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Sale of Part of the Famed Evermay Estate Brings Back Flood of Memories

2723 Q Street Was the Home of CIA Chief Allen Dulles in the 50’s…and later Erskine Bowles

Reading about the reported sale of 2723 Q St. in Georgetown for “close to $4-miilion” the other day triggered a flood of memories, like the winter afternoon I skidded in my 1954 Chevrolet and narrowly missed slamming into the CIA director and the Secretary of State in the Eisenhower administration.

Allen Dulles, who headed the CIA, lived with his family at 2723 Q in those days and his brother, Secretary of State John Foster, often came over to visit. The two were standing just outside the narrow driveway next door at where my Great Aunt was the caretaker and lived with her sister in small apartment attached to the Dumbarton mansion at 2715 Q St.

Fortunately, I skidded to a stop before hitting either of the Dulles brothers or the large brick wall fronting Dumbarton House. Otherwise, who knows? The course of history might have been changed.

Things were vastly different back in the late 1950’s. It’s hard to imagine the CIA director and Secretary State standing on a Georgetown Street, chatting casually without any Secret Service protection these days.

During my high school days in the late 1950’s, I was a regular visitor at Dumbarton House, run by the Colonial Dames of America, where both of my Great Aunts, Emily and Nannie Chase, lived for about a decade.  (When my father, an Army officer, was transferred to Hawaii, I lived there for a few months while finishing high school at Wakefield in Arlington and working the night shift as a sportswriter at the old Washington Daily News.)

So, it caught my eye when the classic house next door to Dumbarton House was sold, one of three transactions involving parts of the famed Evermay Estate, which reportedly is on the market itself for $29-million. 

The sale of 2723 Q St. was part of a deal where three notable Georgetown properties were sold by Harry Belin, whose grandfather Lammot Belin bought Evermay in 1923. The other properties recently sold by Belin were 2727 Q St. and 1001 28th St. according to a report in Washington Life Magazine.

You can read more details on the iconic Evermay property on the plaque in front of the main mansion on 28th Street, just down the street from Montrose Park. 

But 2723Q St. is the Evermay house that I remember best. Even though I never set foot on the property,  I recall seeing famed guests—and presumably some CIA spooks too—go in and out of the place to meet with Allan Dulles, often clad in a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe. On occasion there were large parties inside the house and we could see the guests from our perch in the apartment living room next door.

More recently, I learned that Erskine Bowles of current Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction fame (or notoriety, depending upon your view) lived at 2723 Q St. during his years serving as chief of staff for former President Clinton. Anybody know what Bowles paid to rent the place?

Nice thing about Georgetown even today: you just never know who you might bump into on the street.

Dumbarton House July 26, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Like Mr. Chase's great aunts, I had the privilege of living in the "west wing" of Dumbarton House as a caretaker. My sojourn was in the late 1980s, a two-year dream for a young woman in her late 20s who loved stately old houses that reeked of generations, history and mystery (plus, my housemate/fellow caretaker and I had some awesome parties). Unlike the Chase sisters, I am not a member of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA.org), but Mrs. F. Lammot Belin, my Evermay neighbor during my caretaking tenure, was. Once, I received a call from one of Mrs. Belin's fellow NSCDA members who said that Mrs. Belin was without a driver and needed a ride, inquiring if I might possibly be available. Thus, I became Mrs. Belin's spontaneous chauffeur on a few needed occasions. I came to know her but little but she was always kind. If she cared that she was being squired around in the cheapest little tin can of a car I could afford at the time, she was gracious enough not to let on. She'd fold her still-lanky frame into the front seat, and off we would go, with me picking her up at the grand entrance of Evermay and dropping her off to her quick errands, or for social occasions. Once, I helped Mrs. Belin unfold herself from my tiny car’s snug passenger seat at the front of the red-carpeted Kennedy Center entrance, was thanked politely for my neighborly service, then watched her walk regally away as if she'd just stepped out of a Bentley – a grand Dame, indeed.
JORGE GOMEZ August 31, 2011 at 01:32 AM
As per the previous comments, the sale of "Evermay" bing back memories of the mid 60' as a young butler at Evermay. I remember serving lunch in several occasions to Allen Dulles and Richard Helms. I remember driving their Chevrolet Station Wagon and the smiles of the people on he street reacting to the car DC tag "AWOL" presented by the Georgetown Citizens Association to Captain Bilen. I remember my first Christmas at Evermay and the time spent with Mrs Bilen decorating the house. The arrival in time for the Christmas Dinner of a young Lt. jg Harry Bilen just graduated from the U.S.Naval Academy. Also remember the times I talked to Senator Ted Kennedy (the next door neighbor) when he and his son walked their dog passing the entrance gate on 28th St. Great family.....Great House......endless remembrances

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