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LeDroit Park house on the market for just under $2 million

HOUSE OF THE WEEK | This four-bedroom, five-bathroom 1873 house was once occupied by the first Black congressman after Reconstruction

The dining area has large bay windows, and the kitchen has a breakfast bar. (HomeVisit)
4 min

Sarah Gragert wasn’t looking to move from D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood until she saw the listing for this LeDroit Park house in 2019.

“For me, it was real estate love at first sight,” Gragert said. “I was just in awe and couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s got many bells and whistles, but what really makes it special is that it’s the best of all worlds.”

The turreted 1873 house, in the Beaux-Arts style, blends a rich history with modern amenities. It is one of 64 houses in the neighborhood designed by architect James H. McGill between 1873 and 1877. Each was one of a kind, and 50 still stand.

LeDroit Park was marketed to prominent White professionals as an idyllic neighborhood with tree-lined streets and flower beds, according to the National Park Service. It was gated and guarded to promote the “security” of its residents.

From 1886 to 1891, students at Howard University — then almost entirely Black — waged a successful campaign to open a path between Howard and downtown Washington. Black families moved into LeDroit Park, and White families moved out. But the neighborhood continued to attract elites. Oscar De Priest, a civil rights activist from Chicago and the first Black congressman elected after Reconstruction, lived in this house during three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

By 2019, this house had fallen into disrepair. The developer who renovated it used some hardwood flooring to construct a bedroom wall, but few other original features could be salvaged. The basement was dug out, and the attic was turned into a family room and a bathroom. Those improvements were among the changes most appreciated by Gragert and her husband, Ciceron Lopez.

“Even though [the attic] does not have windows, we managed to make it a nice office/movie theater room,” Lopez said. “The shape of the room helps the acoustics, which makes it better-[suited] than any other room in the house.”

The couple installed an audio system throughout the house and on the backyard patio, which has a new gas firepit. They added electronic blinds on timers and electronic switches and locks operated with WiFi.

“From the outside, it’s got this historical Victorian charm and beauty, but inside, the elegance and features of a beautiful modern home,” Gragert said.

The house has curved bay windows, tall windows, oak chevron floors and a slate roof. The open-concept main level includes a living room with a fireplace and a bathroom. A chef’s kitchen has custom cabinets and an island countertop with a sink and a breakfast bar.

The primary bedroom suite, on the second floor, has walk-in closets and an en suite bathroom with dual vanities and a shower enclosure that includes a soaking tub. A bedroom on this level is used as a home office and shares a bathroom with another bedroom.

Gragert said the improvised office has a big bay window and views of a cherry tree whose blossoms can be admired from two windows. “There’s just so much natural light in here. I feel at peace there,” she said.

The finished basement has a guest bedroom and bathroom. The detached two-car garage has a charging station for electronic cars. The garage is now used as a home gym.

“To have a detached, full-sized two-car garage with full-height ceilings in D.C., that’s pretty hard to find,” Gragert said. “That ultimately is what really sold me on the house, as much as I love everything about the house.”

Another distinctive amenity is a marble dog shower that Gragert said she “wasn’t sure if [she] even wanted, but now couldn’t live without.” Her goldendoodle, she said, is also a fan.

The house is close to multiple Metro stations, and the neighborhood is walkable.

“What I’m going to miss the most is the neighbors and the neighborhood,” Gragert said. “Our block is this hidden gem. It’s this little slice of suburbia right in the middle of the city.”


419 U St. NW, Washington, D.C.

  • Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4/5
  • Approximate square-footage: 4,000
  • Lot size: 3,780 square feet
  • Features: This renovated 1873 house has a turret, big windows and oak chevron floors. The open-concept first floor has a chef’s kitchen and a living room with a fireplace. The primary bedroom suite is on the second floor. One of two other second-floor bedrooms is used as office space. A finished attic above the second floor is used as living and office space. The finished basement has a guest bedroom. There is a detached two-car garage and an enclosed backyard with a patio.
  • Listing agent: Cheryl Kurss, Compass Real Estate.