Leon E. Dessez

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Leon Emil Dessez
BornApril 12, 1858
DiedDecember 25, 1918
Normal School for Colored Girls (which became Miners Teachers College), a Colonial Revival Architecture style building

Leon Emil Dessez (April 12, 1858 – December 25, 1918) was an architect in Washington D.C.. He designed public buildings in Washington D.C. and residences in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia,[1] including some of the first in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where he was the community's first resident. His work includes the 1893 the conversion of 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, The Shepherd Centennial Building, into the Raleigh Hotel[2] (razed in 1911) [3] and the Normal School for Colored Girls (1913) designed with Snowden Ashford.

Dessez began his career employed under Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey on plans for the Washington Monument and spent three years as an architectural and engineering draftsman in the Navy Yard at Washington.[1] He and Lindley Johnson of Philadelphia designed the first four houses in Chevy Chase, Maryland and Dessez became its first resident.[4]

Dessez was born in Washington, D.C. on April 12, 1858.[5] Bessie Semmes Dessez (- March 20, 1945), mother of Captain J.H.S. Dessez and Elizabeth S. Dessez.[6]

Dessez was elected to the American Institute of Architects as fellow 1896.[5] He was one of the Washington D.C. AIA chapter's charter members in 1887 and he served on a committee for the restoration of the Octagon House, now the AIA headquarters.[5] He also worked pro bono to develop Washington D.C.'s building codes and investigated school building construction and design.[5] He died in Washington D.C. December 25, 1918.[5]

Properties he is credited with designing listed on the National Register of Historic Places include Lucinda Cady House, 7064 Eastern Ave., NW. Washington, DC; Engine House No. 10, 1341 Maryland Ave., NE. Washington, DC; Miner Normal School, 2565 Georgia Ave., NW. Washington, DC; and Truck Company F, 1336-1338 Park Rd. NW Washington, DC.[7]

Other works[edit]

  • G.E. Hamilton Residence[8]
  • 628 E. Capitol St. NE (1885)[9]
  • Official residence for the vice president at the Naval Observatory,[9] known as the Admiral's House (1893) on Observatory Circle, at Massachusetts Ave. at 34th St. NW. A Late Victorian red brick building (since painted over) the porched home was built with a turret and dormers.[10][11]
  • 926 F Street Northwest, a three-story brick building for law firm Wold and Cohen.[12]
  • Gallinger Hospital[5] which became District of Columbia General Hospital
  • Workhouse at Occoquan, 1909 The planning "revolutionized the architecture of penal institutions" with its open air design.[5]
  • House ("residence") for E.J. Stellwagen (1899 plans), Baltimore (i.e., Biltmore) Street and Columbia Road (lot 2, block 2), N.W., Cliffbourne, Washington, D.C.[13]
  • Corby Mansion (C. 1893) 9 Chevy Chase Circle, was Senator Francis G. Newlands house 1893-1898, remodeled in 1911 [14]
  • St. James Episcopal Church 1891–1897 14 Cornwall St., N.W., later additions were added (1931?)[15][16]
  • Kappa House (1908) 1708 S Street, NW. Originally a residence, it became the Washington DC Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity since June 4, 1949. Georgian architecture style[17]
  • Garfield Memorial Hospital, replaced by Washington Hospital Center[17]
  • Soldiers' Home, Washington, D.C., now the Armed Forces Retirement Home[17]
  • D.S. Porter House (plans) 1894 9 East Lenox Street, Chevy Chase. Craftsman and Colonial Revival architectural styles[18]
  • Powell Junior High School (1910) demolished[19]
  • Fairmont Field Club (1912) Destroyed by fire 2008[20]


  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ John DeFerrari. Lost Washington. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  3. ^ Goode, Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings, 2003, p. 218.
  4. ^ Robert Benedetto; Jane Donovan; Kathleen Du Vall. Historical Dictionary of Washington. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Journal of the American Institute of Architects - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1918-12-25. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  6. ^ "Interments in the DC Congressional Cemetery" (PDF). Bytesofhistory.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
  7. ^ "Query by architect". Elkman.net. Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  8. ^ "Archival Image & Media Collection". Digital-libraries.saic.edu. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  9. ^ a b Orton, Kathy (2013-01-04). "House of the Week | Capitol Hill row house for $3.3 million - Where We Live". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  10. ^ E. J. Applewhite. Washington Itself: An Informal Guide to the Capital of the United States. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  11. ^ Pamela Scott. Buildings of the district of Columbia. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  12. ^ Recording Historic Structures. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  13. ^ "[House ("residence") for E.J. Stellwagen, Baltimore (i.e., Biltmore) Street and Columbia Road (lot 2, block 2), N.W., Cliffbourne, Washington, D.C. Front elevation]". Loc.gov. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  14. ^ "Maryland Historical Trust - Inventory Form for State Historic Sites Survey" (PDF). Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
  15. ^ "Sah Archipedia". Sah Archipedia. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  16. ^ "A Guide to the James Goode Photograph Collection, Circa 1750s, 1759, 1892, 1899 James Goode Photograph Collection VC 0010". Ead.lib.virginia.edu. 2008-07-28. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  17. ^ a b c "Footsteps of Achievement : The Historic Kappa Heritage Trail" (PDF). Wdchumanities.org. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  18. ^ "1997.01.02.09". Chevychasehistory.pastperfect-online.com. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  19. ^ "Powell Junior High School (demolished) | Flickr – Condivisione di foto!". Flickr.com. 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  20. ^ "Cause sought in Field Club blaze » The Times West Virginian". Timeswv.com. Archived from the original on 2013-06-30. Retrieved 2013-08-16.