REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- McGuffey Hill: A condo with a library like no other


ADDRESS: 211 Second Street NW #A

NEIGHBORHOOD: McGuffey Hill condominiums

ASKING: $624,900

ASSESSMENT: $533,100


SIZE: 2,192 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: n/a

CURB APPEAL: no curb

LISTED BY: Tim Michel, McLean Faulconer  295-1131

Condominiums are nothing new these days: the Randolph, the Holsinger, Queen Charlotte– they've become an accepted part of the landscape. But back in the early '80s, when architects Joe Bosserman, and Frank Folsom Smith introduced their projects on the Mall and on McGuffey Hill, they were something of a novelty. 

Smith's McGuffey condominiums, in particular, raised a lot of eyebrows as they usurped the small woods behind McGuffey Park that lots of people had considered sacrosanct. Now that they've been in place for almost 30 years and some of the woods have grown back (not counting the part destroyed by the renovation of McGuffey Park last year), no one thinks twice about them.

But buyers interested in deluxe downtown living should think twice about this interesting unit in the complex.

On the first, or walk-in, level from the front– but actually on the second level above McIntire Road in back– the apartment has views of trees and grass and little else, fooling visitors for a moment into thinking they're miles away from the urban center.

A slate patio leads to a wide-open living room– no coat closet, no foyer, none of the usual built-in clutter. Blood-red walls, unusual recessed lighting, a startling piece of sculpture that turns out to be the fireplace screen, and huge windows and sliding doors make the space seem almost museum-like. A built-in slate-topped bookcase along one wall completes the impression of a space for displaying treasures.

The layout of the condo is simple: on the left, the large living room is separated from the dining room by the open kitchen. 

On the right, two bedroom suites are almost identical except the master (closer to the entry) has a larger bathroom, understated with Corian counters, tile floor, and casement window. A surprise in this suite is an enormous walk-in closet/dressing area hidden from the room by louvered doors, but big enough to almost be a sewing area or nursery for folks with not so many clothes.

The second bedroom suite– the current owner is using it as a study– has a smaller closet and bath but also a private deck.

Okay, so perhaps you're stiffling a yawn and thinking, sure, two bedrooms, two baths, kitchen, dining room, living room, so what? 

Well, wake up! Consider the room separating these two suites– a room unique in our experience: a laundry room/ library!

Yes. In this large space meant to provide storage (it's the only space in the apartment without a window) the owner has built in pretty bookcases along three walls, dropped some oriental carpets to cover the linoleum, and tucked the washer/dryer discretely in one corner.

It's worth touring the condo just to see this unusual and clever use of space.

The kitchen just outside the "laundry/library" is open on two sides, contributing to the easy flow. The oak cabinets, electric stove, and laminate counters are perhaps the most prosaic part of the unit, but even without the frills and glitter in most kitchens today the room doesn't detract from the overall impression of high style.

One parking place comes with the unit– reason enough to consider it, considering the reality of downtown parking– and monthly fees seem to be reasonable at $275. For people reluctant to give up dabbling in the dirt, small plots outside the front door provide space for plants, and a little storage cubby there provides place for all the digging forks and Miracle Gro packages.

Big, light, airy, private– nice but not unique. Buyers looking for downtown convenience and upscale design have lots of options in the new places we mentioned. But laundry/library? Now you're talking one of a kind.



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