When it was first built, the rowhouse in Kalorama drew comparisons to a tomato can. In its most recent iteration, the tomato can is more Andy Warhol than Campbell’s soup.
According to a history of the home prepared by Kelsey & Associates, W. Wadsworth Wood thought about constructing a hotel behind the three houses he owned on 21st Street NW around the end of World War II. Instead, he chose to build a circular building that would serve as a clubhouse and residence for single military men.
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Even though Wood was an architect, he hired Harvard-trained architect Angelo R. Clas to design the building. Clas was responsible for many buildings in Washington, including the original structure of the International Monetary Fund, the Statler Hotel (now Capital Hilton) and the Wyatt Building. Gladys Miller, who decorated Blair House, designed the interior.
The design of the Officer’s Service Club was intended to maximize space and was considered innovative for its time. Both The Washington Post and the Washington Evening Star dubbed the building “Tomato Can” because of its shape. A central circular staircase led to pie-shaped rooms on each floor. The rooms shared adjoining bathrooms. A large banquet room on the ground floor was the scene of dances, dinners and lectures for several decades. A September 1944 Evening Star article noted the club was equipped with a refrigerator that could hold 30 cases of beer.
“We got one that keeps the inside of the refrigerator dry so that in case the admiral calls for a beer and the waitress is in a hurry and forgets to wipe it, why the bottle is still dry,” R.S. Byrd, general superintendent of the property, told the Evening Star.
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The Officer’s Service Club purchased the building from Wood in 1955. It sold it to the Conservative Club in 1978. In 1990, the building was converted to a duplex by the Robert M. Gurney architectural firm.
The firm returned about five years ago to update the living space by tearing down walls to create an open floor plan. The new design embraces the semicircular footprint, providing an awareness of its unusual geometry from all vantage points.
Dark stained oak flooring serves as a visual counterpoint to crisp white walls that are punctuated by the steel windows and doors.
A glass bay was added to introduce more natural light into the space. Glass from the bay was extended onto the outdoor terrace to provide light to the lower level. The terrace space becomes an extension of the living space, creating an outdoor room with a cooking, dining and seating area. Translucent glass panels and a steel wall ensure privacy.
The design won several awards including Builder’s Choice & Custom Home grand award in 2016 and AIA Washington, D.C., merit award in 2013.
The three-bedroom, four-bathroom, 3,100-square-foot home is listed at $2.85 million. The homeowners association fee is $487 monthly. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.
Listing: 2401 R St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Listing agent: Bob Mathew, Long & Foster
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