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
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.