A grand home on 16th Street from 1894 that's served many lives is taking on a new one as the Congolese Embassy. Currently under contract, the home is listed at $5.75 million and is a short sale.
Built in 1894 for $40,000, the home was designed by William Henry Miller for Supreme Court Justice Henry Brown, who lived in the home until his death in 1913. After stints as home of the Persian Legation and the American Zionist Organization (not simultaneously), the Toutorsky clan bought the house to use as a conservatory, the role it served for forty years, until it was bequeathed to The Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins in 1988.
The school sold it, after which it eventually landed in the hands of the current owner, Humberto Gonzalez, who bought the home for $2.2 million in 2001. Gonzalez, who has at times run a bed and breakfast out of the mansion, listed the home for sale in 2008 before contracting with the Congolese - that's Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, i.e. led by Joseph Kabila - not its junior neighbor to the west.
Should things go as planned, the embassy will vacate its current digs at 1726 M Street, NW, for a 6,700 s.f. lot with 12,000 s.f. of space. In the meantime, the embassy requested, then withdrew, a plan for a circular driveway, which would have had to go through zoning adjustment.
As filed with the BZA by the embassy's lawyer on February 9th, "Time is of the essence in the completion of this Chancery application in order to meet the short sale agreement deadline with the Bank of America. The President and CEO of the America [sic], personally, has gone to great lengths on behalf of the Republic of the Congo to facilitate and expedite this short sale transaction. The inability to timely complete this transaction with the Bank of America would be an embarrassment to the government of the Republic of the Congo."