D.C. Architecture: 260 Years of Home Design Evolution in the Nation’s Capital

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Washington D.C. has always been better known for the design of its government buildings and monuments than its residences. Architectural focus has centered on structures like the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Cathedral, and other historic landmarks.

Still, the revitalization movement in residential communities across America did not elude D.C. The capital features picturesque neighborhoods modeled after European urban plans. Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and Capitol Hill are among the oldest ones. Here residents enjoy sweeping avenues and public squares, while living in beautiful historic homes.

Famous architects, such as Benjamin Henry Latrobe and James Hoban, are responsible for many of the city’s early Federal, Georgian, Italianate, and Colonial-style homes. Later, the 20th century saw a shift in design trends, with a modern take on historic architecture. Amazing projects signed by architects like Waddy B. Wood as well as “New American” designs from Waggaman and Ray are highly sought-after nowadays.

Are you keen on discovering the evolution of the city’s residential styles? Sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy viewing a presentation of Washington D.C. home architecture over the last 260 years. The photos are courtesy of Google Maps Street View and the property data is provided by PropertyShark:

You are free to use the code below to embed the slideshow on your website, by giving credit to RentCafe:

Landmark homes in D.C.

Because of Washington D.C.’s influential past, many properties in the city are historic structures – like the wonderful “Rosedale” mansion located at 3501 Newark Street, Northwest. The Southern Colonial-style house (included in our slideshow) is the oldest residential property in Cleveland Park Historic District and one of the oldest homes still standing in the entire capital. Featuring views of the National Cathedral, it was last sold in 2012 for $4,450,000 and is now preserved by a land trust – The Rosedale Conservancy.

Buying a house in Washington D.C.

If you’ve got millions put aside for the historic home of your dreams, D.C.’s got quite a handful of exquisite properties for sale. A 100 year-old mansion, like this 1917-built home at 3501 36th St. NW in Cleveland Park, can be easily considered rather “new” by D.C. standards. This large and beautiful 8,114 sq.ft. residence with 7 bedrooms features an indoor endless pool and a separate first floor bedroom suite with a private entrance. The property is currently for sale with an asking price of $2,200,000.

3501 36th St. NW Washington D.C.

Home for sale at 3501 36th St. NW, Washington D.C. asking $2,200,000. Image via Point2 Homes

Don’t worry if you’re not a millionaire (yet!), there are many other lovely old homes waiting for a new owner. For a more reasonable price tag than the previous gem, we’ve come across this tastefully renovated abode from 1912, located in historic Anacostia at 2262 High St. SE. The house may be smaller, with 1,430 sq.ft., but it has 5 bedrooms spread across 2 levels – perfect for any family. It boasts a large paved backyard, hardwood floors, off-street parking, and a finished basement with access to the backyard. Last but not least, it’s conveniently close to the Metro for an easy commute, while shops and restaurants are within walking distance. It could be yours for $530,000!

2262 High St SE, Washington D.C.

Home for sale at 2262 High St SE, Washington D.C. Asking price: $530,000. Image via Point2 Homes

Renting a house in Washington D.C.

Thinking you’d love to own a piece of history but you’re not quite ready? You can always rent a D.C. apartment home in a historic building.

The Warder Mansion in the Northwest side of the city impresses with its grand stature and castle-like details. Located in the cultural center of D.C., the property has been fully restored while maintaining its original character. With rents starting at $1,831 for a one-bedroom unit, can you picture yourself living here?

apartments for rent at Warder Mansion, Washington D.C.

Apartments for rent at the grand and historic Warder Mansion. Rental rates start at $1,831/month for a 1-bedroom unit. Image via RentCafe.

Another historic property that has been turned into rental units is the Kew Gardens Apartment Building in Georgetown, Northwest D.C.. Built back in 1923, it was named one of the “Best Addresses in Washington D.C.” The community is located close to Dupont Circle, Glover Park, and West End, as well as some famous historical sights and local attractions. Tenants get to enjoy numerous apartment and community amenities designed for their ultimate comfort, such as an English-style courtyard, a fitness center with free weights, a picnic area, and beautiful spacious floor plans. Prices for studios start at $1,505/month and at $1,830/month for 1-bed units, all utilities included. 2-bedroom apartments are also available.

Kew Gardens Apartments in Washington D.C.

Apartments for rent in the historic Kew Gardens Apartment Building, Georgetown. Rents start at $1,505/month. Image via RentCafe.

D.C.’s historic vibe is one of a kind. Whether you’re looking for an 1800s or a 1900s home to own or rent, there are plenty of options to choose from, although most of the time a historic property will have a higher price tag. For contemporary rental options – check out the D.C. apartments available on RentCafe.

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Nicky is a Senior Communications Specialist for RENTCafé.com, where she researches and writes about real estate, interior design, and all things that spark renters’ interests. She is also your go-to person for content collaborations. Nicky double majored in Marketing and Applied Economics and holds a master's degree in Marketing Strategies and Policies. You can reach her via email at nicky.rentcafe@yardi.com.

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