You are here

Arts Club of Washington

-A A +A
1802–1881, unknown. 2017 I St. NW
  • Arts Club of Washington

One of the earliest surviving structures in Downtown West, the Arts Club of Washington is a fine example of a residence of the capital city's early years. The precise geometry of the house and its flatness of detail convey the design simplicity of the Federal period. Its first owner, Timothy Caldwell, built the rear kitchen wing in 1802 and the front rooms between 1805 and 1808. In 1881, a later owner, Dr. Cleveland Abbee of the weather bureau, raised the former third story to a fourth and crowned it with an attic story similar to the original.

In 1918, the Arts Club of Washington purchased the building for its clubhouse and thus saved it from redevelopment. The club restored the house several times and installed chandeliers and mantles removed from other old buildings. In 1988, the Arts Club and the developers of the new James Monroe Building at the northwest corner of 20th and I streets NW agreed to a transfer of development rights from the former's lot to the latter. In exchange, the developer agreed to preserve the facade of the Arts Club building and its late nineteenth-century annex to the east.

Between the stone foundation and a slate gable roof, walls of Flemish bond brick are articulated into four bays, the westernmost on the first story being the arched entrance. Stone belt courses separate the stories; stone also forms the window lintels and sills. The door is flanked by side lights and crowned by a transom rail and fanlight.

Writing Credits

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee


What's Nearby


Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Arts Club of Washington", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 228-229.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.

, ,