The house on Fordham Road was falling apart. The roof leaked, the framing was rotted, mice invaded and, according to owner Jonathan Smith, it was a site for drug-related activity. Once a showpiece on a prominent corner lot of the Spring Valley street, the structure sat vacant and decaying for years.
Smith chose to tear it down and construct a new house on the property. The plot sold for $1.6 million in 2021; the newly completed project is now on the market for $5.25 million.
Located on a suburban street lined with mature trees, the new house was designed to resemble the longer-standing Georgian-, Colonial- and Tudor-style houses in the neighborhood. Smith’s team studied the deconstructed house to re-create its English Tudor style. They added stucco roofing and a painted brick chimney to allow the new house to blend in with the older ones nearby. New copper gutters will oxidize in about a year to create a vintage look, Smith said.
He did, however, encounter constraints building where the dilapidated house once stood. Old oak trees and large rocks blocked areas his team needed to access, and the space originally designated for a basement had to be reduced, because part of the house sits on a crawl space. But the new house, completed in 2022, resembles its predecessor in style.
Past a porch and through a large front door, the front foyer includes herringbone floors. The team was thoughtful about installing Ply Gem windows and French doors throughout the first floor in a way that allows outside views from nearly all angles. The goal, Smith said, was to create a “usable space that flows.”
The first floor has 10-foot cathedral ceilings. A dining room off the foyer leads to a study with green walls and built-in cabinetry and shelving. Through a mudroom and connected to a large family room, the kitchen includes white oak floors, polished nickel detailing and white Carrara marble countertops. This level also has an attached sunroom, deck and patio.
The second level includes a primary suite with 14-foot ceilings, a fireplace, two-door balcony and two walk-in closets. The primary bathroom has designer tile and custom cabinetry with a walk-in shower and detached tub. Near a second-floor laundry room, there are three bedrooms, each with a bathroom and walk-in closet.
The lower level has a bedroom with full windows and an en suite bathroom. A recreation room has a bar, and a mudroom connects to a two-car garage. New owners could add an elevator to a shaft connecting the levels.
About a half-mile away from the property was the site of a chemical weapons dump, a location where scientists developed weapons such as mustard gas during World War I in what was then a remote part of the District. In 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a lengthy removal process more than a century after the original project.
The property was first listed in early November as one of the most expensive properties for sale in Spring Valley. The neighborhood, which has been home to at least three U.S. presidents, along with Supreme Court justices and billionaires, has had increased property values since 2019, with most houses selling for around $2 million. The area is walkable and is welcoming new businesses on Massachusetts and Wisconsin avenues.
- Bedrooms/bathrooms: 5/6
- Approximate square-footage: 6,600
- Lot size: 0.35 acres
- Features: The English Tudor house, completed in 2022, replaced a house that sat abandoned for years. The new project features cathedral ceilings, a primary suite with two walk-in closets and Carrara marble countertops.
- Listing agents: Robert Hryniewicki, Adam T. Rackliffe and Christopher R. Leary, HRL Partners; Jennifer Thornett and Micah Corder at Washington Fine Properties.
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