Historic Structures

Wilkins House (Peruvian Emabassy), Washington DC

Date added: October 6, 2010 Categories: House

Originally a private residence, and The Australian Embassy from 1947-73, this semidetached building, subtly designed in the 16th-century manner of Italian classicism, is related to the intersection of 17th Street and Massachusetts Avenue by an entrance facade set diagonally to the two principal street elevations. Special attention is drawn to interior details, such as on the stair, paneling, and doors, which are similar to those used at 2200 Massachusetts Avenue.

Overall dimensions: The four-story-plus-basement structure measures 59'-6" from sidewalk to cornice cap. The three-bay, 39'-2" wide, entrance facade breaks forward diagonally to the three-bay, 43'-0" east elevation (17th Street) and the three bay, 24'-6" north elevation (Massachusetts Avenue). The building depth from the entrance facade is approximately 56'-0".

Floor plans: The obtuse-angled plan is formed by the street elevations flanking the diagonal entrance facade which faces the street intersection. On axis with the ground floor vestibule is the central entrance hall and main stair. Immediately upon entering the entrance hall are flanking north and south lounges contained within the triangles formed by the reception room to the northwest and the serving rooms to the south. Each lounge has a lavatory and closet. A trapezoidal antehall gives access from the entrance hall to the northwest reception room. At the southwest is an elevator, and the service rooms and stair.

Over the ground floor entrance hall, and on axis with the main stair, is the first floor central foyer and drawing room. From the foyer, a trapezoidal antehall leads into the north library and a corridor leads to the southeast dining room and the southwest service area. Triangular areas are left between the three main spaces. The triangular areas are designed as an anteroom connecting the drawing room and library, and an antehall and room-with-safe connecting the drawing and dining rooms.

Principal bedrooms and baths are on the second floor where a plain staircase over the drawing room continues to the third floor servants' quarters.