Long & Foster Celebrates 45 Years — and Wes Foster’s 80th Birthday

December 2, 2013

Over the last couple of weeks, Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., the largest independent residential real estate company in the United States, has been celebrating 45 years in the real estate industry. Today, Nov. 25, it also celebrates co-founder Wes Foster’s 80th birthday.

Well known in Washington, D.C., and Georgetown. Long & Foster prides itself as a company that was “founded on the principles of integrity, innovation, honesty and good old-fashioned customer service—values it continues to support today.”
Here are some detailed from a company news release:

Long & Foster was founded in 1968 by P. Wesley (Wes) Foster, Jr., and Henry Long in a 600-square-foot office in Fairfax, Va. The company then comprised Foster, Long and one employee. It provided residential and commercial real estate services, selling about $3 million in volume in the first year. Since then, Long & Foster has grown to more than 11,500 agents and employees in seven states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and it is now part of the Long & Foster Companies, which also includes Prosperity Mortgage Company, Long & Foster Insurance, Long & Foster Settlement Services, a corporate relocation services division and one of the largest property management firms in the United States. The companies’ combined sales for 2012 were in excess of $48 billion, about half of which resulted from the real estate business.

“From the time I started this company, our goals were to provide the best service possible to our real estate clients, create wonderful career opportunities for real estate professionals, and do better today than we did yesterday,” said Foster, chairman and CEO of the Long & Foster Companies. “It is with great pride that I can now say Long & Foster has been doing so for more than 45 years. It couldn’t have been done without the support of my family and the many real estate agents and employees who have worked so hard to make Long & Foster such a successful company.”

“We are thrilled to be celebrating 45 years of success at Long & Foster as well as Wes’s 80th birthday,” said Jeffrey S. Detwiler, president and chief operating officer of the Long & Foster Companies. “As a company, we’re greatly looking forward to continuing to provide top-notch real estate services and the total homeownership experience for clients across the Mid-Atlantic region for the next 45 years and beyond.”

See the March 13th Georgetowner for a profile of Wes Foster and his company Here

Life & Times In Real Estate: Wes Foster

November 25, 2013

Once upon a time in America, a boy left Georgia to become a Virginia Military Institute cadet, then a soldier, and later an aluminum siding salesman. He turned to selling real estate in Washington’s booming suburbs in the 1960s and now commands the largest privately owned residential real estate company in the United States. The story of P. Wesley Foster, Jr., is the story of 20th-century American success.

Foster is the chairman and CEO of Long & Foster Companies, headquartered in Chantilly, Va. His easy manner tells a tale of an American life we hope can still happen today. Georgetowner editors got a chance to sit down with the real estate legend.
As his executive assistant offered us coffee, Foster greeted us in his modest—at least by Donald Trump’s standards—office. The space immediately telegraphs his main loves — real estate, VMI, America, football, art, his family and especially his wife, Betty.

Feeling casual with Foster’s disarming charm, one of us flippantly began, referring to Long & Foster. “I know all about you guys.” Foster shot back, “I doubt it.”

No doubt, Foster has built a real estate and financial services empire step-by-step, agent-by-agent and office-by-office for longer than four decades. Who has not seen a Long & Foster sign somewhere during a daily drive? Such effort to build the top independent real estate company in America is not for the faint of heart, short of time or low of aim.

These days, however, Foster can take it a little easier: “I get up around 7 a.m. and read the paper,” he said. He doesn’t arrive at the office until just before 9 a.m. Foster and his wife—a sculptor who taught at the Corcoran and was on its board—moved to a townhouse in Old Town, Alexandria, after spending 32 years in their McLean, Va., home with almost four acres. “I go for a walk with my wife when the weather is good in the afternoons,” he continued. “So, I leave the office around 3:30 or 4 p.m. … I’ll be 80 in November. I don’t work as hard as I used to.”

Fair enough. He deserves that, although he still visits the branch offices and sales meetings as often as he can. In Foster’s early years, the opposite surely was the case. His long hours involved a six-day work week.

It’s this sort of discipline that Foster needed to build his company, but he has had some vices along the way. The first of which has been a sweet tooth. He manages his love for chocolate, and even turned to candy while he quit smoking when he was 30. “I was dating my wife and carried around a little bag of chewing gum and lifesavers,” he said.

As to the impact of the recent economic recession on the housing industry, Foster is clear. “We went through about five years of challenges in the market. Our production went down from 2005 to – I don’t know where the low point was, 2008 or 2009 . . . and now we are fortunate to see growth once again. As tough as it was to do, we continued investing in our company and our people. That’s what makes us so optimistic going forward.”
Not that Long & Foster itself was immune from such miscalculations. Its huge Chantilly headquarters building is an unexpectedly imposing Williamsburg-style building that has a similarly styled garage with more than 1,000 parking spaces, which Foster has dubbed “the best-looking parking garage in Washington.” He is pleased that the company has just negotiated a lease for 50,000 square feet and looks forward to welcoming new tenants to the building. “It’s a beautiful building and we are quite proud of it,” he said. “I think our headquarters represents the stability and confidence of our company and our agents.”

Still, the economy appears in recovery—with the stock market hitting an all-time high and unemployment numbers lowering March 8—but Foster remains cautious: “I’m not sure that it’s going to be that great [a recovery] because the Federal government has to get its house in order. The good news is that our company is well positioned to succeed in any scenario. I learned early on that if we lead our team to focus on the basics – really taking great care of every single client, one transaction at a time – then together as a team, we can weather any kind of market and emerge even stronger.”

Regarding the economy, Foster added: “We still have some work to do.” And as far as a true recovery in real estate? “We are working our way through and are beginning to see a real shift in the market.”

For Foster, such an approach illuminates his life. At VMI, he was on the football team. “My playing wasn’t that great,” he said. “But I played, played all four years. I was a slow, small guard.” Working his way through, even then. Foster has never truly left his beloved VMI. “I’m on the board there,” he said. “I go down there three or four times a year …” In 2006, VMI’s football stadium complex was dedicated as the P. Wesley Foster, Jr., Stadium.

So, what brought Foster to Washington, D.C., and specifically, its suburbs?

“When I graduated from VMI, I took a job,” Foster said. “I didn’t go directly into the military. You could take a year off and work in those days. So, I delayed my military duty for one year, and worked for Kaiser Aluminum. They put me in the Chicago office. When I got there I hated it. I mean, it was a place a little southern boy didn’t want to go to. But, by the time I left the next spring, I nearly left with tears in my eyes. I had a great time.”

Foster served his military duty as many young American men do and served for two years in West Germany. He was in the 8th Infantry Division—“Pathfinder”—and served as a special weapons liaison officer to the German III Corps. (Begun in World War I, this army division was inactivated in 1992.)

When his time was up, Foster said he toured Europe, thus igniting his love of travel. “They’d let you get out of the army over there and for up to a year, they would send your car and you home for free,” Foster recalled with a smile. “You could get out and travel if you wanted to. . . . Well, I got out, and a buddy and I … drove my Volkswagen to Moscow. The United States had an American exhibition that year and [Vice President Richard] Nixon was over there speaking. Got tears in my eyes watching him speak.” (This was the famous “kitchen debate” between Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in July 1959.)

Soon enough, our American GI returned home, with no money to his name. Foster got his old job back at Kaiser Aluminum and sold aluminum building products to homebuilders in 15 cities across the United States. Foster ran the program for a year. “Boy, did I get tired of that. I’d get up in the morning and have to think for a while about which city I was in that day.”

Nevertheless, one thing does lead to another. “All the guys I had been working with at Kaiser Aluminum got interested in the real estate business because we were working with builders, and I thought I’d become a builder,” he said.

This English major seemed still to be undecided on his career path. “I thought about law school,” Foster said. “My two brothers were lawyers, and had I never made it in real estate. . . . I would have probably gone onto law school and become a mediocre lawyer.”

So, why think that way and why the success in real estate? We asked.

“The guys that really tear it up are very bright. … I think I have a knack for this [real estate] business and see things that other people don’t see. In college, I graduated in the middle of my class. I may not have graduated at the top of my class, but I think I was the most persistent and worked the hardest – that’s what, after all of these years, has driven the growth and success of Long & Foster.”

Foster admitted that he sees “opportunities that other people don’t pick up,” and said a large part of his success was due to the “companies we acquire, and the people we hire and team up with. We choose to associate with people that share our values – teamwork, integrity and a drive for results. A team like this can be magical.”

Before that powerful recognition was a beginning: “I happened to meet a young fellow by the name of Minchew, who was also from Georgia and was a good builder here in Northern Virginia,” Foster recalled. “I went to work for him selling his homes. Worked for him for three years.”

Foster lived in Annandale, “sold a lot of new houses . . . and met my wife here,” he said.
“I had a roommate at VMI who was a Navy SEAL doctor and had come to Washington to do his deep sea diving training, if you can believe it, at Andrews Air Force Base,” Foster said. “He went skiing one weekend and rode up the ski lift with a pretty girl who became my wife. He introduced me to her and said, ‘Man, I’m leaving town, call her.’ ”

From Connecticut, Foster’s future wife moved to Virginia to be near her brother, an Episcopal priest. “We raised our family right here in Virginia,” Foster said. He is a father to three, and now a grandfather to six, ranging in age from teenagers to a four-year-old, all boys, and all of whom he takes delight, especially the youngest.

Today, of course, some of the family is involved in the business: son Paul Foster looks after offices in Montgomery County and D.C.; son-in-law Terry Spahr runs the New Jersey and Delaware offices; and nephew Boomer (Larry) Foster oversees offices in Northern Virginia and West Virginia. “Even as a large company, it’s important that we remain a family company. That way, our commitment to our agents and their success is unwavering,” Foster said.

Before all these company positions were possible, Foster had to meet Long. While working in Annandale on a new development, called “Camelot,” a name which Foster still dislikes to this day, he met Henry Long, an Air Force bomber pilot. The two worked together in a firm and then decided to start their own. And what of those good-looking homes in “Camelot”? They sold very well despite that name.

“We both went to military schools,” he said of Long. “He went to VPI [Virginia Tech]. I’d gone to VMI. He had flown B-47s. I shot rockets. He was commercial, and I was residential. We’d start a company, and we flipped a coin. He won and got his name first. I got to be president. We took off. We were partners for 11 years until 1979. Merrill Lynch came along and wanted to buy us, and he wanted to sell and basically do what he was doing and that was being a developer. So, I bought him out of the company.”
Foster has been asked the question again and again. We asked again, too, if he would sell the company. He folded his arms, leaned back and said: “I don’t want to sell . . . We have brought together some of the best business minds from inside and outside real estate to take our firm to the next level, and that gives us a solid succession plan as a family-owned company. Not many firms like ours can say that.”

“Family members play an instrumental role in the company,” Foster said. “I’ll be a large part of this as long as I can, but my three children own practically all of the company now. So, that’s all set. They will keep the family company spirit and leverage our management team to make sure we are on the right path.”
Things may be set internally, but elsewhere, competition remains for Long & Foster. In one of the nation’s hottest residential markets, that’s a given. “Good competitors drive us to better ourselves every single day,” Foster said. “It’s a great incentive to stay on top of your game and advance your business.”

“For example, luxury real estate, particularly in the D.C. area, is huge. Everyone out there today is vying for luxury business – and while we do sell more million-dollar-plus homes than anyone, our competitors keep us on our toes. That’s why we leverage our affiliation with Christie’s International Real Estate for our agents and their clients. The Christie’s brand really matters – it’s immediately recognizable as ‘high end,’ and it gets us in front of the most exclusive buyers and sellers from around the globe. Only our agents can market with the Christie’s brand.” Indeed, the biggest D.C. sale in 2011—the Evermay estate in Georgetown – was sold by Long & Foster.

How do you deal with all the egos? We asked. “The best you can,” Foster wryly replied. “We give them all of the tools and the backing of a great brand – and they do what they do best – work with buyers and sellers.”

“I will tell you this,” he said. “What we look for, especially in managers, is good empathy and a drive for results. When we achieve this, it is a winning combination for our company, and most importantly, for our agents and their clients. That is the key.”
From start to finish, Foster can easily detect that. “I grew up fairly poor and went to college on a scholarship, and my brothers also went to college on scholarships,” he said. “We’ve had a fair amount of drive. Two were lawyers and one is a developer now in Atlanta. I am truly humbled by the success of the company and my team. It is an honor that so many clients put their trust in Long & Foster and our team of agents.”

At a Glance:
Long & Foster is the largest independent residential real estate company in the United States.

Long & Foster represents more than 10,000 agents at approximately 170 offices across seven Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states, plus the District of Columbia.

For 2012, Long & Foster’s sales volume exceeded $24.8 billion and with more than 74,000 transactions; this is up from $22 billion and 69,000 transactions in 2011. 2012 marked a year of significant growth for Long & Foster, seeing an increase in volume of 14 percent and a 9-percent increase in unit sales.

While Long & Foster was founded as a real estate company, today its family of companies offers everything customers need as it relates to buying selling, or owning real estate – including mortgage, insurance, settlement, property management and corporate relocation services.

Long & Foster Companies’ combined sales volume and equivalents for 2012 were $48.7 billion, a $6-billion increase from 2011 figures.
[gallery ids="101194,143745,143730,143740,143737" nav="thumbs"]

Mortgage:November 20, 2013

November 21, 2013

Economic events drive mortgage rates.
The month of November showcased how
events drive markets and cause mortgage
interest rates to fluctuate.

The employment report released on Nov. 8
showed job growth of 204,000 non-farm payroll
jobs created in October. This number was considerably
higher than the consensus estimates of
120,000. This good news on jobs was very bearish
for the bond market and mortgage rates.
On the heels of the employment report were
the confirmation hearings for Vice Chairman Janet
Yellen who has been nominated to replace
the current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Yellen?s remarks had the potential of
moving the markets. If confirmed, Yellen will be
the first female Chairperson of the Federal Reserve
Bank in its 100-year old history.

In her testimony Yellen stated that the quantitative
easing made a meaningful contribution
to economic growth. She went on to say that the
resulting ?lower interest rates have been instrumental?
for the growth in the housing sector.
Yellen addressed the labor participation rate
and the long-term unemployed. She said that
there should be special focus on employment and
didn?t argue when the point was raised that the
employment numbers may be potentially higher
due to the slack labor participation numbers.
Inflation goals are the same as outgoing Fed
Chairman Bernanke. It was reiterated that the
rate of inflation is well below the goal of a twopercent
inflation rate.

Yellen stated that the quantitate easing program
by the Fed cannot go on forever, but she
did not signal that the program was ending anytime

The markets liked Yellen?s testimony. After
Yellen?s testimony mortgage rates, there was a
collective sigh of relieve reflected in the markets
after her testimony. Yellen reaffirmed her reputation
as someone who has been supportive of
Bernanke?s rate and monitory policy.
Rates moderated from the higher levels
reached after the strong employment report.
Rates were basically back to October levels.
Jumbo money ? which can be used for loan
amounts north of $418,000 with 20-percent
down payments ? has been priced better than
comparable super conventional money.
Expect rates to keep in a relative narrow
range for the near term. Historically, mortgage
rates are in excellent shape.

Bill Starrels lives in Georgetown, where he works as a
mortgage loan officer. He can be reached at bill.starrels@
gmail.com or 703-625-7355. NMLS#485021

New Condos in Georgetown

November 7, 2013

While future condominiums’ designs are debated, here are some in and around town that are selling now or are about to be.

1045 Wisconsin Ave.
Developer: EastBanc has broken ground
Expected Completion: mid-2014.
Units: 8
Unit Sizes: 3,000 to 4,000 sq. ft. at the site on the Misc.: ground level retail, a green roof and below-grade parking

2251 Wisconsin Ave.
Developer: Altus Realty, Chesapeake Realty Partners and Ellisdale Construction
Expected Completion: Late 2014
Units: 81
Unit Sizes: Unknown
Misc: The $39-million project will revamp the building occupied by the Washington Sports Club and Glover Park Hardware and put up a second building on what is now a parking lot.

Adams Mason House
Expected Completion: Late 2013
Units: 10
Misc: One, two and three-bedroom condos, as well as approximately 3,500 square feet of office or retail space.
1072 Thomas Jefferson St., NW.

Foxhall Ridge
Developer: Duball LLC, Buvermo Properties and Stanley Martin Companies LLC
Expected Completion: Complete
Units: 34
Unit Sizes: 2,100 – 3,500 sq. ft.
Misc: Townhomes, $1.5M – $1.9M

MacArthur Boulvard between Foxhall Road and Q Street, NW.
Key Bridge Exxon Site
Developer: EastBanc
Expected Completion: TBD
Units: 35
Unit Sizes: 1,800 – 2,200 sq. ft.
Misc: The five-story building will be 50 feet tall with 72,000 sq. ft. of building area.

3601 M St., NW.
The Montrose
Developer: Argos Group
Expected Completion: Late 2013
Unit Sizes: 1,300 to 2,500 sq. ft.
Misc. $969,000 to $2.6 million
3050 R St., NW.

The Auction BlockNovember 6, 2013

*Walnut Tall Case Clock
Edward Duffield (1720-1801), Philadelphia, Pa. 1765
Auction Date: Nov. 14*
***Estimate: $30,000 ? $50,000***
Freeman?s Pennsylvania Sale: Furniture and Decorative Arts features a wealth of hand-crafted
American antiques from the state?s rich tradition of craft and decorative arts. This walnut tall case
clock, a tour-de-force of 18th-century Philadelphia craftsmanship, was built by renowned clockmaker
Edward Duffield. The clock has double scroll molded cresting with floral rosettes and center
flame carved finial, two applied branch decorations above and arched face door flanked by slender
fluted columns. The brass face is ornamented with leaf spandrels and a moon phased, silvered dial
with Roman numerals and an outer Arabic numeral minute band.

*Ray Eames Desk Chair
Auction Date: Dec. 7*
Potomack Company?s Modern Designer Sale will feature designer
furniture from the personal collection of Charles M. Goodman
(1906-1992), the pioneering Washington area modernist architect,
who was the designer of National Airport, the Officers Club at
Andrews Air Force Base, the WMAL studio at American University
and other projects in Virginia and Maryland. The Dorothy S.
Goodman Trust is offering more than 100 lots from the collection,
including rare pieces by Ray Eames, Hans Wegner, Harry Bertoia,
Jens Risom and other noted mid-century designers, as well as
original furniture from the award-winning Alcoa Care-free Home
designed by Goodman in 1957 that was a prototype for the post-
World War II affordable housing boom.

*Photograph inscribed by John F. Kennedy
Gelatin silver print.
Auction Date: Nov. 25*
**Estimate: $5,000 ? $7,500**
Doyle?s upcoming auction of Rare Books, Autographs
& Photographs features material related to
President John F. Kennedy, including an image of
the president taken by photographer Fred Bauman
in Palm Springs on Sept. 28, 1963, inscribed to
him by Kennedy. A remarkably candid photograph
of President Kennedy, taken just weeks before his
assassination in Dallas, the image was taken by
Bauman at the Palm Springs airport upon Kennedy?s
arrival. Kennedy would spend two nights resting at
the home of Bing Crosby, just long enough for the
picture to be seen by Kennedy on the front page
of the Press-Enterprise. Secret service agent Jerry
Behn, who appears in the photograph behind the
president, was asked by Kennedy to call Bauman
and request a copy. Bauman sent two copies, requesting that one be returned signed and proudly
hung the inscribed photograph in his home for 50 years. Here the smiling Kennedy embodies the
forward-looking optimism of his era and the cool of a sunny afternoon in Palm Springs in 1963.

*Selling Exhibition: Les Lalanne: The
Poetry of Sculpture
Dates: Oct. 31 ? Nov. 22*
Sotheby?s selling exhibition at its New York
S|2 Gallery will feature Les Lalanne: The
Poetry of Sculpture, featuring works by
Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne, curated
by Paul Kasmin and Michael Shvo. Private
gallery sales will go through Nov. 22. Offering
a wide range of the couple?s most iconic
and sought-after works chosen by Kasmin, a
long-time gallerist for the duo, and Shvo, an
avid collector of the works, the gallery space
will be transformed into a midnight garden and
thereby evoke the surrealist sculptors? magical
world in which their life and art were intertwined
since the 1960s.

*1940 Buick Phaeton automobile from
?Casablanca,? Warner Bros., 1942.
Limited model 81C convertible
Auction Date: Nov. 25*
***Estimate: $450,000 ? $500,000**
Bonhams auction, ?What Dreams Are
Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic,? in
conjunction with Turner Classic movies,
will feature more than 300 of the most
important pieces of movie memorabilia
ever to come up for auction. Iconic props,
costumes, production art, original scripts, posters and ephemera from Hollywood?s biggest starts
will be offered. The 1940 Buick Phaeton automobile from ?Casablanca? is one of the stars of the
auction, used in the final act of ?Casablanca,? as Claude Rains drives the car to the airport, with
Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henried. Other items include the lead statuette of the
Maltese Falcon from the 1941 James Stewart film of the same name, and Vivien Leigh neglig?e
from ?Gone With the Wind.?

The National Cathedral: Echoes of the Middle Ages

When Pierre l’Enfant drew his plan for the City of Washington, it included a “national church,” which he thought should be built on the site where the National Portrait Gallery now sits. It wasn’t until 100 years later that Congress approved a plan for the Episcopal Cathedral Foundation to proceed with fundraising and then construction, which began in 1907, to the national church that was formally named the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. They chose a high point in the city, Mount St. Albans, and even though the cathedral is the third highest structure in Washington at 301 feet, its position on a hill 400 feet above sea level makes it tower over all other structures in the city.

The National Cathedral is reputed to be the sixth largest cathedral in the world. In the U.S., it is second only in size to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

Like the great cathedrals of Europe, it took a long time to build: in this case, some 83 years. And, like the cathedrals of the Middle Ages, flaws were purposely built into the construction, some say as an admission on the part of the builders that only God could be perfect, a kind of mea culpa for the vanity of such a creation. Yet these intentional flaws actually served to make up for visual distortions, a device that even the builders of the great pyramids of Egypt employed. For example, the main aisle of the cathedral where it meets the cross section is tilted slightly off its axis to make up for the visual distortion that would occur if when one were to stand in the middle of the aisle and look down the long expanse. In further reference to the great medieval builders, the architects of the National Cathedral included crypt chapels in the Norman, Romanesque and Transitional style, a mixture that also occurred in the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe where construction took so long that many changing style elements were blended in the same cathedral.

When we think of these mixed styles, is natural to think of the two very different towers on the great cathedral of Chartres in France. However, that particular cathedral that we see on the site was built quickly, as medieval cathedrals go. The reason for the two different towers is because one of the original matching 12th century towers was struck by lightening some four centuries after it was built. When it was replaced, the ornate Flamboyant gothic style was all the rage, and so the new tower was very different from the other simpler Romanesque tower. Like Chartres, the great permanence that the National Cathedral represents was tried in a similar way, when the 5.8-magnitude earthquake of 2011 shook the building and caused damage that will take many years and some 26 million dollars to repair.

Medieval cathedrals were compendiums of the civilization they represented, and much like Chartres, the National Cathedral is full of symbolism, both religious and artistic. Its decorations, architecture and its 200 stained glass windows can be “read” like a book. Students of Western culture will do well to add the National Cathedral to their list of art museums, as one more great place in our city to visit and learn.

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


November 6, 2013

As I wound my car up the long driveway at Langley Ordinary, my tires crunched against the loose gravel, kicking up a small cloud of dust into the sunlight. I pulled up beside a porch of whitewashed pine that wrapped around a sprawling colonial home with an adjacent outdoor living area, stone fireplaces, a guesthouse, a vegetable garden and a wide lawn that rolled down a hillside, scattered with neat stacks of salvaged antique lumber waiting to be used on future construction projects.

Built in 1842 as a drovers rest, Langley Ordinary sits just north of Key Bridge in McLean, Virginia, and over the past 150 years it has been used as everything from a public meeting house to a command post for a Civil War Union general. This historic property is not a typical company headquarters—but owner Doug DeLuca and his business partner Matt Bronczek are not typical company men. When they bought Langley Ordinary just over two years ago, it was in a state of near desolation. They set about repurposing the property as a palette for their ambitious vision for historic home renovation and construction. They wanted to do more than build beautiful houses—they wanted to create warm, livable and sustainably built modern homes with an eye toward our collective American heritage.

A third-generation builder who grew up in Northern Virginia, DeLuca founded his flagship venture Federal Stone and Brick in 2001, crafting functional outdoor living spaces for Washington homeowners. Before starting his business, he spent five years in New York City, working at the Rhinelander Mansion, Ralph Lauren’s flagship store on Madison Avenue.

DeLuca is quick to give credit to his time at Ralph Lauren, where he worked under Mary Randolph Carter, now Lauren’s senior vice president of advertising. A fellow Virginian, Carter had a tremendous influence on the young DeLuca, instilling in him the value of lifestyle over any other tenet in the home design industry.

“Above branding, above all else, she taught me that it all comes back to lifestyle—understanding how people live,” he says. “When she was rolling out Ralph Lauren Country, she came into the store and gave everyone a copy of ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ to read over the weekend. She said that this was the way of life we are promoting.”

“It’s the idea of how you could ever be able to trust someone to design your kitchen if they don’t have an understanding of how to cook,” says Bronczek, who came onboard with Federal Company after working as a legislative correspondent on Capitol Hill and an account executive for FedEx.

DeLuca imagines himself in any space he is designing, and he has even been known to live in his unfinished houses during the construction phase to get a better understanding of how his clients will make use of it.

“This leaves open the opportunity to stay inspired during the construction process and face challenges and adjust details as they occur,” DeLuca says. The result, as exemplified by the Langley Ordinary estate, is a home built with the same love and attention that it will receive once it is inhabited.

As part of his design process, DeLuca makes a point to host dinners for clients in his home kitchen and theirs. “I went to Shabbat dinner with a Jewish family I was doing a kitchen for,” he says, “and it was eye-opening to see how a kosher kitchen is organized. Not only was I able to make a kitchen better suited to their needs, but it made me a better designer in the long run.”

His attention to beauty and function in kitchen design has not gone unnoticed. In 2007, he won a highly coveted award from Viking, the acclaimed American-made range and stovetop producers. He is now a featured designer for the company and is frequently retained to design Viking kitchens.

“Kitchens are particularly close to my heart because that’s where everything happens,” says DeLuca. “It’s the heart of a home—where you spend the most time with your family, cooking, telling stories and just building on your traditions. I was raised in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother—the recipes they taught me are still what I go back to when cooking with my clients. So, it’s important for me as a designer to make a distinction between a beautiful kitchen, and a beautiful functioning kitchen.”

DeLuca’s personal home has a unique feeling—a farmhouse atmosphere of historic Americana interwoven with highly textural and contemporary aesthetics, with zero molding and clean architectural lines. He has a tremendous reverence for light and functional space, reminiscent of the architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen, if he were designing such traditional spaces. His interiors and exteriors are not designed separately, but as harmonious counterparts, and the results are among the most nuanced and fully realized living spaces imaginable. They are strikingly modern homes that pay homage to the history of American craftsmanship, becoming a part, if not the forefront, of its evolution.

While working in New York, DeLuca spent countless weekends rummaging through flea markets and swap meets, a source of frequent inspiration to which his superior Carter frequently turned to keep the rugged American branding of Ralph Lauren looking fresh and interesting. Taking that practice to the next level, DeLuca has made salvaging reclaimed building materials a major component of Federal Company.

“My free time is all about traveling now, because there is so much to see and find,” he says. “I blog about design, food, independent businesses that I find, and basically anything that interests me across the country. I will try to go relax and just hang out on the beach, but I honestly have more fun waking up, jumping in my car and finding three small, family-owned businesses. And if I can get them a couple orders, then I’ve developed an opportunity to get unique products for myself, I’ve gotten them some work and I have promoted American small business.”

Over the last decade of traveling, DeLuca has also amassed a community of some 90 pickers who act as his eyes and ears around the country to seek out rare building components, wood, stone and other salvageable materials that he purchases and employs for his unique style of home building. Recently, they helped him find a 200-year-old oak barn in Michigan, from which they reclaimed wide antique planks for use as walls and flooring in a home library renovation.

“This is who we want to work with, and this is the kind of work we want to do to help carry the torch of traditional American small business and specialty craftsmanship,” says Bronczek. “Salvage businesses and family-run supply companies are dwindling communities because we are so used to going to some big-box corporate hardware store and buying whatever they have available, as opposed to exploring other options—unique or custom options better suited for our homes.”

DeLuca’s multifaceted interests and all-inclusive home design services have given Federal Company something of a multiple-personality disorder (though in keeping with American style and design), which makes it difficult to sum up in one sentence. Reclaimed America, one of their ventures, was born from DeLuca’s journeys through the American countryside, where salvaged wood and materials that he finds are repurposed to create harvest tables and other custom products. Susan Sarandon recently became the first owner of their new line of clutch bags, made from repurposed wood handles and vintage leather.

Meanwhile, Federal Home is the moniker for the company’s interior and exterior home design, while Federal Stone and Brick covers their comprehensive landscape and outdoor living services. “Having these three distinct components to our business gives us the ability to provide a 360-degree approach to our projects,” he says. “We can provide consistent and holistic design, from the front walkway to the back porch, and all the way down to the paint and the rugs.”

When asked if there is anything that he does not do, DeLuca replies unblinkingly: “No.”

He is on the board of the Washington Animal Rescue League and West End Cinema. He frequently donates his time and services to a number of societies and organizations around the Washington area, including Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center. His most recent project is called Urban Orchard, which aims to plant fruit-producing orchards in inner city neighborhoods.
Speaking with DeLuca, however, his multidisciplinary approach to life and business seems to coalesce rather naturally, and even simply. For him, it really comes down to love: his love of people, service, nature, small businesses, community and American heritage. And that is the secret to his success.

“Creating a home betters your life, and that’s what is really important to us,” he says from across his desk at Langley Ordinary, which is cluttered with personal snapshots of clients whom he simply calls his friends.

“I want to build things with integrity and with solid materials for people that I care about. I want to make something new and sustainable that’s infused with history. That can’t be confined to a singular business plan. It’s a way of life, and one that people deserve.”

Most recently, DeLuca and Bronczek’s Reclaimed America was nominated for the Martha Stewart American Made Award, which celebrates the American designer. Reclaimed America placed second out of 478 companies in a nationwide competition.
“It was an amazing experience for us,” DeLuca says. “We had no marketing or budget, no production warehouse. We just had our small carriage house, our reclaimed wood and our passion. Along the way, I traveled throughout the East Coast, meeting some amazing people who gave me hope in the future of our country, which I think I was able to return. If you ask me, that is winning.” [gallery ids="101536,150041,150044,150023,150027,150032,150037" nav="thumbs"]

50 Years On: Jack & Jackie In Our Lives

October 10, 2013

Those of us who were alive on that day all remember where we were and how we felt when we got the news that day. Oh, G od. We may not remember exactly all of the details, who was with us, and exactly what we were doing or what we said, or even remember entirely the person who we were.

It was, after all, 50 years ago on November 22, 1963, in Dallas that President John F. Kennedy was shot by a lone assassin named Lee Harvey Oswald, while riding in a motorcade with his wife and John Connolly, the Governor of Texas, and his wife. That was half a century ago, the better part of a life ago, if you remember then and when. Time stopped for Americans that day, and, headed one way into history, diverged on another road. We lost a 46-year-old president who was admired probably beyond reason by millions, because, like another leader whose soaring rhetoric on the National Mall that summer roared all the way to the White House, he had the ability to inspire us to dream. He too, died at an assassin’s hand.

Beyond all that and anything else, the great loss that this country—beyond the whole Kennedy saga, the historical facts of the matter—the greatest loss we suffered as Americans was the source of inspiration, that voice and source of energy, action and vision. What we were left with was an ongoing drama, a legend, the remnants of a family that would continue to engage us and fascinate us even now and especially now.

A 50th anniversary of an event, even one as shocking and tragic as the assassination of a president, amounts to a resurrection, the old story told anew, and remembered by those who can remember it and we tell these stories, these days, through personal memory, through photographs, through musty old newspaper headlines, books and words, videos and flickering images from that day and the mournful afterward days, as well as through mediums and methods that did not exist when John F. Kennedy lived and died.

We prepare to remember that day—which resonates in especially poignant fashion in Georgetown—here, as we always do with speeches, talks, symposiums, the marketing of the cottage industry that is Kennedy books, Kennedy stories, Kennedy histories, Kennedy memorabilia. Fifty years is a long time, but our fascination with the life and death of JFK at this time is not a matter grief or of not getting over it. I suspect the need to remember is spurred not by grief and sorrow, but by history—our own, and that of the day it happened.

We mourn the passing of the president, to be sure, and the flickering of that flame in Arlington Cemetery, which we cannot today visit because of this miasma of the government shutdown, but we also with resignation recognized all that has happened since, the change train that’s rushed through and altered us all as persons and citizens.

John F. Kennedy is, of course, remembered vividly here in Georgeotown by surviving Georgetowners,, he lived and breathed, rented and courted and fathered and familied among us, sometimes looking impossibly young and dashing, like a vision of a long (and then lost) future. He lived in an apartment at 1528 31st Street as a bachelor congressman from Massachusetts, then lived for a time with his sister Eunice a few blocks down the street. After winning his senate seat in 1952, he moved into an apartment at 3260 N St., NW, for two years. He was living at 3271 P St., NW, when he proposed to Jackie, whom he had met at a friend’s house in Georgetown. The couple’s first house was at 3321 Dent Place, NW, where they lived in 1954. They moved to 2808 P St., NW, in 1957 and then to 3307 N St., NW, the couple’s last residence in Georgetown. He was still a Georgetowner when he ran for president, and his son John Jr. was born at Georgetown University Hospital.

Looked at through the prism of his residential moves in Georgetown, it’s fair to say that Kennedy lived his manly youth here, in the kind of perpetual tree-shaded sunlight so characteristic of Georgetown. He lived among his peers, his family, within sight and sound of the spires—buildings and academic intellect—of Georgetown University, of Holy Trinty Church, as part of a high-powered community full of men and women of achievement, wealth and style. The Georgetowner was here too, chronicling much of the comings and goings under founder and owner Ami Stewart.

Georgetown was different then, we are generations removed from the Kennedys in Georgetown, and most of those high-profile leaders are long gone, along with many members—the brothers, daughters and sons, grandparent, Robert and Ted, John John and Rose and Joe—of the Kennedy family.

We wrote often about the Kennedys, and in the aftermath of the assassination we tried to capture the changing, and elusive legend, watched it change over time. It became something of a tradition and part of our November journalistic life.

But now, because half a century is 50 years and a large part of a life, it is time to reflect in more detail. We have a wealth of tools to look back with—books and histories too numerous to count from those rushed and labored over in the immediate aftermath— Arthur Schlesinger’s “A Thousand Days,” and William Manchester’s still readable account of “The Death of a President” spring immediately to mind—and books of photographs and exhibitions, and films—“Parkland” a new film that recounts the assassination day is out now, but there’s always the rabbit hole of Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” a conspiracy movie to end all conspiracy movies—and memories and life and times. We had our friend Pierre Salinger, JFK’s much put-upon press secretary writing for us in the late 1990s until 2002.

For now, though here in Washington, D.C., where JFK’s funeral and memorialization and institutionalization of Camelot are vivid memories, we can remember at the Newseum, which will be holding a JFK Remembrance Day Nov. 22. The Newseum is showing numerous films, and holding numerous activities, including two ongoing exhibitions. There’s “Three Shots Were Fired,” a rich and detailed exhibition full of artifacts—including among many the Bell & Howell 8 mm movie camera, used by Abraham Zapruder which captured the killing.

“Creating Camelot” is an exhibition of “The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe,” with photographs of images of the Kennedys and their children, Caroline and John. Lowe was the family’s personal photographer.

You can find a more wide-ranging view in “Capturing Camelot,” a book of photographs by the late Look Magazine photographer Stanley Tretick, with moving text by Georgetowner and best-selling author Kitty Kelley and photographs by Tetrick of the Kennedys that appear as startling and fresh as the sounds you might have heard at a Kennedy family breakfast or touch football game.

No doubt there will be an onslaught of memories, of pictures and musings about that day. I remember myself then, sort of, a young private first class in the United States Army in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, sitting in a group of chairs around a black-and-white television set that day, and later on a Sunday, watching Lee Harvey Oswald murdered by Jack Ruby. We had never seen or felt or experienced anything remotely like that and we wept, and then were stunned into silence and later, the salute, the widow, the old Frenchman, President Charles de Gaulle, the thunder and drums and the coffin and the horse.

He still inspires us today, I think, and seems in pictures, still very alive. But it was 50 years ago. The history—the kind that tortures us madly today in our daily lives amid a government shutdown and the kind that happened then—lives on and perhaps it will echo stronger in times notable for the absence of reasonable, pragmatic and inspiring men. [gallery ids="101486,152003" nav="thumbs"]

Teal Tease

As days get darker, homes get more colorful. Hints of teal and yellow will give a refreshing feel to any room during the dark fall months. Combine the colors with earthy tones of grey and brown to create an effortless chic atmosphere. [gallery ids="101490,151773,151770,151766,151762,151759,151755,151748,151752,151778,151780" nav="thumbs"]

The Auction BlockOctober 9, 2013

*Junko Mori
Plants Exotica, Chatsworth Chandelier
Modern Makers*
As part of the Devonshire Collection, Sotheby?s will host Modern Makers, a selling exhibition
of contemporary art in Chatworth?s galleries. Leading international artists have created furniture,
textiles, ceramics and metalwork for the exhibition. Featured is ?Plants Exotica,? one of two chandeliers
designed by Junko Mori, this one created in response to the Devonshire family?s history of
and passion for collecting exotic plants. The collection is currently on sale through Dec. 23.

*An antique turquoise and diamond brooch,
circa 1840
Auction Date: Oct. 17
Estimate: $ 8,000 – 10,000*
**What?s selling**: Bonham?s Fine Jewlery auction will feature
an antique brooch from the early 19th Century. Estimated total
diamond weight: 10.00 carats; mounted in silver and 14 karat
gold; length: 1 ? in. **What sold**: Chased brass overlaid teak side
chairs designed by Lockwood de Forest estimated at $50,000-
$80,000 sold for $242,500.

*Dewitt Limited Edition Semi-Skeletonized
Tourbillion Wristwatch
Auction Date: Oct. 29
Estimate: $40,000 ? $60,000*
Christie?s Important Watches auction will feature
modern and vintage watches, from leading
brands such as Cartier, IWC, Rolex and Tag
Heuer with estimates ranging from $1,500 –
$60,000. This rare 18K pink gold and titanium
watch with
a 5-day
power reserve
signed by
Dewitt and
was made

*Stanley William Hayter
?Tangram I?
Auction Date: Nov. 3
Estimate: $1,500 – $2,500*
**What?s selling**: Freeman?s will auction selected
works from the distinguished collection of
Domini Morrell in a Modern & Contemporary
Art auction on Nov. 3. This oil on canvas by
British artist Stanley William Hayter is signed
and dated ?83, from the estate of Robert G.
Luckie, Tuscon, Ariz.

*Classical Carved Mahogany
Height 37 inches; length
82 1/2 inches; depth 24
1/2 inches
Auction Date: Oct. 16
Estimate: $5,000
– $10,000*
**What?s selling**:
Doyle New York?s
will auction American Furniture,
Decorative Arts & 19th Century Paintings from the Colonial period through the Federal
and Classical styles. This settee, attributed to Samuel Field McIntire (1780-1819), Salem,
Mass., features intricate carved detail above a loose cushion seat with acanthus carved arms.
The sette is raised on reeded acanthus carved sabre legs ending in brass paw casters. **What
sold**: Cartier, Diamond Bracelet-Watch, estimated at $6,000 – $8,000, sold for $34,375.