Historic Structures

Cookes Row, Villa 3, Washington DC

Date added: November 21, 2010 Categories: House

In its park-like setting, Cooke's Row forms an impressive series of large scale, formal Victorian mansions. Of the four double villas, 3013 and 3015 Q Street specifically represent the Italianate style.

Henry David Cooke (1825-1881), after running a newspaper in Ohio, came to Washington during the Civil War to manage the office of Jay Cooke and Company. This was one of the most prominent banking firms of the period, and had been found by his brother. Henry Cooke was responsible for having Congress authorize the construction of the first street railway in the District and became the president of the Georgetown Street Railway Company in 1862. Shortly thereafter he resigned to become president of the First National Bank of Washington. President Grant appointed Henry Cooke the first territorial governor of the District in 1871; he resigned from this position in 1873 because of the failure of the firm of Jay Cooke. Cooke's own Georgetown residence was the Dodge House at 30th and Q Streets, which he purchased from Francis Dodge, Jr. in 1857. According to legend, he built Cooke's row to established residences for his twelve children.

The Georgetown Assessments of 1871 show an assessment on the land for each of the villas at $1200 and the value of the improvements at $10,000.

The following description of the villas is taken from The Evening Star, June 30, 1869:

"These beautiful residences are set back from the street 25 feet upon lots 43' x 140' deep, thus affording beautiful front and side yards, which will he graded two feet (three steps) above the sidewalk, and terraced up from a level, leaving a walk inside the front fence, which fence will be composed of a 2 foot high faced brick wall with a neat iron railing.

The buildings will be elevated above the terrace four feet to the principal floor and are two stories and French attic high for four of them in the French style of architecture, in the Italian style.

The houses contain each two parlors, connected with sliding doors, a library, a dining room, butler's closet, servant's hall, and stairs, with all modern improvements and appurtenances (besides the spacious hall and stairs opening on tasty porches) in the principal stories which are twelve feet high in the clear. The kitchens which are located in the basement, are ample, and communicate directly with the butler's closet, adjoining the fine dining room, by means of a dumb-waiter. The kitchen and butler's closets have every convenience and are supplied with hot and cold water as also are the bathrooms in the second stories.

The second story of each house, 11 feet high, contains four fine chambers, closets, water closets, bathroom, dressing room, servants' hall stairs, etc. while the attics have each 4-5 good chambers. There is a cellar under each house its entire size.

These villas are of brick and are to be painted some warm mellow tint and sanded. The walls are open, with a 3-inch air space from the bottom of the cellar to their tops, thus securing a dry house in wet weather, and warm one in cold weather and cool one in warm weather. All the exterior decorations, except the main cornices, will be formed of fancy moulded bricks, similar to the dressing of the Theological Seminary in Fairfax County, Va., which was designed and built by Mr. Starkweather of this firm just before the Rebellion.

The outline of these superb residences is varied and picturesque while the details are constructed and arranged in a manner displaying great skill and refined taste in art of design both as pertains to grace and ease of outline originality, novelty and effective beauty in detail; but also great economy of outlay, a very important item in the District. These houses cannot be surrounded and hemmed in on either side and they adjoin the beautiful and picturesque grounds of Mr. Henry D, Cooke who is also having constructed by the same gentlemen one of the most spacious and elegant mansions this side of Philadelphia."

3013 and 3015 Q Street are numbers three and four respectively of Cooke's Row located on the north side of Q Street between 30th and 31st Street and with the party wall approximately 205' along Q Street from the center line of 30th Street. The two and one half story brick double house has an 48' street front (south) and a depth of the 19th century portion of about 73'.

The basic plan of each half of the "cottage villa" is a simple row house type with full depth stair hall at the party wall, and along the side a series of rooms staged from more public at the south to less public to the north. The 12' tall first floor contains a parlor, a sitting room, a dining room, a butler's closet and a kitchen addition.

The second floor of 3015 contains three bedrooms and a bath at the southeast corner at the main level and a library and a bath on the lower floor level (about 3 1/2' lower) over the butler's closet at the north.

The third floor of 3015 has four bedrooms and a bath at the southeast at the end of the hall.

The full basement contains laundry and storage rooms at present, and probably originally housed a kitchen. This would have been connected to the butler's pantry above by a dumbwaiter about 1 1/2' square, the shaft of which is still to be seen in 3013.