Augusto Lopez-Claros and his wife, Mirta Lopez, who have lived all over the world, were less interested in who their neighbors were than what the place offered.
“Over the previous two decades, work had taken us to Moscow, London, Geneva and Madrid, and we were looking for a property that was in the center of the city, close to the museums, the Kennedy Center (we are both classical music enthusiasts) and green spaces, such as Rock Creek park,” Lopez-Claros wrote in an email.
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The couple, who bought the house in 2011, also wanted a home that would allow them to comfortably entertain large groups. They enjoy inviting guests to conversations and dinner parties. But they were not the first to take advantage of the house’s interior design. Several other notable Washingtonians have lived and entertained here.
Philip M. Stern is believed to have been the first owner. Stern was a philanthropist, author, and Democratic Party activist. He served as Assistant Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in the Kennedy administration. His books include “The Best Congress Money Can Buy” (1988); “The Great Treasury Raid” (1962); and “The Shame of a Nation” (1965). He spent several months in 1974 as a special investigative reporter on the life insurance industry for The Washington Post.
Duke M. Patrick, a lawyer, bought the house from Stern in 1965. Patrick sold it to Hobart Taylor Jr. in 1979.
Taylor had also worked in the Kennedy administration, serving as special counsel to and executive vice chairman of the newly formed President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, the forerunner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He was the first non-white person to head the staff of a presidential committee. He is credited with coining the term “affirmative action”. Taylor was later director of the Export Import Bank under President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Mishal al-Sabah, now Crown Prince of Kuwait, is listed as the owner of the house from 1983 to 1988. Inquiries to the Kuwaiti embassy to confirm his ownership went unanswered.
Ellen Tauscher paid $1.5 million for the house in 1996, shortly after she was elected to the House of Representatives from California. Tauscher, who was one of the first women to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, served in Congress for more than a decade. She resigned her seat in 2009 to join the State Department as a senior arms control adviser to President Barack Obama.
After taking possession of the house, Mirta Lopez worked closely with Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath in Bethesda, Md., to update it. On the third floor, the owner’s bathroom and dressing area were transformed. The bathroom on the fourth floor was also redone. Carpets were removed, revealing nearly pristine hardwood floors. Both kitchens – the main one on the second level and catering on the first level – were modernized. A room next to the main kitchen was converted into a breakfast area.
But several of the home’s original features were left untouched, including the sweeping spiral staircase and the adjacent wall of windows, both of which span all four levels. In the marble foyer, the sculptural staircase provides a stately entrance to the house.
“It was one of the features that we found very attractive,” Augusto Lopez-Claros said by phone from Madrid, where he heads the Global Governance Forum. “The combination of the round staircase and the very large window that goes from the first to the fourth level really gave the house an enormous amount of light.”
Mirta noted that the stairs are not steep and therefore easy to climb. For those who don’t want to take the stairs, an elevator runs to all four levels.
Because the house is built into a hill, both the entrance level and the second level open out to the outdoors. The living room has several French glass doors leading to a walled patio at the rear. There is parking for three cars in front of the house, and a cleverly hidden, attached garage has space for a fourth car. Instead of a traditional garage door, the opening to the garage looks like a set of French glass doors with shutters.
“It’s a very comfortable, easy house,” said Mirta. “It has a lot of natural light. It has a nice flow when you have guests. … But other than that—this is a little esoteric—I think every house has a soul, and this house is one of the happiest houses .”
The five-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 6,700-square-foot house is listed for just under $4.5 million.
2315 S St. NW, Washington, DC
- Bedrooms/bathrooms: 5/7
- Approximate square meters: 6,700
- Lot size: 0.12 hectares
- Features: The 1958 home in DC’s Kalorama neighborhood features formal living and dining rooms on the second level. Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath updated the main kitchen on the second floor. The catering kitchen, on the entrance level, has also been remodeled. The living room has several French glass doors that open to a walled patio. In addition to parking for three cars in front of the house, there is a garage for one car attached to the house.
- Listing Agents: Margot Wilson, Robert Hryniewicki, Adam Rackliffe and Christopher Leary, Washington Fine Properties