For Ambassador Sensoy, this is not his first posting in luxury. “Our Embassy Residence in Moscow is also a little palace, but it hasn’t been redone or restored to this extent,” he explained. As a career diplomat, Sensoy has served as Turkey’s Consul General in London, and has also been Turkey’s top envoy to Spain and the Russian Federation.
The magnificent Sheridan Circle Mansion – which garnished its more maligned nom de plume “bottle top mansion” thanks to first owner, multi-millionaire philanthropist and industrialist Edward Hamlin Everett, who invented the modern bottle top – was designed by Washington architect George Oakley Totten, Jr., a respected designer of Cosmos Club and several 16th Street embassy mansions, and importantly, an architect with impressive Turkish ties.
Totten had worked in Istanbul where he acquired an important patron in Sultan Abdul-Hamid, who recognized Totten’s talent via his design of the first American Embassy there. Totten equally impressed Turkey’s then Prime Minister Izzet Pasha, who asked the young American architect to design his own official residence. Totten was eventually offered the exalted position of “Personal and Private Architect to the Sultan.” However, it was not meant to be – the Sultan was deposed in 1909 before the partnership began.
Returning stateside, bottle-top mogul Everett commissioned Totten to design and build a mansion for him and his family. His only instructions were “to spend and to dream.” Sourcing artisans and materials from all over the world, Totten spent the most of two years, 1914-1915, doing just that. The result was an architectural masterpiece fusing design elements, spanning three centuries and referencing motifs both East and West. Unwittingly, Totten had created the ideal Turkish residence.