CHRS 61st Mother’s Day House and Garden Tour

647 South Carolina Ave. SE. Photo: Elizabeth Nelson

The 61st Capitol Hill House and Garden Tour, May 12 and 13, will showcase the area between the Capitol South and Eastern Market metro stations, south of Pennsylvania Avenue. Laid out for easy walking, the tour will feature nine houses, two gardens and an 1887 school that now operates as a gym. Addresses of all tour stops and photos of the homes, as well as ticket information, are posted at

This year, the emphasis is on older homes, three of which are Pre-Civil War era; all but one of which were built before 1900. Only one has been on the tour before and that was in 1970. Sustainability is a recurring theme; tour goers will notice many salvaged and repurposed architectural features and hardware items.

A Few Highlights
A renovation and expansion of the oldest house on the tour includes a fabulous U-shaped kitchen that accommodates four cooks simultaneously. Another show-stopper kitchen, featuring Italian cabinetry and a La Cornue stove, flows into a great room with a working fireplace and nine-foot windows granting views of the courtyard. The garden is the star in another residence; extensive work on the interior was focused on maximizing exposure to the lovely scenes outdoors.

A coal-burning parlor stove is the heart of a home where the owners lovingly restored the exterior which had been covered over in formstone – no mean feat. Most of their furniture was created by an Amish craftsman and there is an ADA-compliant suite at the basement level. Years of neglect necessitated removal of most interior features in another house where the original heart pine floors were salvaged and the owners went to great lengths to acquire materials and objects sympathetic to the spirit of the house. Reclaimed materials are featured in yet another home where the front windows were lovingly restored by the father of one of the owners who flew all the way from Germany to do the work by hand.

On New Jersey Avenue, where neighbors have actively resisted “association creep” caused by its proximity to the Capitol, two homes are on the tour, celebrating its residential character. At one, the the current owner painstakingly tracked down and matched period stain glass, gasoliers, doorknobs, hinges, and molding. At the other, visitors will delight to see the collection of furniture and decorative pieces collected or designed by the owner in Asia during his military career.

Last but not least, there is a detached home with a wrap around porch on a double lot. Recently renovated, it retains its original fireplaces, tin ceiling and ornate radiators.

In addition to the lovely private gardens there are two others that should not be missed. One is the product of collaboration between Brownie Troop 5083, Ginkgo Gardens, and The Friends of Southeast Library. The other is the Brent schoolyard.

Concurrent with the House and Garden Tour, CHRS will offer free outdoor tours of charming Duddington Place near Garfield Park. This is an opportunity to learn about the rich history of the street including the lives of previous occupants, past and present.

Refeshments and Ticket Info
Light refreshments will be available during tour hours on both Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon during tour hours at the American Legion Kenneth Nash Post 8 at 3rd and D Streets SE. The site will also serve as will-call and sales point for ticket pickup, during tour hours only.

Other special treats include a tour of Sport and Health gym, housed in the 1887 Giddings School building where tour-goers will receive a “Spring Tuneup” gift, and special offers at nearby restaurants, Bullfeathers and Tortilla Coast.

Tickets, good for both days, are $35 in advance and $40 on tour weekend. Advance tickets can be purchased online, by mail, at the Eastern Market weekend ticket booth and at the following local outlets: Berkshire Hathaway; Coldwell Banker; Groovy Cards & Gifts; Hill’s Kitchen; Kashmir at Union Station; Labyrinth Games & Puzzles; the Hill Center; East City Books and Frager’s Hardware. Addresses and phone numbers for all these establishments are listed at On tour days, tickets can be purchased at the American Legion Post or at any of the tour houses (cash or check only at the homes). For the latest updates, like CHRS on Facebook or follow @CHRSDC on Twitter.

The proceeds from the Tour fund CHRS’s activities in preservation, planning and education including free walking tours and lectures on topics of interest to the Capitol Hill Community. These are all open to the public and posted on the website calendar.

Many thanks to the generous sponsors of the 2018 Capitol Hill House and Garden Tour: The Rob & Brent Group, Gary+Michael Real Estate Team, National Capital Bank, The Smith Team, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, and The Hill Rag.