Halcyon House

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Halcyon House
Halcyon House.jpg
Halcyon House in 2022
Halcyon House is located in Washington, D.C.
Halcyon House
Location3400 Prospect Street NW
Washington, D.C.
Nearest cityWashington, D.C.
Coordinates38°54′20.7″N 77°4′5″W / 38.905750°N 77.06806°W / 38.905750; -77.06806Coordinates: 38°54′20.7″N 77°4′5″W / 38.905750°N 77.06806°W / 38.905750; -77.06806
ArchitectBenjamin Stoddert[1]
Architectural styleFederal[2]
NRHP reference No.71001002
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 31, 1971
Designated DCIHSNovember 8, 1964

Halcyon House is a Federal-style[2] home in Washington, D.C. Located in the heart of Georgetown, the house was built beginning in 1787 by the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert.[1][3] Its gardens were designed by Pierre L'Enfant,[4] and for several decades in the early 19th century Halcyon House was the center of much of Washington's social life.[3]


After the death of his wife and his finances declining, Stoddert transferred ownership of Halcyon House in 1802 to his daughter, Elizabeth Ewell, and her husband, Thomas.[5] Thomas and Elizabeth's sixth child, Richard S. Ewell, was born in the house in 1817, and he went on to become a noted Confederate general during the American Civil War under Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.[5] The Ewells vacated the home in 1818.[5] A succession of owners had possession of the house over the next 80 years.[6]

Halcyon House was sold in 1900 to Albert Clemens, a nephew of Mark Twain.[1][3] The original structure was heavily altered over the next 38 years as Clemens renovated the house and added structures.[1][3] Clemens believed that perpetually rebuilding the house would extend his life.[4][6] The coach house was joined to the building, the north face and rear of the house added onto extensively with apartments, rooms were built within rooms, hallways added and then walled off, and even a small crypt added in one room.[4][6] After Clemens' death, the house stood unoccupied for four years until purchased by Dorothy W. Sterling, the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden.[6] Ownership changed again in 1951,[6] and Georgetown University bought the property in 1961 and used it as a dormitory.[3]

Halcyon House was purchased by architect Edmund Dreyfuss in 1966 and, as of 2009, was occupied by his son, noted sculptor John Dreyfuss.[3][7] The historic home was extensively reconstructed from 1978 to 1995 to restore it to its original appearance.[3] The house and grounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Places[6] and during the period Dreyfuss maintained residency and ownership, served primarily as a venue for special events.[3] Halcyon House was put on the market in 2008 for $30 million.[8] It was re-listed in January 2010 and, as of September 20, 2010, had been on the market for 250 days and was listed at $19.5 million.[9]

In November 2011 the Halcyon House sold for a price of $12.5 million to Dr. Sachiko Kuno, and Dr. Ryuji Ueno, just two weeks after the price was lowered from $15 million.[10] The house is currently used as headquarters for the Halcyon, a non-profit whose mission is to "catalyze emerging creatives striving for a better world."[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e Moeller, Gerard Martin and Weeks, Christopher. AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C. 4th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8018-8468-3
  2. ^ a b Poppeliers, John C. and Chambers, S. Allen. What Style Is It?: A Guide to American Architecture. 2d rev. ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley and Sons, 2003. ISBN 0-471-25036-8
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Gamarekian, Barbara. "200 Years of House, 17 Years of Renovation." New York Times. July 27, 1995.
  4. ^ a b c Alexander, John. Ghosts: Washington's Most Famous Ghost Stories. Arlington, Va.: The Washington Book Trading Co., 1988. ISBN 978-0915168071
  5. ^ a b c Casdorph, Paul D. Confederate General R.S. Ewell: Robert E. Lee's Hesitant Commander. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2004. ISBN 0-8131-2305-4
  6. ^ a b c d e f National Park Service. "National Register Information System". Archived from the original on 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2007-06-27.
  7. ^ Donnally, Trish. "Inspiring Sculpture Studio in Halcyon House." Washington Spaces. Winter 2005.
  8. ^ Fleishman, Sandra. "$49 Million. In This Economy?" Washington Post. October 4, 2008; Castro, Melissa. "Halcyon House May Break Record." Washington Business Journal. August 29, 2008.
  9. ^ TTR Sotheby's International Realty
  10. ^ UrbanTurf LLC
  11. ^ "The S&R Foundation". Archived from the original on 2014-02-20. Retrieved 2014-03-10.

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