Virginia Goode Ourisman has development in her DNA.
“My family is in residential development in North Carolina,” she said. “I’ve always done part-time work for them. I kind of know the development business.”
After working for real estate agent Cynthia Howar, Ourisman was ready for a project of her own when she discovered a stone house across from the French ambassador’s residence in Northwest Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood.
“I kind of kept my eye out for something, and then I saw this house,” she said. “I grew up in a stone house. I love that.”
Architect John Edgar Sohl designed the house, and William P. Lipscomb built it for Mary Lawrence in 1926. Lawrence sold the house in 1937 to W. Campbell Armstrong, a lawyer. The next buyer was Emlen K. Davies, the first wife of Joseph E. Davies, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, who is perhaps better known as Marjorie Merriweather Post’s third husband. Davies was also the grandmother of U.S. Sen. Joseph D. Tydings (D-Md.)
When Ginette and Richard Patch owned the house, they placed a conservation easement on it with the L’Enfant Trust, a D.C. preservation group, in 2003.
Max Weinberg, drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, bought the house in 2016 with plans to renovate it. “I’ve bought and sold about 36 homes, lived in maybe like three of them,” Weinberg told the Wall Street Journal at the time.
But after renting it out for a year, Weinberg put it back on the market without renovating it. Ourisman scooped it up in March 2017.
“I went into the house and was like, ‘Wow, this would be a great project. It hasn’t been touched at all,’ ” she said. “But then what sold me on the house was I went up on this pull-down ladder thing to the attic and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, why is there so much space up here?’ ”
Ourisman hired architect Christian Zapatka, who has transformed several houses in the neighborhood. He discovered the original blueprints for the house.
“It’s not a huge footprint, but it’s a very gracious and elegant house,” he said. “The intention was to preserve and enhance the best of the historic components and then continue that staircase as if it had always been there, gaining a true third floor.”
Ben Page of Page Duke Landscape Architects planned the outdoor space.
The biggest challenge of the renovation was extending the curved staircase, with its brass handrail, not only up to the third floor but also down into the lower level. Ourisman said they went through about 10 scenarios before they figured out a way to make it look like it had always been there.
Using her family’s connections, Ourisman brought in Emily Bourgeois to design the kitchen and bathrooms and Ben Page of Page Duke Landscape Architects, who designed the grounds at the vice president’s residence, to plan the outdoor spaces.
By adding a third floor, Ourisman increased the size of the house by more than 2,000 square feet and gained two bedrooms.
But in this house, it is not just what was added but what was kept — brass hardware on the doors that sparkles like jewelry, architectural details in the living room and an opulent mirror above the living room fireplace.
“It has a bit of a Hollywood Regency quality,” Zapatka said of the mirror. “All that trim work in the living room, I mean, that’s serious business.”
Ourisman said she is pleased with how the project turned out.
“I love it because it’s detached, it’s set back off the street and it’s not a huge house,” she said. “It gets a lot of light, which I love. It’s super bright all the time. Christian did a great job with the layout.”
The six-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 5,170-square-foot house is listed at just under $5.6 million.
Listing: 2302 Kalorama Rd. NW, Washington, D.C. Listing agent: Cynthia Howar, Washington Fine Properties Previous House of the Week: Giant Food heir made two D.C. houses a home of his own More Real Estate: The most expensive homes sold in the Washington area in 2019 Hottest kitchen and bathroom design trends for 2020 Inside the new Waldorf Astoria condos