The Deer House Is for Sale

Next Chapter for A Capitol Hill Icon

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Front of house - Three lots were joined to create the Deer House and Gardens in 1902.

The Deer House, one of Capitol Hill’s finest and most well-known homes, has just been put on the market.  It’s a good time to look at the features and history of what Gary  Jankowski, Coldwell Banker Residential real estate agent, calls a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”  The seven-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath house, is located at 712 East Capitol Street, NE and is fondly known by generations of kids and residents as the Deer House thanks to its front yard sculpture.

The villa style home has had only four owners since Antonio Malnati applied for the general building permit on August 2, 1902.  Malnati had emigrated from Milan, Italy

and worked as a stonecutter in the Baltimore and DC area, including work on the Old Executive Office Building.  He hired architect George S. Cooper to design the house, and he estimated that the home would cost $10,000.

The house broke a real estate price barrier in 2000 when Connie Tipton and her late husband Tip purchased it for $1.1 million from longtime Hill residents Lael and Ron Stegall.  Connie says she still has framed copies of all the press it generated at the time.  Over the next two decades, the Tiptons enjoyed bringing the majestic stone and brick home into the twenty-first century by updating the kitchen, and all the electrical and plumbing fixtures.  Connie says, “We were very careful in our renovations to keep the historical and classic elements of the original house.  The kitchen was designed with entertaining large functions in mind.”

Today, the asking price for the stunning home and gardens, including a private driveway that can accommodate two cars, and a detached two car heated garage is listed for

$4.75 million.  The Wall Street Journal featured the home on July 15, 2020 as the House of the Day describing  the house as colorful with good bones and a great location seven blocks from the Capitol.

Connie Tipton says her best memories of the home are of the many countless garden parties, weddings, and fundraising events she and her husband hosted.  “It really is an entertainer’s dream,” says Connie.  The house and garden can easily host events for 200 or more people.  The Tiptons were top trade association lobbyists for the Dairy Foods Association and had the opportunity to host many national and local politicians and elected officials.

A number of local charity executives were sad to hear the house would be changing hands, as they have benefited greatly from the generosity of the Tiptons and the great success of fundraisers held at the Deer House.

Besides the adult gatherings, the Deer House also was locally known for its Halloween decorations and a must “trick or treat” stop.  “Every year we had about 20 to 30 friends and volunteers help us set up the Halloween decorations,” Connie said, “and we would have thousands of kids come through the garden.”

Generations of children have also enjoyed the statue of the deer that resides in the front yard. No one really knows how or when the statue got there.  But the speculation is it is original to the house.  Connie says the deer has sported a red nose at Christmas and bunny ears in the spring.  “Over the years, people would always refer to our house as the deer house, so we eventually decided to “officially” name the house, The Deer House, and commemorated it with a plaque,” says Connie.

In addition to the deer, the Tiptons had the side porch rebuilt and enjoyed sitting there in the evenings.  It looked out on a wall and Connie said Tip came up with the idea of having a fresco mural painted on it, to give them something pretty to look at. Andre Kouznetsov, a transplanted Russian artist, painted the artwork.  He followed old school fresco painting techniques, to ensure that the work will remain for years to come.  He incorporated many of the features of the house and even painted several of the neighborhood children sitting on the bench.

Rarely will you find such a large home on Capitol Hill.  There is a large in-law suite with two bedrooms and one of the full bathrooms occupies the terrace level.  Connie noted that two different Senators, one from each party, rented the apartment over the time they lived there.

While the house will soon have new owners, luckily for Capitol Hill Connie isn’t moving far away having purchased a nearby condo. “I am looking forward to a new lifestyle and am enjoying the stunning sunset views of the Capitol and beyond.  I wouldn’t think of living anywhere else, ” says Connie.  For more information on the house contact Gary Janowski, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage firm at 202-547-3525.

Rindy O’Brien is a long-time hill resident and great admirer of the Deer. To contact her [email protected]