Who Lives Here

March 11, 2015

Ambitious Georgetown resident Frances Holuba is one of the youngest staffers on the National Security Council at the White House. Holuba is a genuine Jill-of-all-trades as a policy expert, fashionista, athlete (she used to play lacrosse), philanthropist and more. Jack to this Jill is Giuseppe Lanzone, co-owner of the Peruvian Brothers food truck and a U.S. Olympic rower. Holuba resides on Q Street near 31st. When she’s not in Georgetown, she can be found bustling around downtown near the White House or dining at one of her favorite haunts, Estadio, near Logan Circle.

Power couple Michael and Susan Pillsbury live close by, near the corner of O and 30th Streets. A seasoned foreign-policy expert, Michael recently published “The Hundred-Year Marathon,” a book on China’s superpower ambitions, while Susan has become well known in the community for her philanthropy. The couple’s home has been a mainstay of the Georgetown Garden Tour and has been featured, along with the Asian art collection within, in Washington Life magazine.

According to the New Republic, Robert Allbritton “reshaped the way we follow politics” as a founder and publisher of Politico.
Chairman and CEO of Allbritton Communications, the media mogul sold a number of ABC stations in the D.C. area and elsewhere last year. Allbritton also served as CEO of Riggs National Corporation, the parent of D.C.-based Riggs Bank, which merged with PNC in 2005. Robert and his wife Elena, a dermatologist practicing with Braun Dermatology, live in the Bowie-

Servier House on Q Street near Tudor Place. The couple hosts a garden brunch at their home around the time of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner every year, drawing in some of the most powerful players in national politics.

Featured Property

February 25, 2015

3120 N Street NW

Located in the heart of Georgetown’s prestigious East Village, this grand, sun-filled Victorian is a Georgetown classic. With four bedrooms and four full baths, it features well-proportioned rooms, 10-foot ceilings on all floors, exquisite moldings, three wood-burning fireplaces, intimate balconies with garden views and garage parking. The home’s sophisticated and urbane setting – offering breathtaking views of the Kennedy Center, the monuments and the Rosslyn skyline – is just a short stroll from shopping, dining and cultural attractions, as well as from varied transportation options and the new vibrancy of downtown D.C.

Offered at $4,150,000
TTR Sotheby’s International Realty
Gary Wicks
202-486-8393
202-333-1212

Le Décor: Winter Lighting to Warm the Home

February 12, 2015

Good lighting is universally appealing and vital for warding off winter’s gloom. We’ve rounded up a mix of stylish contenders, from classic to whimsical, playful and sophisticated, that will warm up your home in all seasons.

1. This vintage birdcage chandelier, complete with hand-wrought iron and faceted crystal glass, exudes whimsy and fantasy. Starting at $1,850. Restoration Hardware.

2. This sculptural Moravian star has gilded iron details and frosted glass, delivering a playful yet stylish sentiment. $1,495. Serena and Lily.

3. This atrium glass lamp is crafted of mouth-blown glass and can be filled with all your favorite objects, from corks to flowers or sea glass. $159-$179. Pottery Barn.

4. The original George Nelson bubble lamps have been a mark of contemporary cool and simplicity since 1947. Starting at $269. Modernica.

5. Evoking fields of golden grain blowing in the breeze, these bundled wheat sconces bring a touch of refined, natural glamor into the home. $395 for the set. Neiman Marcus.

6. Sleek, sophisticated and masculine, this “grasshopper” lamp is equipped with a powder-coated steel shade, a solid brass frame and a fabric-covered cord. $495. Design Within Reach.

7. A handmade Wyoming antler chandelier by Russell Johnson Imports is a vintage objet that will hang beautifully above large dining tables, kitchen islands or in libraries adorned with treasures from around the world. $2,879. One Kings Lane. [gallery ids="118266,118240,118247,118231,118253,118272,118260" nav="thumbs"]

The Antiques Addict: Early American Pottery


Governor Gooch had a secret.

Virginia Governor William Gooch had good reason to hide the truth in his 1732 annual report to the British Board of Trade. The colonies were forbidden to engage in manufacturing any products in direct competition with those imported from England, except for those that would benefit the mother country.

Yet, he and his government had long encouraged local entrepreneurs, including a Yorktown merchant known as William Rogers.

An enterprising brewer and businessman, Rogers’s pottery was one of Virginia’s most prosperous businesses, producing 23 types of redware and stoneware, which were shipped up and down the East Coast. Since the quality of Rogers’s vessels was comparable to anything imported from England, and clearly posed a conflict, Gooch maintained his deception until the end of the decade.

The most utilitarian pottery available, redware was one of the first necessities that the colonists made themselves. It’s no wonder Governor Gooch was covert about this flourishing industry. Redware pots were used like plastic is used today. They were comparably cheap, plentiful and locally crafted, using clay with high iron content (this is what gives redware its characteristic red or orange hue).

Redware jugs, jars, plates, bowls and tavern ware of various kinds were used throughout 17th- and 18th-century America. If the housewife needed it, the potter made it. Unfortunately, the potter, or anyone who regularly used redware vessels, commonly developed nervous disorders, like palsy and tremors, associated with lead poisoning.

There are multitudes of contemporary pieces on the market that are being advertised as antiques. Hence, collectors should educate themselves to be able to discern fakes.

Examine the back of the piece to see if it is blackened, which would indicate that it was used on the hearth and is likely an old piece. Since tallow or fat leaches into clay, smelling the piece for faint remnant odors of either can help determine whether it’s an older item. A glaze with a glassy quality is a sign of a modern piece.

Stoneware was developed due to the fear of poisoning from lead-glazed earthenware. Made of dense, blended clays, salt-glazed and then fired to vitrification, stoneware was imported to the colonies from England and Germany.

Early American redware potters rarely inscribed their names in the soft clay, but stoneware quite often bears the maker’s mark. Crocks, jugs, butter churns – chiefly utility items – were typically decorated with freehand cobalt decoration of flora, fauna and, occasionally, military motifs. An urn featuring Civil War soldiers recently sold at auction for $350,000.

The mellow, golden-colored ware is a type of stoneware made of fine yellow clay that was found along riverbanks in New Jersey and other Mid-Atlantic states. Since the yellow clay contains a lower level of iron, causing it to vitrify at higher temperatures than red clay, yellow ware items were much harder and more durable for kitchen use.

The collector can determine whether an older piece is American yellow ware by tapping it: American pieces will thud; English yellow ware will ring. It was a popular choice for kitchen use up until the 1940s, when homemakers began to be seduced by pieces made of modern materials.

The south has a wide and diverse 200-year history of pottery, covering multiple states. Southern redware and stoneware research has made significant strides in the last 25 years. Entire new schools of pottery have been discovered, uncovering new forms and traditions.

The pottery of the “Great Road” represents some newer discoveries of the southern pottery tradition. The Great Road, considered part of the “Great Wagon Road” initiating in Philadelphia, was the primary route from Roanoke, Va., to eastern Tennessee.

A wonderful piece of antique American folk pottery, whether it is redware, stoneware or yellow ware, has its own distinct past. A potter – who probably dug his own clay, mixed his own glaze recipe and fired his pieces in old wood-fired kilns – made each piece, and every piece tells its own unique story.

An antiques dealer for more than 25 years, Michelle Galler owns Antiques, Whimsies & Curiosities, based in Georgetown and in Washington, Va. Contact her at antiques.and.whimsies@gmail.com to suggest a topic for a future column. [gallery ids="101984,135444,135446" nav="thumbs"]

Bringing the Hammer Down

February 11, 2015

Final selling prices for last month’s featured Auction Block items.

Bonhams

Shamrock V, 1995, oil on canvas
John Mecray (b. 1939)
Auction Date: Jan. 30
Estimate: $60,000 – $80,000
Final Selling Price: $62,500

Sotheby’s

Bacchante with Grapes Carried by Two Bacchantes and a Bacchant, dated 1800
Claude Michel, called Clodion (1738-1814)?
Auction Date: Jan. 29
Estimate: $600,000 – $1,000,000
Final Selling Price: $2,853,000

Christie’s

Tete de Chevre de Profil, 1950
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Auction Date: Feb. 6
Estimate: $3,000 – $4,600
Final Selling Price: $15,310

Freeman’s

Diamond, Sapphire, Platinum and 14ct Rose Gold Spray Brooch
Torre Vincent?
Auction Date: Feb. 9
Estimate: $1,400 – $1,800??
Final Selling Price: $1,875 (buyer’s premium included)

Doyle New York

St. Sebastian, oil on canvas?
Follower of Jacopo Tintoretto?
Auction Date: Jan. 28
Estimate: $3,000 – $5,000??
Final Selling Price: $16,250 (buyer’s premium included)

The Auction Block


Doyle New York

Pair of Chinese Cloisonné Elephants, early 20th century
Estimate: $70,000 – $90,000
Auction Date: March 16

Part of Doyle’s Asian Works of Art Auction, each elephant stands four-square on a rectangular base, the head held low with the trunk curled under between long, gently curved tusks. They are both set with a saddle and elaborate trappings, supporting a vase with a pearl and flame finial. This beautiful décor looms large: height 72 inches, length 47 ½ inches, width 24 inches.

Christie’s London

18ct Gold Sapphire and Coloured Diamond ‘Chiocciola’ Ring
De Grisogono
Estimate: $4,000 – $4,600
Auction Date: March 4

This opulent ring is of stylized crossover design, the single terminal set ‘en tremblant’ with briolette-cut yellow and orange sapphires, to a brilliant-cut yellow diamond looped surround and single shoulder. It will be part of Christie’s London’s popular Jewelery Auction.

Bonhams

Japanesque Tea Caddy, c. 1880
Hammered Sterling Silver and Mixed-Metal
Tiffany & Co.
Estimate: $12,000 – $18,000
Auction Date: March 4

This wonderful hammered tea caddy, with gilded interior, has a body and cover decorated with applied vines, dragonflies and gourds in copper and gold, along with ‘mokume’ butterflies. It will be part of Bonham’s Auction of Fine Furniture, Silver, Decorative Arts and Clocks.

Sotheby’s

Theatre Des Errements III, 1963, gouache on paper
Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
Estimate: $300,000 – $400,000
Auction Date: March 5

Sotheby’s March 5 Contemporary Curated auction will highlight a diverse range of works from the brightest stars of the post-war and contemporary periods. Examples from the Ab-Ex and Color Field artists will be offered side-by-side with important works from the Pop and Pictures Generation, as well as cutting-edge visionaries of today. This Dubuffet piece is sure to attract a great deal of attention.

The Antiques Addict: Hooked Rugs, America’s Indigenous Folk Art

January 29, 2015

Early American hooked rugs were a craft of poverty. Prior to 1780, most floors in American homes were bare, especially among the poor. Painted floors or stenciled floor cloths were found in the homes of those who were slightly better off. Only the very wealthy had the means to import carpeting, since the American textile industry was in its infancy.

After 1830, as factories in America began making wool carpets for the rich, having a floor covering became a symbol of domestic and socioeconomic well-being. This was a period when Americans were looking beyond the bare necessities, trying to make their homes more livable.

As the fashion for floor coverings took hold, poorer women began ransacking their scrap bags for materials to employ in creating their own floor coverings. Their work was laborious and slow, hooking rag strips through tightly woven linen or hemp backings using a special tool adapted from the sailor’s marlinspike.

Then, after 1850, trade tariffs relaxed and coffee, grain and feed started to arrive wrapped in jute burlap sacks made in India. This free fabric was strong, but loosely woven enough to allow the rag scraps to be easily hooked through it into the characteristic loops.

The women who made the early rugs also designed them, borrowing many of the motifs from the Oriental rugs imported by the wealthy. A New England peddler noticed the rug-hooking trend and saw an opportunity. In 1876, he began stamping the best of the traditional designs onto burlap. His designs also included lions, tigers, leopards, dogs, cats, birds, deer and floral patterns.

From this point on, every woman could make her own colorful rugs from scraps of clothing. For the next 50 years, this essentially rural craft spread to the humblest households along the northeastern seaboard.

In the waning years of the 19th century, with the industrial revolution well underway, machine-made goods were seen as superior to homemade goods. Hooked rugs were viewed as “quaint” and lost their popularity.

By the 1920s, however, American cities were filling up with multitudes of immigrants. Many Americans reacted to these social changes by idealizing the colonial period as a time of noble virtues and high moral standards. There was a flurry of interest in hooked rugs and homemade quilts as “virtuous” colonial artifacts (though most had been produced long after the end of the colonial period).

In the 1930s and ’40s, antique dealers and interior designers recognized the beauty and historical value of this form of needlework, leading to a resurgence of rug hooking. In fact, the great majority of the rugs we find today sold as “antiques” were made between 1900 and 1960. Since they are less than 100 years old, they are more properly called “vintage.”

American country antique collecting was at its height in the mid-1960s. Armistead Peter 3rd (1896-1983) and his wife Caroline Ogden-Jones Peter (1896-1965), the last private owners of the venerable Georgetown estate Tudor Place, began to redecorate their stately home after Peter’s father passed away. They elected to purchase three hooked rugs for their bedrooms, and those boldly pattern rugs are still part of the collection.

Today, older hooked rugs have again regained popularity, due in part to their wonderfully colorful graphics. Also, like American primitive antiques in general, they show “the hand of man” and mix well with other styles, including transitional and the now-popular mid-century modern look.

Condition is very important when collecting older hooked rugs. Collectors should be sure to check the backing for signs of rot or for missing fabric. A restorer can patch the backing and restore missing rag, but a buyer should be ready to do some heavy negotiating for a damaged hooked rug.

These once purely utilitarian objects are now recognized as an art form that, in addition, traces the nation’s history from pre-industrial times. The good news is that wonderful examples can still be readily found and are reasonably affordable. They add a dash of color, whimsy and history to any well-decorated home.

An antiques dealer for more than 25 years, Michelle Galler owns Antiques, Whimsies & Curiosities, based in Georgetown and in Washington, Va. Contact her at antiques.and.whimsies@gmail.com to suggest a topic for a future column. [gallery ids="101977,135524" nav="thumbs"]

Urban Turf: Real Estate in Real Time


“A conversation that I thought would last 15 minutes became two hours,” says Urban Turf cofounder Will Smith of his initial brainstorming – with cofounder-to-be Mark Wellborn – about a D.C-focused real estate blog.

Smith grew up in Alexandria, attended St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School and graduated from Brown University. When he met Wellborn, Smith was working on a number of other online publications he founded in the area. A D.C.-native from Capitol Hill, Wellborn had gotten his master’s from Columbia University’s journalism school and was working at the New York Observer.

The meeting, in 2008, took place at a mutual friend’s party in Brooklyn, where – in quintessential late-twenty-something fashion – “people were kicking around business ideas,” says Smith. The partners clicked when they started talking about D.C.’s lack of an authoritative real estate blog and the success of such blogs in New York City.

Founded later that year, Urban Turf’s rapid growth coincided with a development tidal wave that has washed over Washington. The blog has served up valuable scoops as the real estate market has boomed, bringing new life – and prestige – to a city best known for its political-industrial complex.

As that happened, Wellborn says, “We’ve evolved much more into a news publication rather than a real estate blog.”
The statement holds up. Urban Turf has strengthened its foothold, attracting a healthy mix of real estate consumers and professionals (70 percent and 30 percent of readership, respectively) and boasting more Facebook “likes” than Washington City Paper in the process. (City Paper’s footprint on Twitter still dwarfs Urban Turf’s, though.)

District residents increasingly rely on Urban Turf not only to inform them about real estate trends but also to fill in the details, to paint a picture of what is happening on both the macro and micro levels.

After starting out with what Wellborn describes as an “archaic idea of the web,” the site now publishes five or more posts a day, with some sponsored articles that help pay the bills. (The ads are clearly labeled, Smith is eager to interject, and they are written by someone outside editorial, Wellborn adds.)

The timing and targeting could not be more on point given the rapid influx of millennials to American cities. Lark Turner, Urban Turf’s lead journalist and a newcomer to D.C., puts it most succinctly: “Millennials are returning to cities in America, and there is probably no better example in the country [than D.C.] of all of these trends.”

Mr. Lincoln and the Winter of Our Discontent


Abraham Lincoln is such an iconic figure that the present-day public does not see him as his contemporaries did. We see him as a grave, contemplative figure, like Daniel Chester French’s elegant statue, just out of sight past the columns of the Lincoln Memorial.

But the Abraham Lincoln who ran for president in 1860 was around 6-foot-4 at a time when the average American adult male was around 5-foot-8, and his badly tailored suits and tall hats made him look like a scarecrow. On top of that, he had a high raspy voice.

He added the stovetop hat in his debates with the 5-foot-4 Stephen A. Douglas (so he could really tower over him), but the effect was not always in his favor. Although the Lincoln-Douglas debates made Lincoln a prominent figure in Illinois politics, he lost the 1858 U.S. Senate race in Illinois to Douglas. The big argument of the day was if the territories should decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery.

In the fall of 1859, the whole country was up in arms about the question of slavery – specifically, slavery in the territories. In October, John Brown had stormed the armory in Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W. Va.), and the national debate about states’ rights and slavery just got hotter. Invited to speak at Henry Ward Beecher’s Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, Lincoln got the opening he needed to plead his case against the spread of slavery in a national forum when he was invited to speak at Henry Ward Beecher’s Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. Then, even better, the venue was changed to the Cooper Union in Manhattan.

Lincoln overcame his ungainly appearance with a brilliant and carefully researched speech, in which he showed how the majority of the founding fathers had voted to prohibit the spread of slavery in the territories. So, he argued, the country, and especially the South, should accept this position.

He became the Republican candidate for president and won the election with only 40 percent of the votes, the three other candidates splitting the rest of the votes among them. He didn’t even have a clear popular majority. But it is hard to imagine what would have happened if one of the other candidates –Breckinridge, Bell or Douglas – had won.

Many in the South believed that England and France could not get by without their cotton, and that one or both of those countries would support the Southern cause. It was a bad bet, because neither country wanted to wage war against the stronger Northern coalition. On the other hand, many in the North thought a war would end quickly, due to the region’s economic superiority. That didn’t happen either; Southerners were fighting to keep a system that they felt they couldn’t survive without.

Lincoln was so sure his Cooper Union speech would get a lot of press that he visited Matthew Brady’s photographic studio beforehand. Brady, a master, was able to retouch (what we would call “Photoshop out”) some of Lincoln’s more unflattering facial features. Lincoln knew that this would make or break his chances for the Republican presidential nomination, especially since he clearly stated his belief that slavery was immoral. He ended the speech on Feb. 27, 1860, his longest ever, with: “Let us have faith that right makes might.”

The speech by the previously little-known politician from Illinois was a daring gamble. He won – and by April the United States was embroiled in a war that would claim more American lives than any other in our history.

Donna Evers is the owner and broker of Evers & Co. Real Estate, the largest woman-owned and -run real estate company in the metro area; the proprietor of Twin Oaks Tavern Winery in Bluemont, Va.; and a devoted student of Washington-area history. Reach her at devers@eversco.com.

Featured Property

January 28, 2015

3321 N St. NW

With more than 5,000 square feet of above-grade living space, this grand five-bedroom home is perfect for entertaining. The spacious master suite has extensive closets, an attached master sitting room and two master baths (of a total of five and a half baths). Other features include voluminous ceilings, six fireplaces, a spacious brick patio and an attached garage. There is also plenty of potential for the house’s lower level.

Offered at $3,950,000
Washington Fine Properties
Nancy Taylor Bubes
202-386-7813
nancy.taylorbubes@wfp.com