The Massachusetts Avenue Historic District-Washington DC


The British Embassy
Photo courtesy of DC SHPO

The Massachusetts Avenue Historic District is linearly conceived. L’Enfant planned Massachusetts Avenue as a transverse avenue crossing the city diagonally from the Eastern Branch to Rock Creek. The longest of the transverse avenues, it is roughly parallel to Pennsylvania Avenue and, like Pennsylvania Avenue, is 160 feet wide. In the years 1890 to 1930, Massachusetts Avenue between Scott Circle and Observatory Hill developed as an elegant boulevard lined by the sumptuous homes of some of the richest and most influential citizens of the United States. In these years a remarkable degree of architectural quality, coherence and unity was achieved, creating a street façade unique in the city and perhaps in the nation. The Depression of 1929 destroyed the lifestyles of many of the families who built these great houses. Embassies, associations, foundations and clubs moved in. Today the character of the Avenue is that of an Embassy Row.

In the late 1880s and 1890s houses along Massachusetts Avenue were built of brick or combinations of brick and brownstone in the Queen Anne, Chateauesque, Richardsonian Romanesque and early Georgian Revival styles. Between 1900 and 1910 palatial residences designed in the eclectic Beaux Arts manner were erected as far north as the intersection of S Street and Massachusetts Avenue. These ranged from incisive, white limestone geometrically massed buildings in the Louis XV and XVI manner and Italian 16th century styles to neo-classical as well as buildings with 16th century northern European origins. From 1910 until the early 1930s, the Beaux Arts style of architecture continued to flourish along the Avenue. Construction has continued on a smaller scale up to the present day.

Many of the buildings in the district possess individual architectural and historical significance, many are listed individually in the National Register and/or in the DC Inventory of Historic Places. These are as follows:

Cosmos Club (Townsend House) NR
2121 Mass. Ave.; 1899-1901
Designed by Carrere and Hastings in a Beaux Arts mid-18th century French manner

Larz Anderson House (Society of the Cincinnati) NR
Open to the public for guided tours Tuesday-Saturday, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
For information call: 202-785-2040.
2118 Mass. Ave.; 1902
Designed by Little and Browne in a Beaux Arts early 18th century English manner.

Washington Club, (Patterson House) NR
15 Dupont Circle; 1901-1903
Designed by McKim, Mead and White in a Beaux Arts Neo-classical decorative Italianate manner.

Indonesian Embassy (Walsh McLean House) NR
2020 Mass.Ave.; 1901-1903
Designed by Henry Anderson in a Beaux Arts style combining Louis XV and Art Nouveau influences.

Egyptian Embassy (Joseph Beale House) NR
2301 Mass Ave.; 1907-1909
Designed by Glenn Brown in a Beaux Arts 18th century Roman Revival manner.

British Embassy
3100 Mass Ave.; 1926
Designed by E.L. Lutyens in a late Beaux Arts Neo-Georgian Palladian manner.

Japanese Embassy NR
2520 Mass. Ave.; 1931
Designed by Delano and Aldrich in a late Beaux Arts Neo-Georgian manner.

Sulgrave Club (Wadsworth House) NR
1801 Mass Ave.; c.1900
Architect unknown; designed in a Beaux Arts eclectic 18th century manner.

Embassy of Uzbekistan (Old Canadian Embassy; Moore House) NR
1746 Mass Ave.; 1906-1907
Designed by Jules Henri deSibour in a Beaux Arts Louis XVI manner

National Trust for Historic Preservation (McCormick Apts.) NR
Open to public by appointment by calling 202/588-6000.
1785 Mass. Ave., 1915-1917
Designed by Jules Henri deSibour in a Beaux Arts Louis XVI manner.

Phillips Collection (Duncan Phillips House, Phillips Memorial Gallery) NR
Open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. On Sunday it is open noon to 7:00 pm. Thursday there are extended hours from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm.
1600-1612 21st St.; 1896-7
Designed by Hornblower and Marshall in a style combining early Georgian revival with Richardsonian Romanesque elements.

Alice Pike Barney Studio
2306 Mass Ave.; 1902
Designed by Waddy Wood in a whimsical, Spanish derivative style.

Blaine Mansion
2000 Mass Ave.; 1881
Designed by John Fraser in the Chateauesque style.

Samuel M. Bryan House (Church of the Savior Ecumenical)
2025 Mass Ave.; 1885
Designed by W. Bruce Gray in a style combining Chateauesque and Richardsonian Romanesque elements.

Chancery of Iraq (Boardman House)
1801 P St.; 1890
Designed by Hornblower and Marshall in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.

Beale House
2012 Mass. Ave.; 1897
Designed by Glenn Brown in the Italian Renaissance style.

Peruvian Chancery (Old Australian Embassy)
1700 Mass Ave.; 1909-1910
Designed by Jules Henri deSibour in the 16th century manner of Italian Classicism.

Brazilian Embassy (McCormick House)
3000 Mass. Ave.; 1931
Designed by John Russell Pope in a late Beaux Arts, early 16th century Italian Renaissance manner.

Cameroon Embassy (Hauge House)
2349 Mass. Ave.; 1906-7
Designed by George Oakley Totten in a Beaux Arts early 16th century French manner.


Massachusetts Avenue Historic District includes buildings fronting on Massachusetts Avenue from 17th St., NW to Observatory Circle. Unless noted above all embassies and houses mentioned are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Dupont Circle.