Holidays in Washington: Tours in Logan Circle, Spring Valley offer glimpse inside luxurious homes

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The Mexican ambassador's home is located on Loughboro Road NW. (photo courtesy of St. Albans School Parents' Association)
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Homeowners in two Northwest neighborhoods will be opening their properties to members of the public for holiday-themed house tours this weekend, offering a glimpse of some of the area’s most luxurious homes and their holiday traditions.

The holiday house tours for both the Logan Circle Community Association and St. Albans School will take place this weekend, with each annual event celebrating more than three decades. Organizers for both fundraisers have been planning their tours for months and expect hundreds of people to pass through the homes they’ll be featuring.

“People are curious about other people’s homes, of course,” said Alison McCubbin, who is in charge of the Logan Circle tour this year. “We have beautiful Victorian homes in the neighborhood, but we also have wonderful modern architecture. People are interested in seeing that.”

McCubbin said one important aspect of the Logan Circle tour is the diversity in the types of houses, which will include Victorian-style homes, beautifully renovated penthouse apartments and a church, as well as a home that was formerly the site of subsidized housing. The styles and architecture are as diverse as the people in Logan Circle, she said.

“The neighborhood is home to so many different kinds of people,” she said. “We have homeowners from all walks of life, ethnicities and sexual orientations.”

This year’s Logan Circle tour will include 10 stops: eight private residences, Studio Theatre and Shiloh Baptist Church. McCubbin said each of the homeowners choose their own floral arrangements from the neighborhood’s Flowers on Fourteenth shop. She said the houses will also be decorated for the holidays as the homeowner chooses, and there will be carolers and other holiday music being played at different locations on the tour.

McCubbin, a real estate agent who has seen a lot of properties in the area, said this is her first year organizing the area’s house tour. Craig Cobine, a member of the community association’s board of advisers, has also done a lot of work organizing this year’s event, McCubbin said.

On the day of the tour, about 70 volunteers will spread out along the route. McCubbin said she expects around 700 people to attend the tour, as that was the number from last year’s event.

The money raised from the Logan Circle house tour will go toward the association’s community initiatives.

One home on the Logan Circle tour will be the condo of Paul Higgins, a local real estate agent who recently did extensive renovations on his modern fifth-floor condo on Church Street.

Higgins said this is the first time that the home he shares with his wife Sarah Gill will be part of the event, although he did attend last year’s tour. He added that he is particularly excited to show off the patio that connects to the lower level of his unit.

This year’s Logan Circle holiday tour will include Paul Higgins’ extensively renovated condo. (photo courtesy of Logan Circle Community Association)

“The patio is the wow factor. People will also be wowed by the kitchen and the dining room area,” he said.

He said that new Porcelanosa tiles on the first level of the two-story condo help set up an industrial look that transitions well into the patio. Pictures of the place “don’t do it justice,” he said.

Tickets are available online at logancircle.org/house-tour up to the day of the tour for $30, but participants will also be able to buy tickets at Studio Theatre the day of the event for $35.

On the same weekend, the St. Albans School Parents’ Association will be holding its own Christmas House Tour for the 35th year. The event serves as the main fundraiser for the Parents’ Association, which uses its money on everything from upgraded educational equipment to bonuses for faculty and staff, according to Susan Harreld, a parent volunteer at the school and a co-chair of this year’s house tour. Organizers hope to raise a net profit of $250,000 from the expected 1,000 people at the event, which includes a boutique and luncheon at the school.

The St. Albans Christmas House tour will feature five homes in the Spring Valley area. Participating homeowners include families with and without ties to the school, Harreld said.

This year’s tour will include the residence of Mexican ambassador, Gerónimo Gutiérrez. The Loughboro Road NW home will feature traditional Mexican holiday decorations including fresh poinsettia flowers, as well as a bronze garden sculpture by Mexican artist Juan R. Soriano called the “Bird With Two Faces,” according to a description of the house for the tour. The house will showcase Mexican holiday traditions and will even have a piñata for the occasion, Harreld said.

Other properties on the tour include the homes of St. Albans alumni and their families, with three of the properties located on Indian Lane NW. Attendees will not only be able to see the homes, but they will see the unique ways that the families choose to decorate.

Many of the families on the tour are well-traveled, which shows in the chosen decor, Harreld said. For example, the homeowners of one featured property display artwork reflective of their travels from South Africa to Argentina to Russia.

The St. Albans tour will include a buffet-style lunch at the school and a Christmas market that will feature more than 50 craft vendors selling goods related to the holidays, Harreld said. Participants will be bused to the first location on the tour and have the option to walk to some of the other stops and back to the school afterward.

Tour tickets tour can be bought online for $40, with tickets for the luncheon costing $20. The tour will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. For details, visit stalbansschool.org/cht.