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The Maples

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1795–1796, William Lovering. 619 D St. SE (main facade faces 630 South Carolina Ave.)

The Maples represents the ambitions of speculators who hoped to reap profits from the founding of the federal city. The first owner, William Mayne Duncanson, was one such entrepreneur who, with Thomas Law, invested in city lots. For his own house, Duncanson selected a lot six blocks southeast of the Capitol, along South Carolina Avenue, one of the diagonal thoroughfares. Lovering, designer of houses for other city speculators, provided the designs for Duncanson's house. Speculation in real estate far exceeded the actual demand for housing, and by 1809 Duncanson fell into bankruptcy. Subsequent owners included Francis Scott Key and Constantino Brumidi, who decorated a ballroom addition with his own frescoes. A new owner in 1871 enlarged the house to twenty-one rooms. In 1936, the oldest settlement house in the District, Friendship House, purchased the property. Well-known Washington architect Horace W. Peaslee “colonialized” The Maples and enlarged it to fifty-five rooms in adapting it for Friendship House.

In this work the building was reoriented to its current address on D Street, leaving the original main facade of the house on South Carolina Avenue to the rear of the lot. The new five-bay facade is articulated with a threebay pavilion supporting a triangular pediment with a bull's-eye window. The door surround and fanlight date from the 1930s, as do the replacement windows throughout. Peaslee's remodeling with large additions to the east and west provide a symmetrical framing for the house. A new theater was constructed on the site of Brumidi's ballroom.

The floor plan of the original block with a central hall flanked by two rooms on either side remains, as do the original cherry railing of the main staircase and the chair rails in the first-floor rooms. Despite all the alterations, The Maples still conveys the spatial relationship of an early Capitol Hill house on a city lot and the scale of residential development of the late eighteenth century. At the same time, it preserves the work of Peaslee, one of the city's most accomplished Colonial Revival architects.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee
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Citation

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "The Maples", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DC-01-CN37.

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 261-262.

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