Friday, May 1, 2015


I did a Wikipedia article on Nathan C. Wyeth, the man who designed the West Wing of the White House, the Oval Office, and a bunch more in Washington, D.C. He was considered one of the finest architects of the first three decades of the 20th century, and many of his residences serve as embassies today.

Looing for a picture of Wyeth, I stumbled on something fascinating....

In late 1929, a group of wealthy Washingtonians -- including Senator Frederick H. Gillett, Colonel Reginald S. Huidekoper, and Navy Commander Paul H. Bastedo -- decided to build palatial homes on Whitehaven Street NW, which was just behind the then-under-construction British Embassy. Wyeth designed all but one of the five mansions -- all of which were in the Georgian architectural style, to fit aesthetically with the nearby embassy. (Architect Frederick H. Brooke designed the fifth house here.) The block already contained the McCormick House, a 1908 mansion designed by John Russell Pope for diplomat Robert Sanderson McCormick.

3055 Whitehaven was built for Commander Bastedo, Naval Aide to President Woodrow Wilson. (Trivia: From 1908 to 1910, he served aboard the USS Montana.) The Bastedos owned the house until 1941. It passed through two more set of hands until prominent D.C. real estate developer and construction company owner Charles H. Tompkins purchased it in 1949. In February 1953, it was purchased by Gerard Barnes Lambert, president of the Gillette Safety Razor Company and co-founder of the Warner–Lambert pharmaceutical company.

Some time around 1957, the Lamberts transferred ownership of the house to their daughter, Rachel Lambert "Bunny" Mellon. She and her husband, Paul Mellon (heir to the Mellon Bank fortune and one of the richest men in America) were avid art collectors. The Mellons used the home to display their vast collection, and puchased 3100 Whitehaven Street NW (next door) to live in while viewing their private museum.

The Mellons sold the house in 2001 to Republican campaign advisor Wayne L. Berman for $4,836,000 ($6,441,032 in 2015 dollars). The house went on the market in 2012 with an asking price of $20 million ($20,545,007 in 2015 dollars). It never sold. It was taken off the market in 2014 after the asking price dropped to $9.9 million.

3055 Whitehaven has 13,000 square feet of living space. There are 10 bedrooms, seven full baths, two half-bath, a grand reception hall with marble floors, a formal drawing room, a formal dining room, a library, a gourmet kitchen (remodeled in 2001), a morning room, and an upstairs family room. The English gardens in the rear of house have views of the British Embassy.

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