The centerpiece of this Bethesda contemporary is its center.

Nestled in the middle of the home is an outdoor oasis that is at its best in the spring, when the flowering cherry tree and azaleas are in full bloom. This inner courtyard is guarded on three sides by the living room, dining room and family room with eight sliding-glass doors offering easy access. It provided an idyllic setting for the wedding of the owners’ daughter.

Built in 1963, the home was designed by architect Grosvenor Chapman for Herbert W. Robinson, a former assistant to Lord Cherwell, the science adviser to Winston Churchill. Robinson later immigrated to Washington where he founded CEIR, which later was acquired by Control Data Corp.

John E. Nolan, a senior partner at Steptoe & Johnson who had helped negotiate the release of prisoners from the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, bought the home from Robinson and has lived there for the past 38 years.

Chapman, who had been chairman of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City and who was best known for his historic preservation work in this area, created the 5,742-square-foot home where the outdoors is never far away.

In the living room, three sliding-glass doors lead to balconies at the front of the house that overlook a sprawling front lawn and three more doors lead to the courtyard. The dining room also has sliding-glass doors that open to balconies and ones that open to the courtyard. The family room’s sliding-glass doors open to the courtyard and to an outdoor deck that overlooks the pool.

The master bedroom suite, with his-and-hers bathrooms and a sitting area, has views of the tennis court and the front lawn.

Walls of glass bathe the home with light. Random-width oak floors in the living room, dining room, family room and kitchen add warmth and character.

The downstairs recreation room has space for billiard and ping-pong tables. The wine cellar might have originally been designed as a bomb shelter.

The four-bedroom, six-bath home is on a two-acre lot across the road from the fifth hole of the Congressional Country Club’s Gold Course. It is listed at $1.625 million. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Listing: 7830 Persimmon Tree Lane, Bethesda

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Do you have a home that deserves to be the House of the Week? Contact Kathy Orton at or 202-334-9876.