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Meridian House International (Henry White House, White-Meyer House)

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Henry White House, White-Meyer House
1910, John Russell Pope. 1624 Crescent Pl. NW
  • Meridian House International (Henry White House, White-Meyer House)

The Henry White house was the first of two mansions designed by John Russell Pope for friends on Meridian Hill. Set at the back of a sloping trapezoidal site, the house is protected visually by a high brick wall on the street in the French manner and by a tall retaining wall at the foot of the double curved entrance drive. A two-story, five-bay brick house with attached single-bay wings, it is a modern transformation of an English Georgian country house. The Tuscan entrance portico serves as a porte-cochère, and the garden facade loggia—also Tuscan—faces a narrow paved terrace, which was once the vantage point for uninterrupted views of the entire city. French doors and windows throughout the ground floor allow in abundant natural light and open onto small walled gardens that block out the nearby cityscape.

All of the architectural elements reveal Pope's extremely refined sensibility, where attenuated proportions are coupled with abstract, often sinuous details, such as his exterior window brackets or the curved corners of his portico entablatures. The axiality of the entrance sequence and main facade imply a central hall plan, in keeping with the design principles of its Georgian antecedents. Therefore one is surprised by the closing of the main axis in the entrance hall and its diversion to double axes established by the windows flanking the main door. In the entrance hall, engaged Ionic columns carrying a full entablature establish a formality that continues throughout the building. Parallel to the hall, the dining room and library suite traverse the garden side of the main block, with the service wing to the west and the drawing room to the east. As on the exterior, the decorative vocabulary of the interiors is derived from the Anglo-Palladian tradition, but Pope's affinity with sixteenth-century Italian motifs—such as his elongated brackets and entablatures composed of multiple, continuous moldings—subtly changes the robust, sculptural quality of the English tradition into a new and highly refined interpretation of classicism. Open to the public.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee
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Citation

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Meridian House International (Henry White House, White-Meyer House)", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DC-01-MH17.

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 308-309.

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