Distinguished homes for sale in the D.C. region

Hickory Ridge in Howard County | Hickory Ridge “is considered today one of the truly splendid homes built by the Maryland Ridgeleys,” Celia M. Holland wrote in her 1987 book “Old Homes and Families of Howard County, Maryland.” The 67-acre horse farm in Highland, Md., is listed at $9 million. (HomeVisit)

At first glance, you might miss it. But if you look closely at this Tudor in Georgetown — the windows, the wooden beams, the cathedral ceilings — there’s a hint of what it once was. Although the steeple is long gone, the bones of the former church remain.

In 1855, the Presbyterian Congregation built the Market Street Chapel at the cost of $1,100. (Market Street was later renamed 33rd Street.) According to a 2003 report on the history of the home written by Paul Kelsey Williams of Kelsey & Associates, the chapel was primarily for African Americans living west of Wisconsin Avenue. The first pastor was the Rev. William F. Speake. The D.C. government rented it in 1874 to use as classrooms.

The Presbyterian Church in Georgetown sold the chapel in 1901 to the West Washington Methodist-Episcopal Church. Five years later, it was sold to the Calvary Methodist-Episcopal Church. St. John’s Episcopal Church purchased the chapel in 1912.

As the African American population in West Georgetown declined in the early 1900s, the chapel was abandoned and fell into disrepair.

Carl F. Ernst, a lithographer from Germany who had lived in Cuba for 14 years before relocating to the United States, bought the chapel. He and his wife, Elsa, turned it into a 13-room dwelling, including two apartments.

Shortly after his wife’s death, Ernst sold the home to Thorsten V. Kalijarvi, a State Department official. Kalijarvi and his wife, Dorothy, entertained politicians and ambassadors in the home.

Kalijarvi later rented the home to Clive Chamber, who worked for the National Security Council; Andrew H. Keck, a professor at American University; and Glen A. Holden, the U.S. ambassador to Jamaica. George A. Peterson, a vice president at the National Geographic Society and later a painter, and his wife, Murray Spalding Peterson, bought the home in 1981.

The current owners took the home down to the studs in 2012 and completely renovated it, updating the kitchen and bathrooms, electrical wiring, plumbing, windows, and heating and air-conditioning system.

Sunlight cascades through the demilune and tall windows into the great room with its 18-foot vaulted barrel ceiling made of narrow pine slats. An iron chandelier, designed and built by Ernst, glows. A massive stone wood-burning fireplace anchors the room.

“It just has a ton of sun,” said Theresa Burt, Washington Fine Properties listing agent, who lives nearby in what used to be the rectory.

Above the chimney, running the length of the room, is the former choir loft, now a balcony off the master suite.

A bluestone patio across the rear of the house is an ideal spot for outdoor entertaining. The side yard with its Yoshino cherry tree, crepe myrtle, Japanese maples, hydrangeas, camellia bushes and butterfly bushes provides an oasis from the hustle and bustle of Georgetown.

The five-bedroom, five-bathroom home is listed at $3.895 million.

Listing agent: Theresa Burt, Washington Fine Properties

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