Thomas T. Gaff House

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Thomas T. Gaff House
Colombian ambassador's residence - Blizzard of 2010.JPG
Location1520 20th Street, NW Washington, D.C., U.S.
Built1905
Architect Bruce Price
Jules Henri de Sibour
Architectural style Châteauesque
Part of Dupont Circle Historic District (#78003056)
Designated CPJuly 21, 1978 [1]

The Thomas T. Gaff House is the diplomatic residence of the Colombian ambassador to the United States, a post currently held by Francisco Santos Calderón. The house, a contributing property to the Dupont Circle Historic District, is located at 1520 20th Street NW, Washington, D.C., across from the north entrance to the metro station in Dupont Circle and one block from Massachusetts Avenue's Embassy Row. [2]

Colombia Country in South America

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a sovereign state largely situated in the north of South America, with land, and territories in North America. Colombia is bounded on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the west by the Pacific. It is the oldest democracy in Latin America, comprising thirty-two departments, with the capital in Bogotá.

An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment. The word is also often used more liberally for persons who are known, without national appointment, to represent certain professions, activities and fields of endeavor such as sales.

Francisco Santos Calderón Colombian politician

Francisco Santos Calderón, also known as Pacho Santos, is a Colombian politician and journalist. Santos was elected as Álvaro Uribe's second runner up and became Vice President in the Colombian elections of 2002. Santos was re-elected in the presidential elections of 2006 for a second term once again with President Uribe to continue as Vice President of Colombia. His great-uncle Eduardo Santos was President of Colombia from 1938 to 1942 and the succeeding president of Colombia is his cousin.

Contents

Its architecture was inspired by the Château Balleroy in Normandy, France, and features a hidden ballroom and a mix of 18th- and 19th-century interior designs. [3]

Normandy Administrative region of France

Normandy is the northwesternmost of the 18 regions of France, roughly referring to the historical Duchy of Normandy.

The house has been home to a wealthy industrialist from Ohio, a United States Senator, a member of the United States President's Cabinet, a Greek ambassador, and a former President of Colombia. [2] [4]

Ohio State of the United States of America

Ohio is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Of the fifty states, it is the 34th largest by area, the seventh most populous, and the tenth most densely populated. The state's capital and largest city is Columbus. Ohio is bordered by Pennsylvania to the east, Michigan to the northwest, Lake Erie to the north, Indiana to the west, Kentucky on the south, and West Virginia on the southeast.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a sovereign state located in Southern and Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

History

Thomas T. Gaff was a wealthy businessman who made his fortune in the distillery and heavy machinery business in Cincinnati, Ohio. [2] His childhood home, Hillforest, in Aurora, Indiana is a National Historic Landmark. [5] After Gaff was appointed as a commissioner to the Panama Canal's construction by then-United States Secretary of War William Howard Taft, he and his wife Zaidee moved to Washington, D.C. The Gaffs chose New York City architect Bruce Price, working with the local architect and builder Jules Henri de Sibour to design their home at the corner of 20th and Q Streets NW. [6] Jules Henri de Sibour was a prominent architect of large homes in Washington, D.C., including the Clarence Moore House, Andrew Mellon Building, and the ambassador residences of Portugal, France, and Luxembourg. [2] Construction of the house lasted from 1904 to 1905. [7]

Hillforest United States national historic site

The Hillforest Mansion, also known as Thomas Gaff House, is located at 213 Fifth Street, in Aurora, Indiana. It has also been called by local children the "haunted house". It is built on a bluff above the Ohio River.

Aurora, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

Aurora is a city in Center Township, Dearborn County, Indiana, United States. The population was 3,750 at the 2010 census.

Indiana State of the United States of America

Indiana is a U.S. state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Indiana is the 38th-largest by area and the 17th-most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis. Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816. Indiana borders Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Kentucky to the south and southeast, and Illinois to the west.

The Gaff House was well known in Washington, D.C.'s high society; tea parties and other events were mentioned in The New York Times . [8] From 1924 to 1925, the house was leased to Peter Goelet Gerry, a Senator from Rhode Island. [6] After Gerry moved to a new home, the Gaff house was leased to Dwight F. Davis, President Calvin Coolidge's Secretary of War and founder of the Davis Cup. [2] The government of Greece leased the house in 1929 for use as an embassy. In 1944, the Gaff house was sold to Colombia by Carey D. Langhorne, Thomas T. Gaff's daughter. The house has since been used as the official residence (the embassy) of the Colombian ambassador to the United States. [2] The offices (the chancery) of the Embassy of Colombia to the United States are located a few blocks east of the Gaff House on Embassy Row. [9] Notable ambassadors who have resided in the Gaff house include former President of Colombia, Andrés Pastrana. [4] The 2009 property value of the Gaff House is $8,061,440. [10]

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 18th in the world by circulation and 3rd in the U.S..

Rhode Island State of the United States of America

Rhode Island, officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area, the seventh least populous, and the second most densely populated. Rhode Island is bordered by Connecticut to the west, Massachusetts to the north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south via Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound. It also shares a small maritime border with New York. Providence is the state capital and most populous city in Rhode Island.

Dwight F. Davis American politician and tennis player

Dwight Filley Davis, Sr. was an American tennis player and politician. He is best remembered as the founder of the Davis Cup international tennis competition. He was the Assistant Secretary of War from 1923 to 1925 and Secretary of War from 1925 to 1929.

Architecture

Drawing designs by de Sibour of the Thomas T. Gaff House Thomas T. Gaff House drawing.jpg
Drawing designs by de Sibour of the Thomas T. Gaff House

The exterior architecture of the Thomas T. Gaff House is an example of a 17th-century Châteauesque manor, [2] [11] but only two rooms in the house follow French style. [6] Gaff instructed the designers to include novel conveniences such as a hot-air system to dry clothes, a trapdoor to his icehouse so that deliveries could be made directly from the street, and cork insulation for his wine cellar. The interior features a mixture of 17th- and 18th-century designs. The main hall and dining room are lined with wooden paneling, Elizabethan wainscoting, and a sideboard that was originally used in an Italian monastery. The reception hall, which at one time doubled as a living room, contains a wooden stair rail with baroque scrollwork and walls that are covered with Louis XIII-style oak panelling. The drawing room resembles 18th-century interior design with lighter wood used for panelling and basic geometric lines. [2] [6]

Châteauesque revival architectural style

Châteauesque is a revival architectural style based on the French Renaissance architecture of the monumental French country houses (châteaux) built in the Loire Valley from the late fifteenth century to the early seventeenth century.

Elizabethan architecture term given to early Renaissance architecture in England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabethan architecture refers to buildings of aesthetic ambition constructed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland from 1558–1603. Historically, the era sits between the long era of dominant architectural patronage of ecclesiastical buildings by the Catholic Church which ended abruptly at the Dissolution of the Monasteries from c.1536, and the advent of a court culture of pan-European artistic ambition under James I (1603–25). Stylistically, Elizabethan architecture is notably pluralistic. It came at the end of insular traditions in design and construction called the Perpendicular style in church building, the fenestration, vaulting techniques and open truss designs of which often affected the detail of larger domestic buildings. However, English design had become open to the influence of early printed architectural texts imported to England by ecclesiasts as early as the 1480s. Into the 16th century, illustrated continental pattern-books introduced a wide range of architectural examplars, fuelled by the archaeology of classical Rome which inspired myriad printed designs of increasing elaboration and abstraction. As church building turned to the construction of great houses for courtiers and merchants, these novelties accompanied a nostalgia for native history as well as huge divisions in religious identity, plus the influence of continental mercantile and civic buildings. Insular traditions of construction, detail and materials never entirely disappeared. These varied influences on patrons who could favour conservatism or great originality confound attempts to neatly classify Elizabethan architecture. This era of cultural upheaval and fusions corresponds to what is often termed Mannerism and Late Cinquecento in Italy, French Renaissance architecture in France, and the Plateresque style in Spain.

Sideboard furnishing

A sideboard, also called a buffet, is an item of furniture traditionally used in the dining room for serving food, for displaying serving dishes, and for storage. It usually consists of a set of cabinets, or cupboards, and one or more drawers, all topped by a wooden surface for conveniently holding food, serving dishes, or lighting devices. The words sideboard and buffet are somewhat interchangeable, but if the item has short legs, or a base that sits directly on the floor with no legs, it is more likely to be called a sideboard; if it has longer legs it is more likely to be called a buffet. In Polish it's named kredens, from Latin credo.

In the sitting room, a hidden, movable wooden wall reveals the two-story Edwardian ballroom, which features a multivaulted wooden ceiling and ornamental plasterwork. The wood that covers the ceiling was discovered during a repair operation. A dome with a stained-glass cupola is located above the center of the ballroom. This room is used for charity balls, formal dinners, and as a gallery and concert hall. [2] [3] [6]

There were originally 220 drawings of the house's design by de Sibour, but only 20 survive. [7]

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References

  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Thomas T. Gaff House". embassy.org. 1997-08-26. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  3. 1 2 "Kalorama House and Embassy Tour sets the Table for the Presidential Dish". National Trust for Historic Preservation. 2007-09-16. Archived from the original on 2007-09-05. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  4. 1 2 Wilkie, Christina. "At Home with The Pastranas". Washington Life Magazine. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  5. "History of Hillforest". hillforest.org. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Field, Cynthia (2007). Paris on the Potomac: The French Influence on the Architecture and Art. Ohio University Press. p. 96. ISBN   0-8214-1759-2.
  7. 1 2 Scott, Pamela. "Residential Architecture of Washington, D.C., and Its Suburbs". Library of Congress . Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  8. "Social Life in Washington – Mr. and Mrs. Peter Goelet Gerry Are Hosts at a Dinner Dance". The New York Times . 1914-12-23. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  9. "Colombia - Country Specific Information". United States Department of State. 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  10. "Property Detail". Government of the District of Columbia. Archived from the original on 2009-04-30. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
  11. "Dupont Circle Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-04.

Coordinates: 38°54′39″N77°02′43″W / 38.910952°N 77.045187°W / 38.910952; -77.045187