Historic Structures

Alexander Stewart House (Embassy of Luxembourg), Washington DC

Date added: January 19, 2011 Categories: House

Alexander Stewart was born in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada on September 12th, 1829. In 1849 he moved to Wausau, Wisconsin where he was employed by a small lumber company. He rose to manager and eventually, through investments, gained control of "a great deal of lumber land in Wisconsin and Michigan" and some of the western states. (The Washington Post, 5-25-12) Active in politics, Stewart was a delegate to the 1884 Republican National Convention; and from 1895 through 1901, he served three terms as a United States Congressman from Wisconsin.

In 1908 his wife, Margaret Gray Stewart, purchased a lot at 2200 Massachusetts Avenue for $20,000. Shortly afterwards, Alexander Stewart was issued a permit to build a $92,000 residence on this site.

May 24, 1912 Mr. Stewart died at his home - leaving his wife, Margaret, and three daughters: Mrs. Margaret Lindsay, Miss Mary Stewart, and Miss Helen G. Stewart (later Mrs. Daniel Devore).

Mrs. Margaret G. Stewart continued to live in the house until her death around 1931. According to the city directories, her daughter Mary lived there through 1937 and then left the house vacant until she sold it three years later.

Luxembourg established their Legation in Washington in 1940 at the Shoreham Hotel. April 4, 1940 M. Hughes Le Gallais presented his credentials as Charge D'Affaires to Secretary of State Hull. In November of the same year, his status was raised to that of Minister. The Legation received embassy status in 1955.

The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, H. R. H. Charlotte, purchased 2200 Massachusetts Avenue from Mary E. Stewart in March 1941 "for and in consideration of Forty thousand (40,000) Dollars." (Deed recorded March 8, 1941 in Liber 7578, folio 222.) Miss Stewart evidently settled for far less than the property was worth, since its total assessed value in 1941 was $104,118 (ground: $27,118; improvements: $77,000). (Lusk's D. C. Assessment Directory Service, 1941) The Grand Duchess did not live in the house, but spent her time in Montreal and London, where her ministers in exile were located during the German occupation of her country. The house was used instead by the Luxembourg Legation, which moved its residence and chancery there in 1941.

The Times-Herald reported on October 9, that "The Dowager Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Maria Anna, is at her country's legation on Massachusetts Avenue for an indefinite stay." The Dowager Grand Duchess was 80 years old at the time, and was to die in September 1942.

In January 1962, the government of Luxembourg bought another building, 2210 Massachusetts Avenue, to serve as the chancery. Three months later, the government acquired The Grand Duchess Charlotte's property for $160,000 and continued to use it as the Embassy residence.

The three-and-one-half-story-plus-basement structure measures 60'-0" from north sidewalk to roof ridge. The five bay south elevation (Q Street) is 93'-2"; the two bay east elevation (22nd Street), 31'-4"; the five bay north elevation (central entrance on Massachusetts Avenue), 72'-6"; the west party wall, 30'-0"; and the single bay southwest service entrance, 32'-6".

The entrance hall, with the main stair at the west, is entered via the north vestibule. The hall has access to all major first floor rooms. In the east wall of the hall is a door to a triangular closet, the angle of which is formed by the north building wall. A double door through the east wall of the hall leads to the drawing room, which in turn is connected to a dining room. The dining room, located south of the entrance hall, leads into the pantry. The pantry connects to the service stair, and cloak and storage rooms which are directly west of the main stair and connected by a door to the entrance hall. The breakfast room, set at an acute angle to the hall, is entered from the west end of the entrance hall north wall. A lavatory, entered from the breakfast room, and a hall elevator and closet, are set between the breakfast room and north vestibule.

The main stair ascends one story to the second floor, which is similar in arrangement to the first floor and contains an east library over the drawing room and the principal bedroom suites. The family stair (located above the first floor entrance), ascends in an ellipse from the second floor to the third and fourth.

The building faces north on a lot measuring 72'-6" on the north (Massachusetts Avenue); 31'-4" on the east (22nd Street); 93'-2" on the south (Q Street); and 66'-6" on the west.