Category: DeSibour

The Exquisite Thomas T. Gaff House

Built for a Cincinnati industrialist in 1904 and designed by the prominent NYC society architect Bruce Price and the equally prominent Washington,DC society architect Jules Henri de Sibour, this house is strikingly beautiful with its steep Mansard roof, strong visual contrast between the deep red brick walls and white stone quoins, and compact yet soaring massing.

As architecturally impressive as the exterior is, it is outdone by the interior with its rich wood paneling and the sense of movement from space to space, and grand ballroom.

The building is now the Embassy of Columbia’s ambassador’s residence.

De Sibour designed many grand residences in the Embassy Row neighborhood, including 1785 Mass. Ave.,the former headquarters of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. (photograph by (c) Bill Lebovich,2016)Thomas T. Gaff House (1).jpg

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1785 Massachusetts Ave.,NW

Designed by Jules Henri deSibour, one of Washington,DC’s finest architects of the early 20th century, 1785 was home to Andrew Mellon when he was Secretary of Treasury. It is believed he occupied the entire top floor.  The British Art Dealer Lord Duveen rented the floor below and displayed his art collection.  He invited Mellon to view it and the approach worked.  Mellon bought the collection, which became the basis of National Gallery of Art.

The building was the headquarters of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  As the Trust was selling the building, the Trust hired me to photograph the building for the HABS Collection at the Library of Congress.  I took more than 200  4 x5 black and white archival processed negatives and an archival print of each negative.

The American Enterprise Institute bought the building, joining Brookings, John Hopkins,and Carnegie Institute as some of the think tanks along this section of Massachusetts Ave., between 17th and 18th Streets.

The first photo (black and white) is from April 2014.  The second photo is from November 2016.DC-265 7.jpg1785 Mass AEI.jpg

National Trust for Historic Preservation’s former headquarters

Designed by Jules Henri de Sibour, an American architect who studied at Yale,but had a French father and was born in France.  Much of the best early 20th century buildings in downtown DC, and along Massachusetts Ave near DuPont Circle, and his country club in Chevy Chase,MD were the work of de Sibour,who died relatively young in 1938.

This photo is of the chimney cap DC-265-dups 18.jpgat the south end of the Mass. Ave. facade.  Almost all his buildings look like they would have been equally comfortable along any Parisian boulevard.

He was also a jock and clubman at Yale.

Architectural Tours

Yesterday,I had the pleasure of giving tours of Dupont Circle to two groups of docents from the Portland Art Museum.  They were enthusiastic,asked good questions,and were fun to be with.  Thanks to Nicole to organizing everything.IMG_0018.jpgDC-265-009.jpgDSCN2187.jpg

Former National Trust Headquarters

April 18,2016 photo update. Being converted to headquarters of American Enterprise Institute.IMG_1467 (1).jpg

Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon lived here before World War II, and British art dealer Lord Duveen moved into an apartment below the Mellons, and displayed his art collection to entice Mellon to buy it and he did.