Last Sunday, those interested in everything from architecture to foreign cultures and everything in between had the opportunity to attend the annual Kalorama House and Embassy Tour, organized by The President Woodrow Wilson House. Visitors had the option to tour six different embassies and a private residence on S Street. They enjoyed refreshments, a jazz ensemble, and an open-house atmosphere at the President Woodrow Wilson House, which is also located on S Street.
Crystal Chandelier, a jazz ensemble, provided live music at the President Woodrow Wilson House on Sunday.
The Kalorama neighborhood of Washington D.C. was named by Joel Barlow, a poet who moved into the area in 1808. “Kalorama” is Greek for “a beautiful view.” Since the early nineteenth century Kalorama neighborhood was a largely undeveloped, suburban area overlooking downtown D.C., Barlow thought that the name suited the area quite well.
President Wilson and his wife, Mrs. Edith Wilson, moved into the neighborhood in 1921 after leaving the White House, making the Wilsons the first and only presidential couple to make Washington their permanent residence after leaving office. Their home on S Street, now The President Woodrow Wilson House, was a stately four story mansion that was grand enough to receive guests, but still quiet enough President Wilson could rest, recuperate (he had suffered from a stroke during his second term) and enjoy a peaceful retirement. Waddy Woods built the Wilson house in the Georgian Revival style, one several popular styles of architecture in the neighborhood. Kalorama is also home to examples of Beaux Arts, Mediterranean, and other interesting and beautiful architectural styles.
Guests had the opportunity to enjoy refreshments and music in the back garden at the President Woodrow Wilson House.
The area continued to develop and urbanize throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the streetcar and other transportation systems transformed D.C. into the modern city that it is today. However, it was not until the Great Depression hit the United States 1929 that the beautiful embassies and ambassadorial residences that visitors had the chance to tour last Sunday began to show up in Kalorama. After the stock market crash, many of the area’s wealthier families and homeowners hit hard times and were forced to sell their homes. In many cases, those home were bought by the U.S. government, who transformed the buildings into foreign embassies.
Among the stops on the tour was the Cultural Center at the Korean Embassy. Visitors were able to see beautiful art, try Korean food, wear traditional Korean clothing, and learn about Korean culture.
The 2014 Kalorama House and Embassy Tour allowed visitors a special chance to explore parts of this beautiful and historic neighborhood that are not generally open to the public. However, the area is always a wonderful place to take a quiet walk and admire the houses and imposing architecture of the modern embassies. Of course, while you are in the area, be sure to visit The President Woodrow Wilson House on S Street!
Shilpi Paul, “Kalorama: A Posh View From Embassy Row,” D.C. Urban Turf