Neighbors Tour N Street Home of Jackie Kennedy, Yolande Fox


It is one of Georgetown great storied homes on one of Georgetown’s great storied streets.

For some, it could be called the Beall-Laird-Peter-Baker-Kennedy-Fox House. The New England Federal at 3017 N St. NW was built in 1794 and designated a National Historic Landmark.

Georgetowners of today got a chance to tour this mansion of many means June 22. On view was its faded glory amid the decor and designs of what is described as a fixer-upper or pocket sale by Washington Fine Properties.

Its pedigree of owner-personages is formidable: Thomas Beall, who build the first house on the street, once known as Gay, was the grandson of Ninian Beall, one of Georgetown’s founders. George Peter, brother of Thomas who build Tudor Place, was the son of the first mayor of Georgetown, Robert Peter. During the War of 1812, George Peter led an artillery group. One of his militiamen was Francis Scott Key.

In the 20th century, Secretary of War Newton Baker bought the large house, which needed quite a few repairs in the then-run down neighborhood of Georgetown in 1916. Baker said it was the only large house he could afford.

But it was in 1964 when the handsome house become truly famous. Widow and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy bought the house after having lived for a few months in Averell Harriman’s house across the street. Her fame and the curiosity of well-wishers and tourists pushed her and her family away — out of Washington, D.C., and to New York City. Tour buses were clogging N Street.

In 1975, the house was purchased by Yolande Betbeze Fox — Miss America 1951 — who was known for her beauty, brains and strong opinions as well as her famous friends. Fox died on Feb. 22 of this year and was described by many as “the last of the Georgetown grand dames,” chief among them Georgetown chronicler and news producer Carol Joynt, who was her friend. Indeed, the life of Fox is quite the tale and can hold its own to that of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Some of Fox’s personal effects are still in house — certainly the large colorful lithograph of her in the main parlor is arresting, as well as the smaller photo of her in the foyer that has an Annie Leibovitz quality to it. Playful murals in the dining room depict men and women in arcadian scenes — with faces of the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo — and are a nod to the grand dame’s showbiz side. Books remain in the library, as do items in a bathroom and bedroom.

There are empty rooms, of course, but the top of the house is not to be missed. So said architect Outerbridge Horsey to those just walking in for a look-around. The widow’s walk — or cupola — offers views of the Washington Monument, the Potomac River and, yes, the Kennedy Center.

Georgetown neighbors were wide-eyed — and a little quiet at the sight of a tired architectural gem of a home (Hugh Jacobsen led its renovation in the late 1960s). Having another house with a pool in the neighborhood, Fox did few redesigns to her N Street home. Nevertheless, if ever a house deserved the phrase, “good bones,” this is it. The architects and designers in attendance seemed full of ideas.

Neighbors glimpsed pieces of Fox’s wide-ranging, energetic life — whether with presidents, princes or opera stars. At the end, she was their Georgetown neighbor, too.

“She was one of the last of the ’60s Hollywood-Palm Beach-Washington celebrities,” real estate agent Jamie Peva told Joynt. “The things she would say were so fascinating. But she usually wanted to talk about her family and friends, so you felt lucky when you could get the other stuff out of her. For me, trying to get her to talk about Miss America was near impossible.”

The 7,000-square-foot, six-bedroom brick house is being listed by Peva and Nancy Taylor Bubes of Washington Fine Properties for $9.75 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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