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Brighton Gardens: The Final Chapter

April 18, 2013

(Photo by: Judith Beermann) "Screw from typewriter found in box 25, July 1984. Where does it belong???"

After saving, literally, everything: receipts, bills, extracted teeth, rubber bands, letters (and their carbon copies), my Girl Scout compass, envelopes and stamps (both cancelled postage and collectible), paper clips, Mont Blanc pens, leather anything, 37 well-chewed pipes, empty cookie tins, and U.S. currency (thankfully!) … for 91 years, my father now has to decide which 200 or so volumes from his personal library to take to Brighton Gardens.

For this trilingual history professor, the selections are somewhat predictable.

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

Tap tap tap zing tap tap tap zing tap tap tap zing zzzzzzzip. Turns out that tune emanating from the Smith-Corona was not all about completing a lengthy thesis on the French Revolution. Erotica (many, many volumes of it), penned but never shared or published, nestle snugly between seven decades of diaries and Life magazines.

Recent maladies have made independent living impossible. The past 53 years he has resided in the home in which I grew up. For a man whose idea of leisure wear is a tweed Burberry jacket, striped button down shirt, sleeveless wool vest, and bow tie (in all four seasons), his graceful transition to nylon running suits, tube socks and polo shirts is nothing short of remarkable.

Puma oil painting by Rita Beermann (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Puma oil painting by Rita Beermann

He mentally reviews every room, meticulously stuffed from floor-to-ceiling with cardboard fortresses protecting his treasure troves. He zeroes in on the essentials.

“There’s a pistol upstairs in the second drawer of my bureau on the right side next to the blue socks. You have to take it to the police immediately because you can’t transport it across state lines.” A pistol?  My father with a firearm?

Well, the bullets I learned are kept in his study downstairs behind three rows deep of dusty books and a metal cabinet filled with Faroe Island stamps. The excavation has not progressed that far. Meanwhile, more surprising, the condoms found next to the pistol, expiration date 2004. And, because redundancy is his middle name, a second pistol discovered in another bedroom, also minus ammunition.

Follow the Ploetz (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Follow the Ploetz

“Don’t forget to look into the book to the left of Ploetz. There’s cash inside.” And placing money inside Ploetz is too obvious for the robbers?

“You have to call The Economist and tell them I moved.”

Three months in the hospital have taken their toll.  But when it’s 10:16 and the physical therapist said he was coming at 10:15, it’s time to be concerned that "the whole morning will be shot."

Besides the books, what tops this nonagenarian's must-have list is operatic music (starting with early Verdi), his favorite painting by my mother of a Puma (mine too), family photos, and Mont Blanc pens.

Writing Instruments (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Writing Instruments

Ok, now here's what tops the book list:

Kurt Beermann PhD Dissertation: “Reception of the French Revolution in the New York State Press 1788-1791”

Big fat French, German and English dictionaries

Histoire Universelle, Encyclopédie de la Pléiade (three volumes)

Leather-bound literature starting with Shakespeare

Merck Manual Medical Dictionary

Holy Bible in English, 1895 prayer books in Hebrew belonging to his father

Mystery stories including Sherlock Holmes and Dorothy L. Sayers

Two-volume Dictionary of Biographies (in French)

Rembrandt's Drawings

And, of course, Ploetz.

Kurt Beermann in Paris, 1946 (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Kurt Beermann in Paris, 1946

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Jacobsen's Hurricane Alley Florida Home Featured on HGTV April 14

April 9, 2013

(Photo by: jacobsenarchitecture.com)

On April 14 at 8:00 pm, watch as Jacobsen Architecture designs an all-glass home in troubled and unimprovable "Hurricane Alley" in Stuart, Florida.

Simon Jacosbsen will make a guest appearance on HGTV's Extreme Homes to talk about the Wilks Residence.

(Photo by: jacobsenarchitecture.com)

You'll recognize many signature Jacobsen design elements, but here with an eye to withstanding extreme weather conditions.

As Simon told The Georgetown Dish, "We created a multi-pavilion collection of structures unified by a common interior street that runs throughout the residence. The building's design was inspired by early 19th Century Floridian agricultural and colonial structural forms." A special freature is that the house can be quickly sealed off in the event of serious weather,"like a turtle ducking its head back in its shell."

One of the home's engineering achievements is that even though it is primarily glass with custom Jacobsen doors and windows, it meets the new strict Florida Hurricane code. All the custom designed wall and roof systems, doors and glass had to be tested privately where a high power air cannon was used to shoot 2x4s and other construction materials at it.

(Photo by: hgtv.com)


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Kimberly Casey & Daryl Judy Sell Another Significant Historic Georgetown Home

April 3, 2013

Those go-to agents from Washington Fine Properties have done it again. Kimberly Casey and Daryl Judy just sold another world-class property with Presidential provenance and more than a dollop of Georgetown history: the former Georgetown home of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s parents, Hugh D. and Janet Lee Auchincloss.

This is what Casey told The Georgetown Dish, "The search for a home of this scale, provenance and grandeur in a prime location takes time as they are so rare and most of these properties never make it to the market publicly. The buyers could not be happier and it has been my sincere privilege to help them in the process to make their dream a reality.  Further, the fact that there have been three sales in Georgetown over $7 million this year, where there were only two all of last year, says a lot about the confidence in our market."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

The story of 3044 O Street begins in 1874 with its architect, Dr. Armistead Peter, a physician, and descendant of Georgetown's first mayor Robert Peter (also owner of Tudor Place). Peter’s wife, Martha Custis Kennon, was a great-great-granddaughter of former First Lady Martha Washington.

Built in 1870, the 10,736 square-foot, three-and-a-half-story, Queen Anne-style mansion features a large drawing room, dining room, and kitchen on the first floor, nine bedrooms, seven (originally six) bathrooms and twelve fireplaces.

The building is designated as a contributing property to the Georgetown Historic District, a National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1967.

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

Next residents after the Peters were Georgetown attorney Louis Mackall and his wife, who sold the property to the Auchincloss family in 1962 for $160,000.

What sold the First Lady’s mother on the place was its "lovely deep garden with a heavenly silver maple."

Causing quite a stir, and one of the first changes the Auchinclosses made to their new home was to paint the red bricks yellow, or as Janet preferred to call it, “buff.”

The President and Jackie were there for a cocktail party in May of 1963 to celebrate Jackie’s new social secretary, Nancy Tuckerman and to wish outgoing secretary, Letitia Baldridge a fond farewell.

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

Only a few months later, 3044 O Street was the haven Jackie sought with Caroline and John after the assassination.

In 1979, the Auchinclosses sold to Jennifer and Laughlin Phillips. Phillips was a philanthropist, former CIA officer, founder of the Washingtonian magazine, and former museum director and board chairman of The Phillips Collection, which was founded by his father Duncan.

Another six degrees of presidential separation came in 2000 when former First Lady, Hillary Clinton considered purchasing the home following her election to the U.S. Senate in 2000. She later decided on a more secluded property on Observatory Circle.

Donald Roth, former World Bank executive bought the place in 2001 for $3,750,000 (Sotheby's International Realty list price was $4,395,000).

Closing price in $2013 is $8.6 million. And who are the new owners? Stay tuned.

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