Morris Cafritz

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Morris Cafritz
Born Lithuania
Died 1964 (aged 76–77)
Nationality United States
Occupation Real estate developer
Spouse(s) Gwendolyn Detre de Surany
Children Calvin Cafritz
Carter Cafritz
Conrad Cafritz

Morris Cafritz (1887? - 1964) was a Washington, D.C. real estate developer, and philanthropist.


Cafritz was born to a Jewish family in Lithuania that immigrated to Washington, D.C. in 1898.[1] His family lived at 2706 N Street, in Georgetown. He bought produce for his father's grocery store. He studied at the Corcoran School of Art.[2] He studied at the National Law University. He bought the Star Coal and Coke Company, at 315 Q Street. In 1911, he owned a saloon, the Old-Timer's Bar, at 8th Street and K Street, Southwest, Washington, D.C.[3] He operated bowling alleys.

He joined his cousin, in the development of Park Place, near 7th Street.[4] In 1922, he started the development of Petworth, where he sold houses for $8,950,[5] or financed for $1 down and $75 a month.[6] He developed the Greenwich Forest neighborhood.[7] He built the Ambassador Hotel, at 14th and K Street; the Westchester Apartments in 1932;[8] and the Majestic Apartments.[9]

Cafritz house, now The Field School

He built a home at 2301 Foxhall Road, N.W.[10] In 1949, he built the Cafritz Building, at 1625 Eye Street.[11] He developed along K Street, building office buildings at 1725 K, 1725 I, and 1735 I Streets.[12]


He was a charter member of the YMHA, in Washington, D.C. He raised $250,000 to build the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center.[13][14] He was president of the Jewish Community Center.[15] In 1964, he offered to donate the Keith theater as a performing arts center.[16]

He founded the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, in 1948,[17] funding it with half his estate, $11 1/2 million.[18] The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation is now Washington, D.C.'s largest private foundation with assets of $735,000,000. Foundation gives annual charitable grants of $20,000,000 to various non profits in the Washington, D.C. area. The Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts is named for him.[15][19]


In July 1929, he married Gwendolyn Detre de Surany, an immigrant of Hungarian descent and twenty years his junior;[20][21][22] they had three children: Calvin, Carter and Conrad.[23] His granddaughter is musician and guitarist Julia Cafritz. Their home was located on Foxhall Road and is now the home of the Field School.[23]


  1. ^ Jewish Washington: "Real Estate Boom" retrieved September 18. 2014
  2. ^ Solomon, pp. 1-2
  3. ^ Solomon, p. 11
  4. ^ Solomon, pp. 14
  5. ^ Solomon, p. 16
  6. ^ "Junior Achievement | Washington Business Hall of Fame | History | Past Laureates | 1996 | Morris Cafritz". Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "The Westchester - Building History". Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  9. ^ "Projects : Blackburn Architects, P.C". Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  10. ^ Soloman, p. 32
  11. ^ Solomon, pp. 68-70
  12. ^ Solomon, p. 115
  13. ^ Solomon, pp. 18-19
  14. ^ "Jewish Washington: Scrapbook of an American Community | The Center of It All". Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  15. ^ a b Solomon, p. 368
  16. ^ Solomon, p. 114
  17. ^ "The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation". Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  18. ^ Solomon, p. 153
  19. ^ "Center for the Arts". Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  20. ^ Graham, Katharine Katharine Graham's Washington
  21. ^ Solomon, p.22
  22. ^ Christie's website retrieved October 18, 2014 | A Hungarian-American beauty, Gwendolyn Detre de Surany in 1929 married Morris Cafritz, twenty years her senior and, at the time, one of city's most eligible bachelors
  23. ^ a b Susan Heller Anderson (December 1, 1988). "Gwendolyn Cafritz, 78, Washington Hostess". The New York Times. 


  • Burt Solomon, The Washington Century: Three Families and the Shaping of the Nation's Capital, William Morrow, November 9, 2004, ISBN 978-0-06-621372-9

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