Georgetown Real Estate Maven Dishes on Swingin’ ’60s and Beyond
By April 13, 2023 0 1070•
“As I sit here at my desk, I’m looking at the most magnificent, panoramic view of Georgetown,” said real estate agent Terri Robinson. “I live about a block from the Four Seasons Hotel, and it’s fabulous.”
Not only is Robinson’s home fabulous, her life is also arguably just as extraordinary. Robinson has achieved more than $2 billion in residential and commercial sales and ranks in the top one percent nationwide. Her clients over the years have included investors, major institutions, embassies and corporations. She has been with Long and Foster Real Estate for nearly 20 years.
Pre-Real Estate Years
Robinson’s life wasn’t all about real estate though. She once served as Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) press secretary, first arriving in Washington, D.C., for the newly elected President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball in 1961. Robinson reminisced about that inaugural weekend, chatting about having dinner at Rive Gauche, a French restaurant that stood at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Streets NW and mingling with President Kennedy’s physician.
Robinson believes she was the first female press secretary on Capitol Hill, having first volunteered on Ted Kennedy’s campaign at just 18 years old.
“They made me the National Committee Woman of the Young Democrats when I was 19,” she added. “That’s how I got into politics.”
When asked if she ever felt overwhelmed being that young involved in such big things, Robinson cited being her church organist, directing the church choir and serving as a major in a bagpipe band as sources of confidence.
Originally hailing from Boston, Robinson was immediately drawn to Georgetown for its similar historical nature. Her Bostonian heritage was what made her want to specialize in historic homes when she began her real estate career.
Working and Raising a Family
After she married and the birth of her son, Robinson felt compelled to stay home. She decided to get into the real estate business 52 years ago, citing the flexibility of the profession.
“It really gave women independence, and it gave us equal pay for equal work,” Robinson said. “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take care of my children on my schedule.”
According to Robinson, when she got into real estate, there were only 400 licensed agents in Washington.
They were mostly women older than Robinson, whose children had gone off to college.
“They looked at me in a different way, let’s say, because I was much younger and they were women whose husbands were successful. They just did it really as a part-time position,” Robinson said.
The Swingin’ ’60s—and Their Aftermath
Robinson reminisced about Georgetown in the 1960s, calling it “so much fun.” When The Georgetown Inn opened in 1962, Robinson lived next door to the now deceased Collins Bird, the former manager of the hotel (and husband of Georgetowner writer Mary Bird).
“He would invite me [to the Georgetown Inn] and we would have so much fun,” Robinson recalled. “The Mercury astronauts would stay there—we had a lot of good evenings there having cocktails and just singing a lot.”
Of course, a lot changed after President Kennedy’s 1963 assassination and the 1968 riots.
After the riots, it was hard to keep people in the city. Robinson found herself constantly trying to encourage Washingtonians to stay. A few reasons that worked were the fact that the Kennedy Administration was the first to really stay in the area.
“Especially after Mrs. Kennedy moved to a house in Georgetown that she rented, a lot of people remained in the city,” Robinson added. “Georgetown then, of course, became very appealing.”
Also, Washington was (and still is) home to some of the best private schools in the city. Many are quite close to Georgetown too, like National Cathedral School and St. Albans.
Around that time, Robinson had her own business, Robinson Real Estate, for a dozen years before selling it. She credits real estate developer, banker and philanthropist Leo Bernstein with encouraging her to open Robinson Real Estate.
“I have to thank him,” she added. “The Bernstein family has a great reputation in Georgetown.”
Her real estate sales in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and beyond read like a Who’s Who in Washington, D.C.
In the 1970s, one of Robinson’s most interesting sales was to actress Elizabeth Taylor and her then-husband, Sen. John Warner (R-Va.).
“I did meet Elizabeth Taylor once, and she did have violet eyes,” Robinson said. “That’s why she painted her dressing room violet.”
Robinson has also helped former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and first ladies Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama with their real estate needs.
Georgetown Real Estate
For years, Georgetown was just three-story buildings. Robinson credited the rehabilitation of the neighborhood’s waterfront and construction of Washington Harbour as ringing in a new renaissance of sorts.
“It changed Georgetown tremendously,” she added.
Robinson raved about the new restaurants coming into town every day, seeing people swarming into town on weekends and the neighborhood’s overall revival.
“I think Georgetown’s future is even better than its past,” she said.
Robinson stressed that the real estate market is still very, very strong, inventories are low, and prices are not quite flat but are increasing.
Robinson, who is licensed in four states, believes the area is undervalued. “It’s probably 30 percent of the price of Manhattan [real estate],” she said. “Georgetown—for what you get, what it offers and the proximity to everything, the beauty…I still see it as probably one of the best investments in the country.”
A Proud Grandmother
In addition to still working tirelessly to promote the real estate offerings in the area, Robinson calls herself a proud mother and grandmother. Her son Bill Robinson (a St. Albans graduate) is president of James Patterson Entertainment.
“He has had a very successful career in Hollywood,” Robinson added.
Then there’s Christa Robinson, Terri’s daughter, who is senior vice president of communications for CBS News in New York.
Robinson has three grandchildren, one of which (Max) is currently looking at colleges. His proud grandma is hoping he can get into Georgetown University.
Today, Robinson lives in the West End. More information about her and her listings can be found here.