Historic Structures

Christian Hauge House, Washington DC

Date added: November 3, 2010 Categories: House

Christian Hauge, born in Christiana, Norway in April 1862, began his diplomatic career in 1889 as an attache to the legation of Norway and Sweden at London. He then served as attache in Paris and Berlin; and as acting first secretary in the legations at Paris, Copenhagen, Berlin, and St. Petersburg.

Hauge came to Washington, D.C. in 1901 as Secretary of the Legation for Norway and Sweden. When Norway peacefully gained independence from Sweden in 1905, Christian Hauge became Norway's first minister to the United States.

In 1906 George Oakley Totten, Jr., designed 2349 Massachusetts Avenue, which according to floor plans published in the 1907 Architectural Annual was to serve as a residence and legation offices for Christian Hauge. The house was completed in June 1907. In November, Mr. and Mrs. Hauge left Washington for a three month vacation in London, Paris and Norway. They visited Paris "for the express purpose of selecting furnishings and decorations for their new home on Massachusetts Avenue." One month later, Christian Hauge died on a snowshoeing trip near Christiana, Norway.

Mrs. Hauge returned to Washington and lived in the new residence on Massachusetts Avenue. Thus, the intended legation "became instead the home of Madame Hauge during the years of her social prominence, and the scene of much of Washington's most brilliant entertaining". (The Mayflower's Log, October 1927) Upon her death in 1927, the house was left to her brother James Ross Todd of Louisville, Kentucky.

The building remained vacant for two years until the Todds sold it to the Czechoslovak Republic for about $250,000 (according to an article in The Evening Star, 3-16-29). Deeds indicate that the Czechoslovakian government assumed a deed of trust for $165,000, which does not eliminate the possibility that more money was involved in the transaction. The house served as the Czechoslovakian Embassy, even through World War II when the ambasador refused to surrender it to the Nazi German government. In September 1969 the Embassy was moved to 2612 Tilden Street, N.W., and the Massachusetts Avenue building was left vacant until sold in January 1972 to the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The Cameroon government spent an estimated $500,000 for the property and the renovation and redecoration of the residence.

Including its two story, 30'-0" deep east wing, the three-and-one-half story structure measures 67'-9" in three bays along Massachusetts Avenue and 36'-8" along its single bay 24th Street elevation. The building depth, perpendicular to the avenue, is 65'-8". The height of its single bay, circular tower is 65*-0". The one story, northwest addition measures 40'-0" on 24th Street and 33'-9" on S Street.

Floor plans: The main stair is on axis with the southwest vestibule and entrance hall. Closets, with access from the hall, flank the vestibule. The east salon and west lounge flank the entrance hall. Beyond the lounge is the reception room and the addition. To the northeast, a corridor links the entrance hall to the furnace and storage rooms. At the northwest a second corridor gives access to the elevator and reception room.

From the main stair, the second-floor foyer gives access to the east dining room, the south drawing room and the west library. The east bay of the two bay dining room is over the garage. The shorter dimension is punctuated by fluted Ionic columns. The drawing-room west bay is formed by the tower. The west elevator corridor leads to the library. All three rooms are connected by way of the drawing room. The dining room gives access to the pantry, the kitchen and the service stairs at the northeast.

Both the main stair and the servants' stair ascend to the third and fourth, floors, which are arranged in bedroom suites and northeast servants' quarters.