After the school closed in 1942, the Army seized it under the War Powers Act and turned it into an annex of what was then Walter Reed General Hospital. It became a rehabilitation center for wounded soldiers through the Vietnam War. After the war ended, the Army abandoned it, leaving it to decay. Maryland designated the property a National Register Historic District in 1972.
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By the 1990s, the Army wanted to dispose of the property. A nonprofit group, Save Our Seminary, was formed in 1988 to preserve and protect the many unusual buildings. After a long process, a deal was struck between the federal General Services Administration and Montgomery County in 2004.
Since then, the 32-acre community of single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums and rental apartments has been developed by the Alexander Co., EYA, Washington Landmark and Avamere Development.
Baptiste’s mother was on the Save Our Seminary board and the Montgomery County Planning Board when the project was being considered for approval. She suggested that the couple think about living there. Having grown up in the area, Baptiste was familiar with National Park Seminary. Her grandfather had attended a dance in the ballroom when he was in college.
But nostalgia aside, there wasn’t much to recommend it when Baptiste and her husband took a leap of faith and moved into one of the two units in the Music Hall section of the 42-unit Main Condo building in 2009.
“We kind of fell in love with it before we’d even seen it,” Baptiste said. “We were the first people to move into the condos. It was just us and the night watchman for a while.”
Built in 1927, the Music Hall was one of architect James E. Ament’s neoclassical additions that contributed to the Beaux-Arts character of the campus. It connected the Odeon Theater and the Senior House Annex, becoming the final link in a continuous structure that stretched across campus between the Main building and the auditorium.
The condo has an unusual layout. The entry door leads to stairs that ascend to what Baptiste calls “the folly,” a long L-shaped hallway with a turret. One end of the hallway is used as a guest bedroom.
Continuing up the stairs, you arrive in the main living area, with its 22-foot-high ceilings. A six-foot-tall statue of Andromeda, a figure from Greek mythology, is perched near one corner of the ceiling.
“We never felt like we were living in a cavern or a space that wasn’t meant to be a home,” Baptiste said. “There’s a grandeur to the space, but it’s not an imposing one.”
A long hallway with seven 10-foot-high arched windows leads to two bedrooms. The 630-square-foot covered, elevated terrace with eight Greek Revival columns can be entered at either end of the hallway.
“We would spend whole days out there [on the terrace] when the weather was nice,” Baptiste said.
The unusual floor plan was ideal for entertaining.
“It turned out to be this spectacular space,” Baptiste said. “We’ve hosted fundraisers. We’ve hosted a half-dozen engagement parties. We had two wedding receptions. It’s just glorious space.”
The tall windows and high ceilings give the space a light, airy feeling during the day. But Baptiste said the condo is equally appealing at night.
“One of the things I really miss is, we don’t ever see the moon where we are now,” she said. “As the moon would rise on the terrace side, we could watch the moon rise, and you’d get great moonlight through the windows. We purposefully didn’t have window treatments put on those historic arched windows. My youngest always talks about her moon.”
The condo comes with two covered parking spaces, an in-unit laundry and access to a community room, a fitness center and the landscaped grounds. The monthly condo fee is $1,283. Owners can apply for a historic preservation tax credit on their annual property tax bill.
“It was a magical place to live, which is what we expected it to be and it certainly was,” Baptiste said.
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 3,468-square-foot condo is listed at $950,000. An open house is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Listing: 2829 Sacks St., MH201, Silver Spring, Md.
Listing agent: Theo Harding, Compass
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