By JANET QUIGLEY
Looking for home design ideas, an escape into 1800s history, or a classic way to celebrate Mother’s Day? The Capitol Hill House and Garden Tour has it all. This tour of 12 spectacular homes and gardens in Washington’s largest historic district attracts 1,200 visitors each year. It has been offered by preservation advocate, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, each Mother’s Day since 1956 to celebrate Capitol Hill’s historic heritage and lifestyle, and has long been a favorite way for mothers to spend quality time with their loved ones.
Highlighting 19th-century homes in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, the tour route is a walkable 1.2 miles between Pennsylvania Avenue, South Carolina Avenue, First and Fourth Streets, all in the Southeast quadrant.
This year’s tour, themed “Old Traditions, New Beginnings,” showcases an area that developed in the mid- to late-1800s and today thrives as an active and diverse community. Much of it is built on the grounds of the former Duddington Manor, which was established around 1663 and in the late 1700s was the largest and most valuable estate in what is now the District of Columbia. Among the homes on the tour are four houses around the charming block of Duddington Place, S.E., and two homes on E Street, S.E., which were built on the Duddington orchards. Other homes on the tour range in size from a one-bedroom alley dwelling on Rumsey Court to a six-bedroom, 6.5 bath house built in 2004, as well as the newly renovated Capitol Hill Day School’s 1898 Dent building.
For more than a half century, tour goers have used this opportunity to check out restorations and renovations, to see what is new in interior design, to gather ideas for their own historic homes and to spend quality time with their families and friends. In addition to many kitchen and bath renovations and additions, the 2013 Capitol Hill House and Garden tour offers:
- Original paintings and extensive interior restorations by artist and friend to social causes Don Patron, including wood paneling and Tiffany stained glass rescued from Union Station; Cartier light fixtures; and restored William Morris wallpaper, at 209 C St.
- An 1898 house rescued from ruin and remarkably restored by Bert Kubli and Mark McElreath at 521 2nd St., featuring clever uses of space such as a Murphy bed with hidden drawers.
- Other creative approaches to maximizing space — from cabinets over closets, baseboard-level kitchen drawers, blinds set inside double-paned doors and a rare triangular commode — at 126 E St. and 221 Duddington Place.
- Solar panels that have cut energy bills significantly at 101 E St. and 521 2nd St.
- A colorful private garden cultivated by a degreed horticulturalist at 226 South Carolina Ave.
- Spectacular views of the Capitol from 138 E St., 101 Duddington Pl. and the roof deck of 518 1st St.
These are but a few of the features awaiting visitors on the Capitol Hill tour this year.
The event begins with a twilight tour of homes from 4-7 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 and continues 12-5 p.m. on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12. A refreshment break will be hosted by American Legion Post 8.
Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on tour weekend at chrs.org and the Hill Center at 921 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E. Sponsored by National Capital Bank, Washington Fine Properties, Riverby Books, Schneiders of Capitol Hill and THE SMITH TEAM at Prudential PenFed Realty. METRO: Capitol South and Eastern Market.
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