Historic Structures

Crawford-Cassin House, Washington DC

Date added: December 10, 2010 Categories: House

Documents as early as 1818 refer to the house as a "mansion." It is one of the few houses in Georgetown that still retains the two story side porch. Architectural evidence indicates the original entry may possibly have been on the east (porch) side. At one time the gardens of the property extended to 30th Street to the east and to P Street on the north. The house is still accessible from P Street by a private driveway. Early in the 20th century the building was altered and enlarged to be used as a private school. Today it is again a private residence.

Sarah Crawford was the first known occupant of this home.

Commander Stephen Cassin, the second known occupant of the house, was an important naval officer. He was born in Philadelphia in 1783 and entered the Navy in 1800. For his brave action in the battle of Lake Champlain in the war of 1812, he was awarded a gold medal by Congress in 1814. Later he became the master-commandant of an 18-gun sloop-of-war, Peacock, and captured five pirate ships in the West Indies. Commander Cassin was married to the daughter of an English army officer. Captain Abernethy. He died in Georgetown, August 29, 1857.

Beverly Mason was the first occupant to use the house as a school. In 1893 she opened her school, Gunston Hall, in this house, but moved elsewhere after only one year. From 1911 to 1918 the St. Agnes School for Girls was in the house. Then in 1919 two Episcopal sisters opened the School of the Epiphany. A report on the school at the Bishop's office of the Washington National Cathedral dated May 31, 1920, gives the following as the purpose of the school: "...to meet the needs of persons of moderate means..." and reports that there were four teachers and thirty-two female pupils. The school was run "by the hard labor of the Sisters of the Epiphany."

Mr. Ray Atherton who purchased the house in 1942 was a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. He was the acting chief of the European Division of the Department of State, 1940-1943, then first American Ambassador to Canada. After retiring from the Foreign Service in 1948, he was appointed an alternate delegate to the United States delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Meeting, Paris, 1948. Mr. Atherton died in 1960.

This three story brick residence faces south onto O Street, between 30th and 31st Streets, with its east wall approximately 170' to the west of the centerline of 30th Street. The main block of the house is approximately 34' deep and the three-story northwest wing is approximately 18' 6" by 38'. The O Street facade is four bays wide and is 37' in length.

The basement of the main block is divided into four unequal areas: the southwest contains the heating plant, the northeast has a brick herringbone floor, while the other three have concrete floors. The original masonry partition between the northwest and southwest spaces has been removed and replaced with a heavy steel lintel. The first floor of the main block (12' in floor to ceiling height) has a drawing room across the east end, a small study in the southwest corner, and an entry hall between the drawing room and study leading to the stair hall in the northwest corner. A small powder room has been added to the north of the small study. The northeast wing (8' 10" floor to ceiling) has its floor 7" below that of the main block and contains a library opening off the large drawing room, leading into the dining room in the northeast corner. The northwest wing contains a sewing room opening off the stair hall, a pantry, and the kitchen. The second floor of the main block (11' 5" in floor to ceiling height) has bedrooms in the southeast and south-west corners, a bath in the northeast corner (with its floor raised 7"), and the stairhall in the northwest corner. The second floor of the northwest wing (8' 9" in floor to ceiling height) has its floor 7" below that of the main block and has a room across the north end, a hall along the west side with a stair down to the kitchen, a bedroom in the center of the east elevation, another bedroom south of that, and a bath against the main block. The third floor of the main block (10' 5" in floor to ceiling height) has bedrooms in the northeast, southeast, and southwest corners, each with an adjoining bath, and a stairhall in the northwest corner. The third floor of the northwest wing has a bedroom across the rear with a bath to the south, a hall along the west side, and a store room adjoining the main block.