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Former residence of Swedish ambassador lists for $19.5 million

HOUSE OF THE WEEK | The seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom house was built for the founder of U.S. News & World Report

Arches in hallways give a stately feel to the house, which is owned by the Swedish government and once was the ambassador's residence. (Cassandra McKevitt/Compass Realty)

This 11,200-square-foot house, owned by the Swedish government and once the home of a well-known Washington publisher, sits on nearly seven acres, one of the largest parcels now on the market in Washington.

The house was built in 1925 for David Lawrence, owner, editor and publisher of U.S. News & World Report. Lawrence, a student of Woodrow Wilson’s at Princeton University, became a Washington correspondent for the New York Evening Post in 1916, and he reported from Washington for the Evening Post and other news organizations for more than 60 years and during 11 presidencies.

Lawrence founded the United States Daily in 1926 and the World Report about 20 years later. He merged the two magazines, in 1948, into the weekly U.S. News & World Report, which reached a circulation of nearly 2 million before his death in 1973. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Richard M. Nixon in 1970.

Lawrence is also known for donating land to Fairfax County, Va., for Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly.

The Swedish government purchased the property — in Northwest Washington’s American University Park neighborhood — in the 1950s. It has been home to 12 Swedish ambassadors, including Karin Olofsotter, who lived there from 2017 to 2019. She relocated the residence to the Swedish Embassy in Georgetown to be nearer downtown Washington and to have the added interior space needed to host larger events.

Real estate agent Cara Pearlman said that the house needs an estimated $1.5 million in renovations but that “someone with a smaller budget could still make it shine.”

During her two-year residence at the property, Olofsdotter hosted several fundraisers and events. Queen Silvia of Sweden, former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright and several American Nobel laureates were among the notable guests. Olofsdotter remembers visitors gathering in the garden in 2018 to watch Sweden play Germany in the World Cup on an outdoor screen.

At nearly seven acres, the property could be subdivided for detached houses or townhouses, according to Pearlman. Behind the garden, the land slopes down to a line of foliage.

“You have a fantastic view of the forest, and there’s actually wildlife in there,” Olofsdotter said. “Foxes in the spring, and lots of birds, cardinals and so on. It’s a really wonderful, wonderful, wonderful garden.”

The grounds have a lighted tennis court and a greenhouse. The driveway has two entrances, both gated, and a there is a circular section in front of the house that connects to a large parking lot and an attached garage.

The Mediterranean-style villa, with terracotta roofing, has three floors, all with hardwood floors and oversize windows. Much of the main level is used primarily for entertaining: a commercial-grade kitchen, a formal library, a ballroom and paved terraces outside, including one covered by an awning. But a wing for support staff, a family room, a den and a study are spaces involved in daily living.

The second story (upper level) has six bedrooms, each with en suite bathroom. It also has a second kitchen, a recreation room, a sunroom and a rooftop deck. The primary bedroom has a walk-in closet and opens to a balcony. This level overlooks the main level foyer.

The lower level has ample space for storage, a media room and an exercise room.

“It is a fantastic location,” Olofsdotter said, “so I’m really curious to find out who buys it and what they will do with it.”


3900 Nebraska Ave N.W.

  • Bedrooms/bathrooms: 7/9
  • Approximate square-footage: 11,212
  • Lot size: 6.7 acres
  • Features: This 1925 house was built for the founder of U.S. News & World Report and has been owned by the Swedish government since the 1950s. The current Swedish ambassador to the United States lived here from 2017 to 2019. It is one of the largest properties currently for sale in the area. The house has terracotta roofing, a dark oak library and a ballroom. The grounds have a greenhouse, a tennis court and a garden.
  • Listing agent: Cara Pearlman and Timothy-Jay Morton, Compass