Newspapers tucked behind a mirror above the living room fireplace led Connie Rath to surmise that her stately red brick Victorian in Logan Circle might be older than she had been told. When she was having the plaster around the mirror painted, some of it crumbled, revealing newspapers from 1869. However, the date on the permit to build the house on file with the city is May 1883. The 14-year difference is a mystery, but perhaps those thrifty builders saved their newspapers.
The house was designed by noted Washington architect Glenn Brown for Thomas P. Simpson, a patent attorney and scion of a prominent Washington family. Simpson’s grandfather came to Washington in 1783 and was clerk of works, a sort of deputy to the architect of the Capitol and White House. His uncle Walter Lenox was mayor of Washington and a regent of the Smithsonian Institution.
Brown was the founder of the Washington chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and several of his buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The chapter named one of its awards after him. His two-volume history of the U.S. Capitol is considered his most important legacy.
In her article “Residential Architecture of Washington D.C. and Its Suburbs” on the Library of Congress’s website, Pamela Scott wrote that “although best known as an administrator and author, Glenn Brown’s surviving houses in the Logan, Dupont and Sheridan circle areas prove him to have been one of the city’s most polished and erudite architects in the first half of the twentieth century.”
The previous owners before Rath, Bob and Connie Maffin, bought the house in 1974, shortly after they married. Connie Maffin, a longtime real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, was very active in the Logan Circle neighborhood. She served on the Logan Circle Community Association, organizing the annual holiday house tour until her death in 2009. She also supported the theater community by allowing out-of-town actors to stay at the house free of charge while they were performing in local productions.
Some big-name stars made use of the Maffins’ home, as well. In 1980, the house was used to film a scene for the movie “The First Family,” starring Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Gilda Radner and Bob Newhart. The living and dining rooms were the setting in which the injured president (Newhart) is taken following an accident.
Although Rath updated the house for modern living, renovating the kitchen and bathrooms, she preserved many of its period details, including the brightly colored stained-glass windows in the upstairs and downstairs bays. The house has elegant millwork, high ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces and large private brick patio in the back.
The five-bedroom, four-bathroom main house includes two rental units. A one-bedroom carriage house with garage parking is behind the main house. It is listed at $3.5 million.
Listing agents: Daryl Judy and Kimberly Casey, Washington Fine Properties
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