Buffy Cafritz was known for throwing a great party. Whether it was one of her grand inauguration soirees or an elegant dinner party at her Bethesda, Md., house, Buffy was, as Roxanne Roberts wrote in The Washington Post after her death last year, “one of the last great hostesses.”
Buffy and her husband, real estate developer William N. Cafritz, a nephew of Washington business leaders and benefactors Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz, “welcomed politicians, diplomats, Supreme Court justices, academics and others [into the home]. She valued charm, wit and kindness, and had little time for people who took themselves too seriously or had no sense of humor,” Roberts wrote. Bill Cafritz died in 2014.
The first inaugural party was in 1985, following the reelection of President Ronald Reagan, whom the Cafritzes had entertained in their home. Although the inaugural parties were held through 2001 at the Jockey Club in the Fairfax Hotel on Massachusetts Avenue NW in D.C. and later at other hotels, the house in the Bradley Hills neighborhood was the site of many A-list Washington parties.
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In 2018, when Earl “Rusty” Powell stepped down as the director of the National Gallery of Art, one of many beneficiaries of Buffy Cafritz’s philanthropy, she feted him at her home. The party’s guest list included Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), former Kennedy Center chairman Jim Johnson, Librarian of Congress emeritus James Billington, Ann Jordan, Barbara Allbritton, Maureen Scalia and Clarice Smith.
A party at the house in 1972 included actor Paul Henreid, who played Victor Laszlo in “Casablanca”; actress Agnes Moorehead, who was Endora on the television series “Bewitched”; Ricardo Montalbán, who was Mr. Roarke on the television series “Fantasy Island”; and Edward Mulhare, who was Professor Higgins in the original Broadway production of “My Fair Lady.” Surveying the throng at the Cafritz house, Montalbán told The Post that it was “like Hollywood parties used to be.”
The Cafritzes bought the 1944 Georgian-style house in 1958 from William R. Teunis, and they are believed to be only the second owners. In 35 years as a Washington optician, Teunis fitted glasses for President Harry S. Truman and other high-ranking government officials.
In the early 1970s, the Cafritzes brought in renowned interior designer Albert Hadley of Parish-Hadley to redesign the home. Elizabeth Stamp wrote in Architectural Digest in 2015 that “few firms have had a greater impact on the interior design world than Parish-Hadley. The partnership between Sister Parish and Albert Hadley influenced American decor for more than three decades.”
By moving the front door, Hadley created an entry hall. He also added onto the left side of the house, devising a new living room that Architectural Digest described as “large enough to accommodate the Washington elite who flock to the elaborate dinner dances and informal evenings which make the name Cafritz synonymous with entertaining on a grand scale.”
The renovation was featured in the March/April 1975 issue of Architectural Digest.
“It is a house without tricks,” Hadley told Architectural Digest. “But it does have a quality of fantasy about it.”
The house has been added onto since Hadley’s renovation. The bay window that Hadley moved to frame the patio and birch trees, no longer faces the outside. Now it faces the sunroom, which opens to the backyard. Besides the three walls of windows, an enormous skylight floods the room with natural light.
Between the living room and the sunroom is a family room with a fireplace, one of four in the house. A formal dining room, the kitchen and a guest suite are also on the main level.
The owner’s suite, on the second level, has two dressing rooms and two bathrooms. This level also has two more bedrooms and an office. An elevator runs between the first and second floors.
The top and lower levels each have a bedroom with an en suite bathroom. The lower level also has an exercise room and an office.
The grounds, which are just over an acre, are surrounded by mature trees. The stone path from the patio leads to a swimming pool and a gazebo. The circular driveway and motor court have parking for 10 vehicles.
The six-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 8,100-square-foot house is listed at just under $2.9 million.
- Bedrooms/bathrooms: 6/7
- Approximate square-footage: 8,100
- Lot size: 1.08 acre
- Features: The 1944 Georgian-style house in the Bradley Hills neighborhood was the longtime home of Washington philanthropists Buffy and Bill Cafritz. It has been the site of many A-list Washington parties over the years. Mature trees surround the grounds, providing privacy. There’s a swimming pool, a gazebo and parking for 10 vehicles.
- Listing agent: Theo Adamstein, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty