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Bliss Apartment – 1785 Massachusetts Avenue

Bliss Apartment – 1785 Massachusetts Avenue

Bliss Apartment. Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.PH.Misc.001

James N. Carder (September 2012)

Between 1920 and 1923, while Dumbarton Oaks underwent extensive renovations, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss resided at an apartment at 1785 Massachusetts Avenue, now the headquarters of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Designed in 1916 by Jules Henri de Sibour in a Beaux-Arts classical style, this was one of Washington's first luxury apartment buildings. Each of its six apartments typically had a 24- by 45-foot living room, a dining room, a reception foyer, a salon, six bedrooms with four adjoining baths, cedar closets, five maids rooms and two maids baths, a servants dining room, a kitchen, a butler’s pantry, 18 closets, and six fireplaces. Moreover, each apartment featured fabric-covered walls, herringbone parquet wood flooring, carved marble fireplace mantels, and solid mahogany doors with brass hardware. The ceiling height was 14 1/2 feet. The millionaire industrialist Andrew Mellon also resided at "1785 Mass," in an apartment on the floor above the Blisses’ apartment. It is recorded that the Blisses visited Mellon on several occasions to view his painting collection, later given to establish the National Gallery. A set of five photographs (AR.PH.Misc.001-05) (at the right and below) in the Dumbarton Oaks Archives documents the Bliss apartment and their artworks and furnishings, many of which still remain at Dumbarton Oaks.

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