Built in 1873, the Beaux-Arts-style turreted house combines a rich history with modern amenities. It is one of 64 homes in the neighborhood designed by architect James H. McGill between 1873 and 1877. Each was one of a kind, and 50 still stand.
According to the National Park Service, LeDroit Park was marketed to prominent white professionals as an idyllic neighborhood with tree-lined streets and flower beds. It was fenced and guarded to promote the “safety” of the residents.
From 1886 to 1891, students at Howard University—then almost all-black—campaigned successfully to open a pathway between Howard and downtown Washington. Black families moved to LeDroit Park and white families moved out. But the neighborhood continued to attract elites. Oscar De Priest, a Chicago civil rights activist and the first black congressman elected after Reconstruction, lived in this house for three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
By 2019, this house had fallen into disrepair. The developer who renovated it used some hardwood floors to build a bedroom wall, but few other original features were preserved. The basement was excavated and the attic was converted into a family room and bathroom. Those improvements were among the changes most appreciated by Gragert and her husband, Ciceron Lopez.
“Even [the attic] has no windows, we managed to turn it into a nice slanted cinema room,” Lopez said. “The shape of the room helps the acoustics, making them better [suited] than any other room in the house.”
The couple installed an audio system throughout the house and on the backyard patio, where a new gas fireplace has been installed. They added electronic blinds to timers and electronic switches and locks controlled by Wi-Fi.
“From the outside it has this historic Victorian charm and beauty, but inside it has the elegance and features of a beautiful modern home,” said Gragert.
The house has arched bay windows, tall windows, oak herringbone floors and a slate roof. The open concept main level includes a living room with a fireplace and a bathroom. A chef’s kitchen has custom cabinetry and an island countertop with a sink and breakfast bar.
The master bedroom suite, on the second floor, has walk-in closets and an en-suite bathroom with dual sinks and a stall shower with a soaking tub. One bedroom on this level is used as a home office and shares a bathroom with another bedroom.
Gragert said the makeshift office has a large bay window and a view of a cherry tree whose blossoms can be admired from two windows. “And there’s so much natural light here. I feel comfortable there,” she said.
The finished basement has a guest bedroom and bathroom. The detached two car garage has an electronic car charging station. The garage is now used as a home gym.
“A detached, large, two-car garage with full-height ceilings in DC, that’s pretty hard to come by,” Gragert said. “That’s ultimately what really sold me on the house, as much as I like everything about the house.”
Another distinctive feature is a marble dog shower that Gragert said she “wasn’t sure if.” [she] even wanted, but now couldn’t do without it.” Her goldendoodle, she said, is also a fan.
The house is close to multiple metro stations and the neighborhood is within walking distance.
“What I’m going to miss the most is the neighbors and the neighborhood,” said Gragert. “Our block is this hidden gem. It is this little piece of suburb in the middle of the city.”
419 U St. NW, Washington DC
- Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4/5
- Approximate square footage: 4,000
- Lot size: 3,780 square feet
- Functions: This renovated 1873 home features a turret, large windows and oak chevron floors. The open concept first floor has a chef’s kitchen and living room with a fireplace. The first bedroom suite is on the second floor. One of the two other bedrooms on the second floor is used as an office space. A finished attic above the second floor is used as living and office space. The finished basement has a guest bedroom. There is a detached two-car garage and an enclosed rear garden with a patio.
- Listing Agent: Cheryl Kurss, Compass Real Estate