Washington’s Patterson Mansion, a Dupont Circle Icon, Listed for Sale by TTR Sotheby’s International Realty

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1901 Stanford White Masterpiece was Cissy Patterson’s Home, Temporary White House, Heart of Capital City’s Society

15 Dupont Circle NW

The mansion likely will be purchased for use as an embassy, foundation or association headquarters, social club or, once again, as a personal residence.

TTR Sotheby’s International Realty today announced it has been engaged to sell the 112-year-old Patterson Mansion in Washington, DC, the sole remaining example of the grand mansions that once graced Dupont Circle in the nation’s capital, and that made it the center of social life for the city’s newsmakers and influential citizens during the the first half of the 20th century.

The 36,470 square-foot, four-story white marble and brick residence at 15 Dupont Circle is situated on a one-third acre site at the corner of P Street and has housed The Washington Club since 1951. The mansion was designed by architect Stanford White of the prominent firm McKim, Mead & White and is the only remaining example of his work in Washington.

The Patterson Mansion is listed for sale at $26 million. Jonathan Taylor, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty managing partner, said, "the mansion likely will be purchased for use as an embassy, foundation or association headquarters, social club or, once again, as a personal residence.”

The mansion was the vision of Robert Patterson, editor of the Chicago Tribune, and his wife, Elinor “Nellie” Medill Patterson, daughter of Joseph Medill, the mayor of Chicago who owned the newspaper. They brought their energy, money and power to Washington in 1901 and built their new home in the city’s most fashionable neighborhood.

The Pattersons specified grand interiors suitable for entertaining on a large scale. McKim, Mead & White responded by creating a home with function space large enough to host the grandest of social events. The Patterson Mansion became the social heart of Washington; invitations were sought after by the most prominent statesmen, politicians, journalists and industrialists of the era.

With nearly 1,000 commissions executed between 1879 and 1912, McKim, Mead & White was the choice for the most prestigious projects of the era, including the West Wing and East Wing of the White House and campuses for Columbia and New York Universities and the Harvard Business School. Their residential clients included many of the most powerful figures of the Gilded Age – the Vanderbilts, Astors, Whitneys, J.P. Morgan and Joseph Pulitzer, among others – for whom the firm designed sumptuous town houses in New York, Washington, Baltimore and Boston and summer homes in Newport, R.I. and Long Island, N.Y.

The general character and ornamentation of The Patterson Mansion evoke Italian Renaissance prototypes and hints at the reincarnation of White City: the buildings of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The white walls, decorated with glazed terra cotta, Ionic orders, attic story, enriched bands and garlanded window pediments, recall the firm’s New York State building at the exposition.

Early in the 1920s, the mansion passed into the hands of the Pattersons’ daughter, Eleanor Josephine Medill “Cissy” Patterson, publisher of Washington’s former Times-Herald newspaper, whose lavish parties and political connections ensured her home’s reputation remained at the epicenter of Washington social life.

In the summer of 1927, when Patterson was living in New York, she offered her home to President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge while the White House underwent renovations. During their residency at The Patterson Mansion, the Coolidges hosted aviator Charles Lindbergh following his famous transatlantic flight.

When Patterson died in 1948, the mansion and its furnishings were bequeathed to the American National Red Cross, which sold it to the Washington Club in 1951. The club, founded in 1891, was the first women’s organization to be incorporated in the District of Columbia. A two-story structure that houses the banquet hall and auditorium was added in 1956. The club conducted its activities in the mansion until 2013.

The Patterson Mansion was designated a District of Columbia Historic Site in 1964, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and became part of the Massachusetts Avenue Historic District in 1974.

Jonathan Taylor shares the exclusive listing with Christopher Ritzert and Christie Weiss, both vice presidents at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

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A. Bradley Nelson
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