Having spent more than a century as a church building, this circa 1810 Italianate-style home in Georgetown is once again a private residence.
The last person to live in the home was Asaph Hall, who bought the house in 1868, six years after he was attached to the Naval Observatory. Hall lived there with his wife and four sons for nearly 40 years, adding a third floor, two bulging bays and an elegant iron porch.
Hall, who came from a poor family in Connecticut, was a largely self-taught astronomer. During his 30 years at the Naval Observatory, he made several important astronomical excursions — including trips to the Bering Strait in 1869 and to Siberia in 1874 — and contributed valuable information on double stars. But he is best known for his 1877 discovery of the moons of Mars, which he called Deimos and Phobos (for the two sons of Ares in Greek mythology). The Hall crater on the moon is named in his honor.
After Hall died in 1907, the house was sold to a new church that needed a place for worship.
A July 1908 article in the Washington Evening Star with the headline “Colored Baptists Organize and Elect Officers” reported that the church was started by the Rev. W. Bishop Johnson, pastor of the Second Baptist Church. It was known as Alexander Memorial Baptist Church after the Rev. Sandy Alexander, a former slave who was the founder of the First Baptist Church of Georgetown.
Not long after November 1908, when the Alexander Memorial Baptist Church bought the house, a sanctuary was constructed next to the home.
In June 2013, the church decided to relocate to Maryland and sell the property. The last worship service in Georgetown was held on Dec. 28, 2014.
At some point over the years, the bay windows and porch were removed. But much of the house remained intact.
“The 1810 walls in the basement are still there,” said Sassan Gharai, the Bethesda-based architect and developer who restored the house and turned the sanctuary next door into three condos. “There’s a real sense of history about this house. It’s a cool house. The whole project is really amazing.”
Gharai had no plans to do anything but turn the house back into a single-family home.
“It was such an intact house,” he said. The project “was more a restoration than anything else. I basically was led by what was there.”
Although he managed to save and restore many features, such as the staircase and its handrails, others, such as the floors, had to be replaced. He also modernized the home by adding an elevator and upgrading the kitchen and bathrooms.
While Gharai is pleased with how the house turned out, he is most happy about the yard. Because the house is set back from the street, it has substantial front, side and back yards.
“My favorite part in time will be the garden,” he said. “The garden will be amazing.”
The seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom, 5,250-square-foot house is listed at $6.795 million.
Listing: 2715 N St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Listing agent: Shahab Nasrin, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty
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