When Miriam Schottland moved into a two-bedroom condo in a converted mansion on the edges of the Kalorama neighborhood, she channeled her artistic skills to transform the interior into a space that pays homage to the building’s Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival exterior.
The 1901 house, which is across the street from the exclusive Cosmos Club, was designed by Paul J. Pelz for Frederick A. Miller, a wealthy naval commander. Pelz was the main architect of the Library of Congress.
After Miller died, the house changed hands several times. Washington developer Harry Wardman owned it during the 1920s. Costa Rica and El Salvador leased it for their diplomatic delegations. During the 1930s, the home was carved up into a 35-unit boardinghouse, known as the Argyle Guest House.
Developer Bruce H. Macleod acquired the building in the early 1980s, hiring the architectural firm Richard Ridley and Associates to turn it into nine luxury condos. Two fires — one in 1984, another in 1985 — delayed the renovation. Arson was suspected. Ridley won a Dupont Circle Conservancy Historic Preservation award for his work on the building.
Schottland, who bought the unit in 1988, was one of the first to own in the building. Before moving to Washington, she had been a successful commercial artist in New York, designing book and album covers.
According to a news release for an event she hosted in 2011, Schottland had wanted to be a fighter pilot as a young girl. But at that time, women weren’t allowed to engage in air combat. Instead, she became an illustrator. During the Vietnam War, she was offered the opportunity to travel to the conflict as an artist. She flew in F-4s, F-105s and B-52s. Her paintings from the trip hang in the Pentagon.
When Schottland moved to Washington, she discovered a love of driving fast cars and became an expert in counterterrorism driving. She taught high-performance driving to the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the military and various police departments. In her 70s, she opened DriveLab, a company that teaches drivers to be more confident on the road.
Schottland’s apartment consists of four floors in one of the building’s turrets. She took advantage of the curves to highlight the home’s unusual features. In the living room, floor-to-ceiling bookcases flank large, intricately designed leaded glass windows. A wood-burning fireplace warms the space. The walls of the master bedroom are painted so as to evoke Rapunzel’s tower. The dining room overlooks Olga Hirshhorn’s famous “Mouse House.”
Schottland trained her artistic eye on the hand-painted floors, stained pine millwork, crown moldings, tin embellished ceilings and ornate corbels to give the home an Old World feel, with just enough modern touches to make it fresh and inviting. The kitchen features quartz countertops and white shaker cabinets.
The two-bedroom, three-bathroom, 1,234-square-foot condo is listed at $859,000. The condo fee is $879 a month.
Listing: 2201 Massachusetts Ave. NW, No. 4, Washington, D.C.
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