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Embassy of India

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Thomas Murray House
1901, Chase and Ames. 2107 Massachusetts Ave.
  • Embassy of India (Thomas Murray House)

The setting of the Murray House, part of the continuous urban fabric rather than isolated in its own grounds, contributes to its cosmopolitan European character. Its facade is a particularly coherent, rich, and assured design. Two main floors predominate, each with tall, wide windows overlooking balconies; individual stone balustrades stand before French doors below and an elegant wrought-iron screen spans the entire facade above. All are supported by ornately carved brackets; these, as well as the mascarons over the first-floor windows, garland above the entrance, and cartouche over the window above the door, provide sculptural counterpoints to linear layered walls. In Chase and Ames's hands limestone, whether carved or flat, curved or rectilinear, becomes a particularly supple material, capable of being architectonic yet astylar, solid yet light. The asymmetries of their design are subtle but contribute greatly to its quality: vertically the wide entrance bay on the left occupies two bay widths, horizontally the entrance is sunken below the ground-story level. The genesis of this refined architectural treatment is the eighteenth-century French Louis XV style where astylar compositions were decorated with delicate but rich sculpture and ornament was drawn from decorative rather than architectonic vocabularies. Its application on the Murray House is more robust, with elements more densely packed, resulting in its reinterpretation into an American idiom.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee
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Citation

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Embassy of India", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DC-01-DU33.

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 330-331.

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