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Thomas Simmons House

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1967, 1976–1977, Thomas Simmons. 314–316 9th St. SE

The Thomas Simmons house is one of the few aggressively modern infill additions to the Capitol Hill neighborhood that invite admiration rather than scorn. It was designed in two phases: the first in 1967 and the second in 1976–1977, when an adjacent lot became available. In all, the large site contains the main living quarters, two rental apartments, and one small architectural office. The three living units share a swimming pool at the rear and a garden. At the completion of the second and last phase, the architect described the ensemble as a kind of affluent commune except that its occupants do not experience the loss of privacy felt by those in real communes.

The Simmons house owes its appeal to its oriental-like tranquility. A wooden strip screen and landscaped front yard shield the entry court from the public. The main living spaces are set behind the court, connected to the ends of the front wall with a sloping roof covered with metal sheeting. The viewer can catch a glimpse of the living quarters to the rear, where the motif of wooden strips is repeated, as is the metal roof at the pent. New shapes are also introduced, such as wheel windows on the front of the living quarters. It is doubtful that such a boldly modern design for an infill building in the regulated Capitol Hill Historic District could be approved today. As a product of its era and of preregulation, the Simmons house demonstrates that modern and historic design need not be incompatible.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee
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Citation

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Thomas Simmons House", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DC-01-CN30.

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 259-259.

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