This French Neoclassical mansion was built in 1926, beautifully sited on a bluff over the Potomac River that the owner—a Midwestern heir and his wife—chose by flying over its shores in a gyrocopter. He commissioned Marwood to replicate the central wing of Malmaison, the palace Napoleon built for Empress Josephine outside Paris. The owner died shortly after moving in, but many prominent Washington families continued to live and entertain there over the decades, hosting presidents and diplomats along the way.

It had fallen into disrepair in the late 20th century, and many of its original fixtures and fittings were removed or sold during a soulless 1980s renovation. But then a new owner purchased it, and asked Barnes Vanze to recapture its original grandeur, yet also be comfortable for a family with children. Working with designer Mary Douglas Drysdale, we kept the formality of the original plan on one side of the house that contains the grand living room, a new dining room and the stair hall. We designed the other half to favor family living with a big new kitchen, a large eat-in family room; and a new, informal four-floor stairwell.

We incorporated new finishes, molding and paneling on the upper floors, which were reoriented to capture the property’s stunning river views. The only interior fixture of value, which we left intact, was the main stair rail. It was dangerously low, so we reset it at a safe height, clad the stairs in limestone, and created a raised side stringer as well. The refurbished staircase honors the home’s neoclassical roots.

Marwood was just as grand on the outside. The original house was on 200 acres with a separate garage and gatehouse. Though the property has been reduced to 13 acres, we added a new gatehouse and an underground 10-car garage that’s attached to the main house and incorporates staff accommodations. Out back, we built a new pool, reclad the pool house, and added two modern exterior pavilions to flank the 100-foot-long terrace that faces the river.

select below to viewRecognition
select below to viewTeam Leaders

Awards:

Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Awards - 2012

In the Press:

12 All-White Interiors That Deliver a Fresh Look
Dering Hall, July 5, 2014

The Historic Marwood Estate—Sleeping Beauty on the Potomac
Décor Dose Blog, April 11, 2014

Traditional Entry Halls
Dering Hall, Feb. 23, 2013

Capital Idea
Veranda, May/June 2011

Marwood Estate is Ted Leonsis’ Newest Acquisition
Curbed DC, Feb. 23, 2011

Beaux-Arts Beauty
Period Homes Magazine, November 2010

select below to viewRecognition

Awards:

Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Awards - 2012

In the Press:

12 All-White Interiors That Deliver a Fresh Look
Dering Hall, July 5, 2014

The Historic Marwood Estate—Sleeping Beauty on the Potomac
Décor Dose Blog, April 11, 2014

Traditional Entry Halls
Dering Hall, Feb. 23, 2013

Capital Idea
Veranda, May/June 2011

Marwood Estate is Ted Leonsis’ Newest Acquisition
Curbed DC, Feb. 23, 2011

Beaux-Arts Beauty
Period Homes Magazine, November 2010

select below to viewTeam Leaders
related projects