The corner of Sherman Avenue and Morton Street in Northwest Washington is the site of a small new development of 24 two- and three-level condos in three low-rise buildings.
Located in the District’s Parkview neighborhood, where lots of construction and renovation are taking place, this one-third-acre property is distinguished by a unique feature.
It’s the home of a historic 1905 church designed and built by William Sidney Pittman, Washington’s first African American architect to have his own office. The church was Pittman’s first professional commission and the last of his three churches still standing, said Kent C. Boese, chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A.
“The church is significant,” said Sean Ruppert, principal of Opal, the builder who bought the lot in 2013. In fact, he incorporated the church’s exterior facade into the design of eight units.
Of these eight, three two-level units are built within the historic church facade. Each of those has a small front garden, thereby creating a mini mews and conferring the development’s name. A mews is a British term for houses located off the main street and around a courtyard or garden. Five others are contiguous to the church and are designed to visually blend with it.
“I like that the church wasn’t razed but rather is incorporated into the greater development,” Boese said. During deconstruction of the church, some bricks were set aside and reused in the new construction.
“After our work is complete, we’ll landmark the church building and it’ll be added to the city’s African American history walking tour,” Ruppert said.
Lots of light: Overall, the development features a mix of architecture that melds modern touches with older styles. “Morton Street Mews struck me as setting a new bar in the neighborhood. Architecturally, the buildings fit well with the historic rowhouses in the area, and I suspect that many who move into the neighborhood in the next five years may not realize that they are new construction,” Boese said.
Twelve units are sold, and 12 are on the market. Prime Building Advantage is handling the sales.
All the units are on the bigger side, especially compared to many new builds in the District. “We prefer to build larger, family-size homes. We use the additional square footage to create reading nooks, home office cubbies and other quiet spaces,” Ruppert said. Second bedrooms fit a queen bed, and master bedrooms fit a king bed.
Annika Toenniessen moved in March from a 900-square-foot space just four blocks away. “Now I have a duplex end-unit with 1,600 square feet and lots of light. I feel like I’m living in a house, really a mansion,” she said.
“I was the first buyer and bought it sight unseen. Sean [Ruppert] pulled out the floor plans and let me pick the best unit based on my price range,” she said.
“I actually moved in before I settled. I was supposed to settle Friday, March 11 but one thing led to another and I ended up settling Monday. I’d hired movers and Sean let me move in so I lived there for three days before settlement,” she added.
Chad Everitt and his husband, Vicente Garcia, moved into a three-level in early April. “The home is rich with light because it gets both east and west sun,” Everitt said. “The sun rises in the back of the house and fills the main living space. The bedroom faces the opposite direction so we don’t wake up from strong light but get it there later in the day.”
They converted the second bedroom on the main level to a shared office, which “makes it feel separate from the living space above,” he said. Up a flight, the living, dining and kitchen areas “are a great space for entertaining. They’re definitely set up for a good flow.”
The master suite is on the lowest level. The washer and dryer are behind a door in the bedroom so you don’t see them, Everitt said. “It’s nice that you don’t have to carry your laundry through the house.”
What’s nearby: Morton Street Mews is situated in the midst of an urban bloom of retail, commerce, restaurants, bars, cafes and services. Within walking distance are Safeway, Whole Foods, Giant, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy. “We’re constantly going to all the stores to pick up supplies, ” said Everitt. On or near the U Street corridor are the Lincoln Theatre, U Street Music Hall, 9:30 Club and the Brixton.
Schools: Harriet Tubman Elementary, Columbia Heights Education Campus, Cardozo High.
Transit: Both the Columbia Heights and Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro stations on the Yellow and Green lines are four blocks away. The No. 63 bus stop is on the corner of Sherman Avenue and Park Road NW.
“It’s very convenient,” Everitt said. “I travel for work and work from home. I take Metro to the Reagan National Airport, and it’s no problem pulling a suitcase on the sidewalk. Vicente takes the bus right in front of the house. He looks at his iPhone — he has the Metro app that tells him when the bus is coming. He drinks his coffee and in two minutes walks out the door.”
777 Morton St. NW, Washington
The 12 two- and three-level condos are priced from $715,000 to $1.3 million.
Features: Ceilings are nine feet on the living and bedroom levels. There’s a phone docking station, and pre-wire is installed for ceiling-mounted speakers. Wide plank engineered hardwood floors run throughout, and the staircase between floors is hardwood with classic handrails. Kitchen cabinets are 42-inch flat paneled with polished chrome pulls. Appliances are stainless steel GE and include a four-burner 30-inch gas cooktop and wall oven below. Microwave is built in. There are elongated toilets in the bathrooms.
Bedrooms/bathrooms: 2 to 3 / 3
Square footage: 1,200 to 2,000
Condo association fee: $211 to $340 per month
View model: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Monday and by appointment Tuesday to Thursday.
Sales: Joe Petrone, 240-274-1219 or www.opaldc.com/#!morton-street-mews/ccdi .