It seems hard to believe in today’s fractious times that Congress ever reached agreement on anything, much less a green and environmentally friendly policy. Yet the Woodland Normanstone neighborhood, which came about as an act of Congress in 1910, reflects that long-ago respect for nature. The neighborhood — noted for its varying elevations, winding roads, old-growth trees and wildlife sightings — is also home to embassies and grand mansions, including the Norman French residence at 2607 31st St. NW.
Built in 1932 for the family of the current owner, it was designed by Joseph A. Parks, who also contributed to the downtown Garfinckel’s department store and an addition to the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building. The seller also says that the home has a further connection to Washington history: Its exterior was constructed with reclaimed bricks that are believed to be connected to the iconic Hay-Adams Hotel.
The five-level home, renovated and expanded in 2011 to 2012, now offers 5,100 square feet of living space with five bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths and soaring cathedral ceilings. Outside, there’s extensive naturalistic landscaping with irrigation systems, along with a two-car garage fronted by a slate courtyard and terraced cutting gardens. It is on the market for $3,500,000.
Similar to Tudors, Norman French homes feature sharply pitched rooflines, half-timbering and arched doorways. Here the timbering is limited to narrow strips of stone inlaid in groups of three around the entryway. Set back from the street on a lawn dotted with evergreens and flowering shrubs, it presents a trim facade with a decorative iron gate leading to the garage and traditional black door, which contrasts well with the white-painted brick.
Inside, a long but narrow foyer is bracketed on the left by a half-bath with cherry-blossom-inspired wallpaper and a deep hall closet on the right. Farther along is a step-down formal yet cozy living room. It has a gas-powered fireplace with a marble surround and classic mantel, plus a wall of (original) pickled pine paneling with built-in shelves and cabinets framing a front-facing window.
Up two steps from the living room is the formal dining room, where a mirrored wall expands the generous dimensions. Large windows, including a bay window with built-in window seat, overlook the back deck and trees beyond.
Next door is an inviting U-shaped eat-in kitchen with a breakfast bar, an ergonomically arrayed cook/prep space and a pantry area that opens onto a deck just right for outdoor grilling. White wood cabinets with brass or white knobbed hardware, white tile backsplash, dark granite counters and lots of windows create a light and airy feel. Stainless appliances include a Frigidaire French door refrigerator/freezer; GE Profile six-burner range, double convection oven and microwave; and Vinotemp under-counter wine cooler.
Extending off the kitchen is the abundantly lit family room that’s large enough for a baby grand piano. Part of the 2011 expansion, this room features a Douglas fir post and beam design, walls of windows, and skylights that make a nice transition to the wraparound deck outside with its view of the garden two levels down.
A spiral staircase takes you to the first lower level, where there’s an office with three oversize windows and private glass door to the outside; a bedroom with small en-suite bath; a rec or media room; and access to the garage.
A second lower level, ideally suited to be an au pair suite or full guest apartment, is directly below the office suite and accessible from the main staircase in the hall. It includes a large work or entertaining space with garden access; a bedroom with built-ins; and small kitchen and bath.
Above the main floor of the house are two more levels, both comprising bedrooms. The first of these includes the master, with a wall of mirrors and integrated closets; an adjacent dressing room with two full walls of built-in closets and cabinets; and an en-suite bath with Italian tiles in restful shades of sand and sea blue-green. Down the hall is a second bedroom with pine paneling and a decorative fireplace; another full bath; and a third bedroom with a spiral staircase that leads up to a sleep loft and access to the fully finished attic.
Located on a quiet cul-de-sac near the U.S. Naval Observatory, the house is conveniently situated near Woodley Park’s commercial district and Metro station, the National Zoo and the Washington National Cathedral. The neighborhood is surrounded by Rock Creek Park and the residential neighborhoods of Woodley Park and Massachusetts Avenue Heights.