Realizing this, Everett’s wife Grace Burnap approached the Turkish government in 1932, about purchasing the residence after he died in 1929. But Turkey, then a new Republic, was anything but wealthy. Instead, the house was leased and in 1936, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the visionary founder and the first President of modern Republic of Turkey, foresaw America’s rising global political importance and decided the mansion must be purchased to host the modern Turkish Republic’s Ambassador to the U.S. It was bought fully furnished for around US$400,000, and a true landmark for an important diplomatic relationship had been established.
The first Turkish ambassador to live in this opulent setting was Münir Ertegün, famous for breaking down Washington’s social barriers by holding integrated Sunday music salons arranged by his two sons, Nasuhi and Ahmet. The latter founded Atlantic Records and became a music industry icon. [See side-bar] Until February 1990, the building served as both the Turkish Embassy and the Residence. The chancery was moved to rented space until 1999 when the new Massachusetts Avenue Embassy opened.
Architect Belinda Reeder of Archetype and her team have been consumed with reclaiming the property’s former glory for the past six years. Starting with a feasibility study in 2001 under Ambassador Baki Ilkin and his wife Nur, Reeder knew heading in that, “This was going to be a very difficult project.” Ultimately, this “difficult project” began to come to life during time of the succeeding Ambassador Faruk Lososlu and his wife Mimi.