The co-op apartment building at 2101 Connecticut Ave. NW in D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood has been home to ambassadors, military officers, congressmen and senators, a Supreme Court justice, and a vice president.
Monali Chowdhurie, who acquired this second-floor corner apartment in an estate sale in 2013, described it as a “sociological treatise on how Washingtonians lived once upon a time.”
“It was just fascinating,” Chowdhurie said. “It was quite amusing the way they must have lived and the way we live now.”
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James M. Goode, in his 1988 book, “Best Addresses,” about Washington’s distinguished apartment buildings, called 2101 Connecticut the “finest apartment house to appear in Washington between the two World Wars.”
Designed by Joseph Abel and George T. Santmyers, the building opened as rental apartments in 1928. The layout resembled two Hs — H-H — giving each apartment three exposures to natural light. The striking facade has elements taken from Gothic, Moorish and Spanish Colonial architecture. Terra cotta grotesques add a bit of whimsy to the roof. The building converted to a co-op in 1976.
Douglas MacArthur II, who was named for his uncle, the famous general, was among the luminaries who called 2101 Connecticut home. He was a career diplomat and served as U.S. ambassador to Japan and Belgium. His wife, Laura, had resided in the building with her parents, Alben and Dorothy Barkley. Alben Barkley lived here while serving as Harry Truman’s vice president. (Vice presidents did not have an official residence until 1977 when Walter Mondale moved into One Observatory Circle.)
Adm. John McCain and his wife, Betty, the parents of Sen. John McCain of Arizona, were among the many military couples who settled here. Lt Gen. Leslie Groves, chief of the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bomb, was a resident as were Gen. William Quinn and his wife, Betty, the parents of Sally Quinn, the author and journalist.
Bill Maillard, a congressman from California and ambassador to the Organization of American States, and his wife were known for their July Fourth fireworks-watching party at the building. Other notables who lodged at 2101 Connecticut were U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and Rep. H. Malcolm Baldridge of Nebraska, whose daughter Letitia served as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s social secretary.
Chowdhurie doesn’t know who the previous residents of her apartment were. She and her husband were drawn to it mainly for its proximity to Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle and Rock Creek Park.
“Even though we liked the outside of the building, we’re very into minimalism, elegant straight lines, not too many of those curlicues that they had,” she said. “It was actually quite difficult thinking about how to renovate it because we’re very different people.”
Because Chowdhurie and her husband had remodeled two previous homes, this project did not intimidate them. But modernizing the apartment, which hadn’t been updated recently, was a challenge.
“For some time, we were stumped,” she said. “We spent a lot of time just thinking about how to do it before we started the renovation.”
The couple hired Armin Bondoc of Landis Architects-Builders, who had worked with them on previous projects. One of the biggest challenges was adding a powder room.
“I kept thinking, ‘How on earth are we going to do this?’ Because the plumber kept saying no,” Chowdhurie said. “What I did was I went and looked at other apartments — people are very nice — and then I found someone who had a powder room. I asked them how they managed to put it there.”
Chowdhurie also hired EcoNize Closets to install more closets.
“I’m closet crazy,” she said. “I like where I live to be neat, and I don’t want to cram things into closets so I always joke that I create closets out of nowhere.”
When enlarging the kitchen, Chowdhurie had a request. She wanted the countertops on one side to be lower than the other.
“Women are shorter than men,” she said. “Nobody takes that into account.”
Now when she wet grinds spices on a flat stone, Chowdhurie can use more of her upper body strength to push down on the cylindrical pestle.
The couple was thoughtful about how artwork would be displayed throughout the home. They designed the alcoves at the end of the gallery for vases made of Makrana marble, lighting them from above and below. Because the marble, which was used in building the Taj Mahal, is translucent, light passes through the vases.
The four-bedroom, four-bathroom, 3,200-square-foot co-op apartment is listed at just under $2 million. The monthly co-op fees are $4,407.
- Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4/4
- Approximate square-footage: 3,200
- Co-op fee: $4,407 monthly
- Features: The co-op apartment was renovated by Landis Architects-Builders. It has nine-foot ceilings, oak flooring, and light from northern, eastern and southern exposures. The kitchen has black granite countertops. The walk-in pantry has a second full-size refrigerator. The building has a 24-hour concierge desk, doorman service, a gym, wine storage, a meeting room, and an expansive roof deck with grills, D.C. monument views and dining spaces. One parking space and two storage units convey.
- Listing agent: Christopher Burns, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty