Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Evermay, also known as the Samuel Davidson House, is a historic house located at 1623 28th Street NW in the Georgetown neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Samuel Davidson was a prominent businessman and landowner in the area that became the District of Columbia. He was one of the "original patentees" -- the 25 landowners who turned over their property to the federal government to create the city.

The mansion was built in 1801 and designed by architect Nicholas King in the Federalist style. The long edge of the house is oriented to the north. Although the narrow west end was originally the main entrance, today it is the north side. The north facade is five bays wide, and the mansion two-and-a-half storys high. There are interior chimneys at the four corners of the structure. There are three dormer windows in the roof, which create the half-story on top. The roof was originally wood shingles, but this was replaced with copper in 1817. Today, the roof is slate.

The house is 54 feet long and 38 feet deep. The first floor consists of four rooms with a central hall. The second floor has a long hall running the length of the south side, with four rooms along the north. Two more rooms exist in the upper story.

All the walls, inside and out, are made of brick in a Flemish-bond pattern. (The way brick is laid is called the "bond", and there are a bazillion ways to lay brick.)

The interior was never really completed by Samuel Davidson, and it underwent several changes before being finished in 1818 by Davidson's son, Lewis Grant Davidson. Lewis also had a service wing built on the east side and connected to the main structure by a hyphen (a fully enclosed, narrow passageway).

John D. McPherson purchased the house from the Davidsons in 1877. That same year, he added a one-story wooden porch across the three bays of the south front, removed the the dormers, rebuilt the service wing, and added a screened porch on the second floor level of the west facade.

F. Lammot Belin purchased the house and restored it in 1923. The interior was completely altered, and the front hall and stairs are the only original features which remain. The gigantic four rooms on the first floor were divided, and several rooms added in the basement. Evermay ended up with 22 rooms, including eight bedrooms, six bathrooms and five half-baths. Bellin also added a gatekeeper's house.

The present dining room is panelled in teak and has twin teak mantles, while the upstairs sitting room is paneled in walnut brought from Avignon, France. At this time, the ground around the house was raised and light wells were installed in front of the basement windows. Belin also radically changed the grounds. Evermay once consisted of more then 15 acres, but 3.5 acres were sold in 1808 and 6.5 acres in the late 1860s. Belin created new gardens to the south. Against the house, he built balustrades and terraces replaced the steep slopes which led to the south and east. A sunporch was added to the east front and the service wing enlarged.

In 1961, Bellin's son, F. Lammont Belin, Jr., replaced the sunporch on the east front an "orangery" -- a brick addition is five bays deep on the east side with a semicircular bay to the south that has three arched windows.

Henry Bellin, Junior's son, added a free-standing artist's studio and a 100-space parking lot. In the 1990s, Bellin rented out Evermay for weddings and parties.

Henry Bellin put Evermay up for sale for $49 million in 2009. It sat empty for three years before Dr. Sachiko Kuno and Dr. Ryuji Ueno, biotech company owners from Japan, bought it for $22 million. It is now used by their S&R Foundation to house famous musicians, given small concerts, and act as a retreat for biotechnology researchers "needing to get away from it all". As a private home, it is not open to the public.

Evermay is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a contributing property to the Georgetown Historic District, a National Historic Landmark.

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