October 20, 2017 at 5:16 pm EDT | by Mark Lee
Roaming residences
Bloomingdale House Tour, gay news, Washington Blade

Visitors gather at last year’s Bloomingdale House Tour. (Photo courtesy Bloomingdale Civic Association)

Bloomingdale House Tour & Reception
Saturday, Oct. 28
10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Check-in: Tyber Creek Wine Bar & Kitchen (First and T streets, N.W.)
$30 in advance; $35 at event
Tickets available at Windows Cafe & Market (First and Rhode Island, N.W.)
(Rain date is Oct. 29)

Next weekend offers an opportunity to explore the Bloomingdale neighborhood in northwest D.C., one of the city’s historic environs. The area, continuing a revitalization renaissance of more than a decade, is home to a growing number of gay and lesbian couples, families and singles, as many modern-era LGBT residents shift eastward from legacy locales of Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Shaw and U Street.

The sixth biennial Bloomingdale House Tour & Reception on Saturday, Oct. 28, features multiple components throughout the day. Sponsored by the Bloomingdale Civic Association, the event is entitled “Victorian Secrets & Modern Truths” and is, according to 30-year resident and event chair Bertha Holliday, inspired by both past and future.

Bloomingdale is a compact geographic sliver bounded by North Capitol Street west to Second Street, and from Florida Ave. north to Michigan Ave. and McMillan Reservoir. Nestled between the Shaw, LeDroit Park, Truxton Circle and Eckington neighborhoods, the area is noted for Victorian, Colonial Revival and Queen Anne row homes.

“The house tour is not just about the interiors and architectural charm of century-old homes,” Holliday says. “It is also about celebrating Bloomingdale’s modern truths — the willingness of residents to collectively invest hundreds of millions of dollars to thoughtfully renovate the interiors for today’s needs and lifestyles, and reinvent Bloomingdale as a stable, welcoming, socially inclusive and economically diverse neighborhood.”

House tour activities include interactive architecture and design workshops conducted by Bloomingdale architects and designers, initiating with a multi-media presentation on the area’s design history by neighborhood resident and architect Ahmet Kilic beginning at 11 a.m.

A self-guided tour of eight homes representing the neighborhood’s most distinguished architectural contributions traditional in style or modern by renovation runs from 1-5 p.m. The tour is followed by a social and networking reception from 4-7 p.m. at a recently converted firehouse restaurant and bar. Admission to the reception for those unable to attend the tour is $10 at the door.

Participants receive a souvenir program booklet that includes a special section on the “History of Arts and Letters in Bloomingdale” with descriptions of past and present neighborhood cultural luminaries and artists.

Diversely populated by longtime residents and newer arrivals, the rich tapestry of locals can be seen traversing the neighborhood and congregating at popular spots such as Big Bear Café at First and R streets. Other prominent restaurant-bar standouts include the Pub and the People, at North Capitol and R streets, and the nearby Old Engine 12, the former firehouse dating from 1897 hosting the post-tour reception.

At the center of the approximately 20-square-block neighborhood is a notably public-familiar hospitality hub at First Street and Rhode Island Ave. Popular dining and drinking venues include Boundary Stone, El Camino, Crisp Kitchen+Bar, Red Hen, Tyber Creek Wine Bar & Kitchen, Aroi, Showtime Lounge, Windows Café and Market, Bacio Pizzeria and Sylvan Café and Bakery.

The tour is a community fundraising event. Proceeds go to college scholarships for Bloomingdale youth and neighborhood improvement projects. Hundreds attend each year.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkLeeDC. He can be reached at ourbusinessmatters@gmail.com

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