Previous owners included Georgetown University, which in recent decades leased it to the late O. Roy Chalk, the colorful owner of D.C. Transit, Trans Caribbean Airways, and Spanish-language newspapers in New York.
By the time McElveen-Hunter bought the house, the interior was in need of a major overhaul so she enlisted North Carolina and New York architect James S. Collins, an historic renovation specialist, who remodeled the kitchen and added a new powder room to accommodate guests during summer garden parties.
He also reconfigured the top level with guest rooms, a sitting area, and a bathroom, and removed the existing attic stairs to make way for the owner’s spacious, super-organized closet on the second floor. New stairs, balusters, and moldings between the second and third floors were custom-designed to “remind the ambassador of the grand staircase in the Winterthur Museum,” Collins says.
To flood the attic with daylight, the architect designed historically accurate dormer windows based on Georgian designs in Georgetown. A large Palladian window now brightens the sitting area while complementing the original neoclassical features of the house.