A popular perk for residents of DC is trick-or-treating up Embassy Row, primarily located along Massachusetts Avenue in the Northwest Quadrant. Juxtaposed in this neighborhood is an eclectic mix of modern embassies influenced by the architectural styles of their home nations and Victorian-era residences housing embassies with smaller diplomatic presences. Many of these historic buildings were the residences of millionaires, influential artists, and important government officials — including several future and former Presidents during the early 20th century. A majority of their original occupants were driven out during the Great Depression, leading to many embassies buying up the properties. Built during a construction boom after Congress’ expansion of Washington in 1893, these buildings feature many architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
But standing in the middle of gorgeous Colonial Revivalism and Beaux Arts properties lies this decrepit looking building:
That is the former Embassy of Pakistan, located in 2201 R St, NW. These properties frequently change hands as foreign nations increase their diplomatic presence in the United States and move on to larger buildings. The Pakistanis moved to a beautiful French Classicism building at 2315 Massachusetts Avenue:
And ultimately created their own purpose-built embassy at 3517 International Court:
Influenced by the cultural flourishes of their home country like the UNESCO World Heritage Site Naulakha Pavilion:
But back to this:
This building, employing a Renaissance Revival style, was built in 1906 by John McGregor and designed by George Oakley Totten, Jr. who was renown for building many of Dupont and Embassy Row’s historic buildings. It was known as the Gardner Frederick Williams House, named for the mining engineer and author who laid the technical foundations for the De Beers diamond mining cartel operations in South Africa. Along with Williams, the house’s other famous occupants include Representative Ira Clifton Copley, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen L. H. Slocum (a military attache to Britain during World War I), and Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. The building is a contributing property to the Sheridan-Kalorama Historic District and is part of a listing on the National Register of Historic Places since 1989.
The building was initially abandoned in 2009 for renovations, still under the Pakistani government’s possession, but work has been slow to almost nonexistent. Adjacent to this run-down building are the comparatively affluent embassies of Guatemala, Armenia, Cyprus, Niger, and the Dominican Republic. In front of the abandoned embassy is the Brazilian Aeronautical Commission. Check out the Google Street View of the intersection of 22nd and R Streets (the images were taken in 2008, pre-abandonment).
So the next time you go trick-or-treating at Embassy Row be sure to check out an abandoned embassy along the way. And particularly adventurous souls may want to also check out the building’s interior (here are some blueprints):