The Gilded Era


The 1200 block of 13th Street NW is one of the current "frontiers" between new commercial development and old residential neighborhoods. Almost the entire east side of the block is high rise development, including the new City Hotel. The west side is dominated by a newly-constructed office building and a huge excavation at the corner of N Street. However it also has a row of three 19th century two story commercial buildings and this Second Empire mansion, still handsome despite the World War II surplus gray-green paint.

It has probably been years since this building lost its stoop, but the cinderblock in-fill adds to that well-fortified look. The tile on the mansard roof could perhaps be original, although its front face has been oversprayed with ghastly green. The fire escape on the south side suggests that this grand house may have had a second career as a hotel or rooming house. It also has a large "backbuilt" red brick three story addition which stretches to the alley between 13th and 14th Sts.

There's no posted house number, but does anyone know what's happening with it ? (February, 2002)

UPDATE 2006: In the nearly five years since our original "Victorian of the Week" was posted, development has picked off the neighboring turn-of-the century commercial row and pair of Victorian houses near the intersection of Thirteenth and M Streets NW. However, this fine house at 1224 13th Street NW prospered even as it became isolated amid new construction. After a historically-accurate facade restoration, it has become a condominium project named for its architect, the Alexandria brewer Robert Portner, which offers $50,000 parking spaces.

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