Fascinating houses, history, art, and antiques – the Capitol Hill Restoration Society House and Garden Tour presents it all in an easily walkable loop. Each property offers something special, from Asian art and decor to original European and American art, historic photographs, and antique furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries. Some properties have clever features like a double-sided fireplace, a circular staircase, or gardens designed by notable landscape architects.
The oldest house on the tour may be 19 Second St. NE, built in 1853. The light-filled floorplan showcases two working fireplaces, an 1850 American mahogany table with lion paw feet, memorabilia from a career in media, and a miniature Austrian village. The large kitchen opens to an evergreen garden with ivy-covered walls, crape myrtles, and a tall magnolia.
Surprises mark 330 A St. NE, constructed in the 1870s. It looks small from the outside, but inside opens up to show expansive rooms, a beautiful kitchen, and three bedrooms, each with its own bath. The living room is filled with original art, African artifacts, and an antique rocking horse found in an old barn.
A stately, three-story brick house built in 1906, 506 A St. NE retains many fine original details, complemented by Japanese shoji screens and Persian carpets. Visitors will enjoy the art and antiques from Asia and the Middle East and the centuries-old food preparation items still used by the family.
For a classic 1890s brick rowhouse with tall ceilings , 120 Fifth St. SE is a fine example, with a beautiful wooden staircase, original fireplaces, and artwork. Of the two upstairs bedroom suites, one has a large closet, gas fireplace, and antique vanity. The furnishings feature whimsical pieces collected by the owner, including a beautiful table that opens to reveal a commode. Next door is 122 Fifth St. SE, built in 1877. Successive residents added rooms in 1908 and between 1915 and 1923. The house features original ceiling medallions, an Eastlake sideboard, and a Hoosier baking cabinet.
Guests entering 123 Third St. SE, built in 1874 or earlier, will view a long hallway leading to the kitchen and garden beyond. The living room is furnished with a dazzling and eclectic collection of vintage and contemporary art. The front bedroom, with office space and a view toward the Capitol, has colorful, sponge-painted walls and a Botero print. A suite at the rear of the house offers a comfy oasis for house guests.
The tour has four houses on East Capitol Street SE. Those at 705 and 707, built in 1876-77, are two in a row of identical two-story, three-bay, flat-front, brick Italianate houses with raised English basements, cast-iron front steps, decorative double doors with bolection molding, segmental arched-windows with brick-hooded crowns, and wide, overhanging eaves with bracketed cornice. Both houses are spectacular, still similar in many ways, yet adapted by a succession of owners to suit individual needs and preferences. Note the inviting back porch and patio at 707 and the dramatic view from the third-floor deck at 705.
Of far more recent vintage, 620 East Capitol St. NE was built in 1990 and remodeled by award-winning architect Robert M. Guerney in an industrial modern style, with glass blocks, a canted wall, and two upper-level decks. Built in 1995, 500 East Capitol St. NE was designed by local architect Eric Colbert, with garden by Gary Hallewell. The space is perfect for the gatherings so important to the owners, a priority reflected in an art collection with family connections.
Two unusual buildings, Naval Lodge No. 4 and Florida House, are on the tour. Called the Naval Lodge because many of its early members worked for the Navy, 330 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, built in 1895, is the oldest continually operating Masonic lodge in the District. A tour highlight is the lodge room decorated with colorful images from Egyptian mythology. Florida House, 1 Second St. NE, constructed in 1891, belongs to the people of Florida and offers them a happy stopover during their explorations of Washington. Tourgoers enter from Second Street into airy rooms featuring works by prominent Florida artists, antique furnishings (a sideboard, tall-case George III clock from the early 19th century, and a grand pier mirror).
On Sunday, May 14, stop by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 301 A St. SE, for refreshments, and on both tour days drop in at the Capitol Hill Hotel, 200 C St. SE, to enjoy their hospitality and rest facilities.
There will be free, guided, outdoor mini-tours of the alley dwellings on Terrace Court NE. The eight houses, built in 1889 as rental properties, have a fascinating history.
The house tour runs on Saturday, May 13, 4 to 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 14, from noon to 5 p.m. Ticket price is $35 in advance, $40 on tour weekend. Find tour details and ticket sales information at www.chrs.org/house-and-garden-tour/.
Tickets are also available at:
- Eastern Market on Saturdays and Sundays
- Appalachian Spring at Union Station
- Berkshire Hathaway Eastern Market
- Coldwell Banker Capitol Hill
- Groovy DC Cards & Gifts
- Hill Center
- Hill’s Kitchen
- Labyrinth Games & Puzzles
And at any of the houses during tour hours (cash and check only).