The Beall-Washington house is a historic home on the corner of R and 30th St. It is one of the grand 19th century estates that dot upper Georgetown. The property is named after the Beall-Washington family, which was formed through the marriage of George Washington’s grand nephew and a descendant of Scotsman Ninian Beall, the original owner of much of Georgetown. It was also owned for a time by District of Columbia Governor H.D. Cooke (who built Cooke’s Row on Q St.). The property has a large circular driveway, which gives the home an unusually country feeling in urban Georgetown.
Nowadays, the home is better known as Katharine Graham’s house. The Washington Post owner lived in the house for decades and with her parties ensured that 2920 R St. was at the center of the Georgetown social circuit.
After Graham’s death in 2001, the home was bought for $8 million by local private equity multi-millionaire Marc Ein. And in GM’s opinion, Ein has been a terrible steward of this historic home.
First of all, Ein never actually moved into the house. He lives in the Palisades. Why he needed an $8 million pied-a-terre just a mile or so away from his actual home is a mystery. GM recalls reading an interview in the Georgetowner a couple years ago with Ein where he explained that the reason he bought the house was, essentially, because it was there to be bought (unfortunately the Georgetowner’s archives aren’t online).
It has basically sat empty since Ein bought it. Occasionally its lawn hosts a wedding or some sort of elegant affair, but mostly it sits there abandoned. Considering the lively history it has seen, it is a shame to see it so empty.
But the greater crime is not that it is empty, but rather that Ein is letting it fall apart. The elegant exterior is literally rotting away. GM has also heard that the interior is in poor shape as well. As Carol Joynt reported a while back, apparently Ein put the house back on the market almost within a year of buying it. It is not currently listed on MLS, but it would seem that it is still informally for sale.
While the building is not so bad that we should be concerned about demolition by neglect, it is nonetheless in the interest of all Georgetowners who care about the preservation of our historic buildings that the Beall-Washington House not be allowed to continue to rot. And speaking of historical preservation, while Ein owned the Beall-Washington house, the property was illegally subdivided without the requisite review by the Historical Preservation Review Board (and not for nothing, the law firm that filed the illegal subdivision was the same law firm that tried to subdivide Marc Teren’s Williams-Addison House).
But the reason why GM chose now of all times to criticize Ein’s stewardship of the Beall-Washington House is simple: a total disregard of sidewalk shoveling requirements.
As a large corner lot, The Beall-Washington property has a very long adjacent sidewalk. GM has already pointed out how corner lots are some of the worst scofflaws when it comes to sidewalk clearance, but Ein’s property truly takes the cake:
A good 100 feet of sidewalk on the east side of 30th street has not been touched by a single shovel. It’s built up so much that there isn’t even a trail of footprints.
The R St. side is not much better:
There’s a bit of a beaten path on the R St. side, but not much of one and the path has certainly not been shoveled.
But Ein’s an absentee landlord, you say, how could he arrange for the sidewalks to be cleared? Maybe the same way he paid for someone to plow his driveway:
Mark Ein: Terrible steward, even worse neighbor.
UPDATE: Ein offers his defense and says he is good neighbor. He promised to clear the sidewalk. As of 8:00 pm Tuesday night, about three quarters of the sidewalk was cleared:
30th St. side. It starts out ok, but…
…about halfway down the shoveling stops.