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French-inspired Kalorama house for sale for $3.99 million

HOUSE OF THE WEEK | Five-bed, five-bath house was built for an ambassador, connects through the backyard to the former estate of Ted Kennedy

The foyer leads up marble stairs to a grand staircase that connects three levels. (Photos by Constance Gauthier)

Marble-clad and French-inspired, this Kalorama house has a long history of prominent owners.

It was built in 1967 for Robert Mills McClintock, a U.S. Foreign Service officer. A 1931 graduate of Stanford, he served as vice consul to Panama City and Kobe, Japan. In 1946, McClintock began a two-year stint as a political adviser to the U.S. delegation to the U.N. General Assembly. He was the first U.S. ambassador to live in Cambodia (1954-1956), and he is most widely known as the ambassador to Argentina and, later, to Venezuela.

The house was later sold to Wallace Robinson Jr., a lieutenant general who served as quartermaster general of the Marine Corps and directed the development of a system of supply management during the Vietnam War era. He also served from 1977 to 1991 as president of what is now the National Defense Industrial Association.

Behind the house, a doorway in the brick wall leads to a property on Tracy Place that was once owned by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). The California Street residence is thought to have once been a carriage house for this structure, which was built in the 1920s. The pathway may also have been a connection point between neighbors.

Kennedy owned the Tracy Place property with second wife Victoria Reggie Kennedy until his death in 2009. It was previously owned by Paul Nitze, who was a Cold War strategist, negotiator, diplomat and Washington insider. A former U.S. deputy secretary of defense, Nitze is known for his conciliatory efforts to achieve arms agreements. Now, the property is owned by the Republic of Gabon.

The five-bedroom, five-bathroom Kalorama house was inspired by French designers and fashioned for entertaining; the current owners said they have hosted up to 150 guests at a time for holiday and birthday gatherings. The house’s open floor plan allows parties to flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. The quiet neighborhood made it easy for guests to find street parking nearby, the owners said.

Because it was built for an ambassador, the house had a service kitchen behind a jib door when the current owners bought it in 2013. A renovation that year relocated the kitchen, now larger and an open concept, to what was a dining room. The former kitchen was turned into a family area. This renovation also transformed the primary bathroom into an airy, spa-inspired suite based on the St. Regis hotels, including materials designed to look “timeless,” such as neutral marbles.

During another renovation, in 2021, the owners added a marble-clad laundry room, a mudroom and a garage with a charging station to the entry level. There is also storage space, two bathrooms and an elevator on this level.

The French doors of the Parisian-style house open to a foyer with 10-foot ceilings and marble floors, with bedrooms on either side. Curving grand stairs lead to the main level, which has the updated kitchen, dining room and ballroom-size living room with a wood-burning fireplace, where McClintock hosted events. Glass doors in the kitchen and dining room lead to the backyard, which has an elm tree more than 200 years old, according to real estate agent Cynthia Howar. The exterior also includes a slate patio.

On the third level, the primary suite includes a bathroom with double sinks and marble countertops, walls and floors. Two other bedrooms, including one with a Murphy bed, on this floor could be used as home offices.

$3,995,000

2429 California St. NW, Washington, D.C.

  • Bedrooms/bathrooms: 5/5
  • Approximate square-footage: 4,752
  • Lot size: 0.11 acres/4,763 square feet
  • Features: This Kalorama house was built in 1967 for diplomat Robert Mills McClintock. The interiors include crown molding, floor-to-ceiling windows, dark-stained hardwood and marble flooring, and ample entertaining space.
  • Listing agent: Cynthia Howar, Washington Fine Properties.
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