Tilden Gardens condo offered for $2.6 million

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Upscale homes for sale in the DC region

Tilden Gardens Condominium | The condominium at Tilden Gardens was once a restaurant known as the Tilden Gardens Cafe. It is listed at just under 2.6 million dollars. (Connie Gauthier)

John Rupp gives all the credit to his daughter Megan for finding this condo in Tilden Gardens in DC’s Cleveland Park neighborhood. Rupp and his wife, Maureen O’Bryon, had sold their house on Fessenden Street in Northwest Washington and downsized to a condo in another building. But it didn’t work.

Rupp said Megan’s motivation was purely personal.

“These people have complained for too long about giving up a house, having to walk down a hallway to the apartment and not having any outdoor space. Living room [is] too small,” Rupp said of her daughter’s mindset. “I’ve got to get them off my back. I’ll find them somewhere they want.”

The apartment was not so much the problem as the road to get there.

“The part I didn’t like at all is that you had to enter the apartment by going through the main lobby, which was very beautiful, but then up the elevator and down a long hallway,” he said. “I had the feeling that I was a rat in a box.”

The solution was a one-of-a-kind apartment at Tilden Gardens, a six-building complex on a five-acre triangular lot off Connecticut Avenue NW. In his 1988 book, “Best Addresses,” about Washington’s upscale apartment buildings, James M. Goode described Tilden Gardens as “the city’s most innovative large apartment building built in the 1920s.” Until Watergate arrived in the 1960s, Tilden Gardens was the largest luxury co-op apartment complex in Washington.

Condo vs. co-op: Know the differences before you buy one

This apartment was originally a restaurant in the main building. Tilden Gardens Cafe opened its doors in 1929. Judith and Milton Viorst reviewed it in their 1970 guide to Washington’s better restaurants: “If your definition of gourmet food includes a beautiful pot roast or a homemade custard…then you will be thoroughly impressed with the excellent variety of high quality dishes available at this restaurant.”

Despite that review, the restaurant closed its doors not long after, and the space was leased to the Daughters of the American Revolution until 2005. Two years later, realtor Ed Carp bought it and converted it into an apartment. Carp sold it to Rupp and his wife in 2013. The apartment met many of their requirements.

“It has an outside entrance, so we didn’t feel like it was an apartment,” Rupp said. “I kind of had the feeling that it was a house attached to a flat with the benefits of a reception out the back door, someone to take deliveries, someone to look after things.”

Rupp and O’Bryon undertook an extensive renovation. They installed wood floors, a gas fireplace and octagonal skylights in the main room. They added a library, a fourth bedroom and laundry facilities. They remodeled the kitchen and enlarged the bedroom windows.

But they left many of the period features, such as the beams and arches in the main room. “What we didn’t change is what attracted us to it in the first place,” Rupp said.

They also added a private terrace. Karper had negotiated the right to build the terrace, but never got around to it. “The previous owner, the guy who did the conversion, he was pretty smart,” Rupp said.

Not only did they have their own private outdoor space, but they also had Tilden Gardens’ large lawn.

“The other thing we liked about the apartment is that if you go outside, you have the gardens of Tilden Gardens, which is a great place to sit, read a book, meet friends,” Rupp said. “We lost our garden [at the Fessenden Street house]but we have acquired the terrace and hectares of green space.”

Rupp said the 3,600-square-foot home in many ways offered the benefits of living in an apartment and a house. He and his wife could travel and not worry, knowing that someone was watching over their home, and they could entertain large gatherings.

“We’ve had 125 people,” Rupp said. “It didn’t feel crowded.”

Rupp, who lives most of the year in Europe, has been less likely to return to Washington since his wife died in October, which is why he has decided to sell.

“I’m there one or two days a year,” he said. “It makes no sense for me to hold on to it.”

The four-bedroom, three-bathroom condo is listed for just under $2.6 million. The monthly fees are $2,455.

3000 Tilden St. NW, Unit 1-I, Washington, DC

  • Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4/3
  • Approximate square meters: 3,600
  • Share fee: $2,455 per month
  • Features: This condo in Tilden Gardens was once a restaurant known as the Tilden Gardens Cafe. It was converted into an apartment in 2007. Although the apartment is attached to the main building, no one lives above or below the unit. The apartment can be reached through the main entrance or private entrance. Parking can be rented.
  • Listing Agent: Nancy Itteilag and Chris Itteilag, Washington Fine Properties

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