But finding enough bedrooms wasn’t their only criterion. They wanted a house with high ceilings. Sheldon is 6-foot-7. They wanted a modern open floor plan but with traditional living and dining rooms. And they wanted a house with a bit of history to it.
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The first house on the property was built from a Sears kit in the 1930s by Henry and Ida Marien. Henry was a printer who late in life starred in the movie “The Whidjit Maker,” the Gold Medal winner of the 1978 Washington Film Festival. Ida was a secretary with the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. Henry died in 1983, Ida in 2002.
Ida, who lived in the neighborhood for 67 years, was much admired in the community. She was a member of the Palisades Citizens Association, which honored her for her beautification and preservation efforts. She founded the preschool at the Palisades Field House and was a member of the Palisades Garden Club.
After Ida died, her children, Michael Marien and Rose Black, sold the property to developers Jeff Stoiber and Allen Curtis. While working in the neighborhood, they had gotten to know Ida. She told them that her wish was that the large lot not be subdivided more than once and that the original house be preserved.
Stoiber and Curtis agreed to honor her wishes. They hired building movers to lift the original house off its foundation and move it to the back of the lot. It became a carriage house, with two garages, one on each side, and a one-bedroom suite upstairs. Then, from 2004 to 2006, they built two brand-new houses, one at 5416 and one at 5420 Sherier Pl.
“I love that the developers honored her wishes,” said Hardy, who is a real estate agent with Compass. “There’s so many of these brand-new spanking houses the developers put up, and they rip all the character and history out of it. I like the fact that this [house] is old but new.”
The two Stoiber and Curtis houses were built without having buyers lined up. Hardy was out walking in the neighborhood when she came across the house at 5420 Sherier under construction.
“It’s got unique architectural features that mirror the local architecture, and you’ve got the deep lot with the carriage house, which is why we fell in love with the house — the carriage house and the history,” Hardy said. “It’s like having two houses on one lot. . . . This is just so unique to find a mini-compound in the middle of the city. We call it our country house in the big city. You can’t believe you live in Washington.”
The house was nearly finished by the time they first saw it.
“If we had to design our own home, we probably would have designed something like this,” Sheldon said.
One day, while Sheldon was out mowing the lawn, an older gentleman stopped by and introduced himself as Michael Marien. He asked to see his old home.
“We also took him over to the Palisades Park,” Sheldon said. “There’s the Ida and Henry Marien bench at the back of the park that looks out on the Potomac [River].”
Marien and his sister had donated the bench in honor of their mother but hadn’t seen it.
Sheldon and Hardy first put the house on the market in February and it immediately went under contract. However, the offer fell through. Then covid-19 struck, and the once empty-nesters had four of their five adult children return home to live with them.
The house proved to be ideal for the pandemic. Although they couldn’t entertain as they once did, with up to 150 guests in the house, the spacious screened porch allowed for small, socially distanced gatherings.
The six-bedroom, six-bathroom, 6,500-square-foot house — with the one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 1,000-square-foot carriage house — on nearly a quarter-acre, is listed at just under $3.3 million.
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