The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Pine Crest Manor in D.C.'s Cleveland Park listed at nearly $5 million

HOUSE OF THE WEEK | The six-bedroom, eight-bathroom house is a registered historical landmark. The property was the proposed site of a subdivision that was stopped in 1988.

The family room at Pine Crest Manor in D.C. leads to a screened porch. (Sean Shanahan)
4 min

Lydia Marshall “thought all hope was lost” when she arrived in 1991 at the auction of this house in D.C.'s Cleveland Park neighborhood and saw 26 other potential buyers.

“I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s this house on 1.6 acres. How is this possible in the middle of the District?’” she recalled recently. “But it turned out that there were only three bids. One dropped out early. One dropped out at our ceiling. We decided to pay $10,000 more, and we got the house.”

Pine Crest Manor, built in 1925, was spared a subdivision in 1988 that would have packed seven more houses on its grounds. The deal was so close to completion that a sign on Porter Street NW announced that new houses were coming soon, according to an article in The Washington Post.

Neighbors, already lamenting the recent loss of an 1823 outbuilding, rallied to defend Pine Crest and three other old houses from further affronts. One of them was once owned by Joshua Pierce, a prominent 19th-century horticulturalist who supplied ornamental plantings to the White House.

The Cleveland Park Historical Society, the D.C. Preservation League and a neighborhood resident applied to have the houses declared historically significant. The D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board approved the application and the subdivision plan was dropped.

When Marshall bought Pine Crest Manor three years later, the house was uninhabited and overgrown. (Back in 1988, neighborhood residents reported sightings of foxes, deer, raccoons and a monkey presumed to have escaped from the nearby National Zoo.) She orchestrated a major renovation before moving in.

“When we found it, the woodwork was covered with a reddish purple layer of paint,” Marshall said. “Quite unattractive. When we had all that stripped off, it turned out the woodwork was chestnut.”

A light finish was applied to the exposed wood in many first-floor rooms. She installed coffered ceilings, replaced the plumbing and the electrical system, matched the hardwood floors to the restored woodwork, and finished the attic and basement. Perennial gardens were added, and Marshall estimated that she had 200 to 250 trees planted during her three-decade residence.

Another renovation, 10 years ago, expanded the first floor to add a family room, a screened porch and an elevator that connects all of the house’s four levels.

“Whereas the original structure, like most older houses, was fairly vertical in its design, the new structure has a more horizontal feel or open feel,” Marshall said.

The Tudor-Revival style house has four levels, with three stories, including the finished attic, above the finished lower level.

Flanked by climbing hydrangea, the front door opens to the first floor with its original chestnut woodwork and custom millwork.

An atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows looks out on the side and rear yards. The main kitchen is next to the dining room, which has a coffered ceiling. The family room has a gas fireplace with a marble mantel, and sliding glass doors there lead to a screened porch and a patio. The living room has a six-foot stone fireplace, and an office nearby has custom built-in shelving and a barrel ceiling. This floor also has a powder room and a full bathroom.

On the second floor, the primary bedroom suite has a sitting room separated from the bedroom by a retractable television stand, which allows viewing from either side. Opaque sliding-glass doors lead to an en suite bathroom with a tub, a steam shower, a vanity and a porcelain floor. The primary suite also has a walk-in dressing room and an outdoor terrace. This level has three more bedrooms and two more bathrooms.

On the third floor, another bedroom suite has a deck, a full bathroom and several closets. The lower level has a powder room and laundry, along with a guest suite that has a private entrance, another kitchen, a family room and a full bathroom.

The property has a backyard and a two-car garage, plus parking for three more cars.


2323 Porter St. NW, Washington, D.C.

  • Bedrooms/bathrooms: 6/8
  • Approximate square-footage: 6,725
  • Lot size: 1.59 acres
  • Features: The 1925 Tudor Revival-style house has coffered ceilings, original chestnut woodwork and several fireplaces. The third-floor and lower levels were finished in 1991, and a 2013 addition included a first-floor family room and screened porch. The property has parking for five cars, including a two-car garage.
  • Listing agent: Nancy Taylor Bubes, Washington Fine Properties