sits on a manicured corner lot with old growth trees. The English garden was preserved and updated by landscape architect Carolyn Mullet.

More information about the house, which is on the market for $799,900, can be found at

Listing 1001 Irving St. NE

Last week’s House of the Week

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