Mapping Georgetown: Spy a Spy’s Home on the Georgetown House Tour

One of the great features of the arrival of spring in Georgetown is the Georgetown House Tour, to be held this year on April 22. So many intriguing details about Georgetown’s colorful and historic past can be explored up close.

On this year’s tour, you won’t want to miss the home of Rick and Susan English. In fact, you might even want to don your “spook”-iest trench coat and sunglasses, in the spirit of their home’s mysterious Cold War story.

Between Washington sneaking up the Potomac, Herring Hill providing refuge for the Underground Railroad, and now A Spy House on the Georgetown House Tour, we’ve got all kinds of tiptoeing-around stories. So, pour yourself a cup of tea with a little splash and cozy up to this week’s Mapping Georgetown story!

Background Brief from the Agency’s Files: The English’s

Rick and Susan English have lived on and off in the Washington D.C. area for over 20 years, ten years of that time in Georgetown. In 2005 Rick and Susan’s previous home at 1412 28th St NW was also on The Georgetown House Tour. Susan’s working career was spent as a commercial architect, interior designer and as a VP/Manager for major commercial architectural firms such as Gensler and HOK. Rick was in sales and sales management for a variety of firms including Knoll, Herman Miller, and Interface Flooring.

The English’s Mapping Georgetown Story

The English’s story-map. Courtesy Mapping Georgetown.

Spy House!

From the day we moved into 1308 [29th St.] in 2019 the story was that our house was owned by Frank Wisner, the CIA director of covert operations back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. At first we doubted this, but I have now verified it, and in fact he and his wife Peggy had this house on the 1949 Georgetown House Tour. The next owner was, Allen W. Dulles, who held the covert ops position prior to Wisner and while living at 1308 in the early 1950s was appointed by President Eisenhower to the position of CIA Director. Finally a career foreign service officer and later Ambassador, Matthew Looram, owned the house and he and his wife also had it on the Georgetown House Tour in the mid-fifties.

We believe that after these owners, the house became a CIA training facility. This to me was ‘verified’ when I read that a prominent neighbor at that time at 2900 N St NW, Lorraine Cooper, wife of former U.S. Ambassador and Kentucky senator, John Sherman Cooper, identified to Mike Mansfield, then Senate majority leader, that she had identified a house in Georgetown that she knew was being used for a CIA training house. Upon investigation it was discovered that there was such a house but that the Russians were surveilling it so the CIA closed up and moved to another house.

When we moved in we found several pieces of “evidence’ that seemed to support this possibility. Firstly, a phone box in the basement of our house that could have serviced a small office building.

Secondly enough old style non-electrical cabling in the basement to have supported that same small building. Finally, the locks on both of the two tiny rooms on the 3rd floor had the large Yale locks that are the size of a fist and required a key to unlock from the OUTSIDE.

Notes from the English’s:

Apparently the ‘house captain’ for our home this year, Ann LaPort, found the house tour brochure of the 1949 tour when the Wisner’s held it open. The description in the brochure was taken almost word-for-word from this 1944 book.

The page I included was the only one I could find online from the Heymann’s 2003 book, ‘The Georgetown Ladies’ Social Club”:

Thank you, Susan and Rick for all of your generous support and efforts! We look forward to the opportunity to view your lovely home!

To learn more about the Mapping Georgetown project, visit–georgetown/.

To submit your Georgetown recollections to Mapping Georgetown, visit  or visit the Georgetown Public Library to pick up a physical map-story form to fill out.

Marilyn Butler can be reached at

More about the Georgetown House tour at



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