Anyone Know What’s Going on with the awesome old Morris House?


“Dear PoPville,

Today while on a walk through Rock Creek Park, I came across an enormous, beautiful Tudor house on the corner of Linnean Ave and Tilden St. It looked like it could be a swanky private prep school until we got closer and realized it was abandoned and in a total state of disrepair.

After some Googling we discovered that this is the Morris House, originally home to former socialite and “unofficial host of the city” Edgar Morris and his wife Beronica. Even more intriguingly, it was purchased by the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1973 and has been owned by the DRC since. It served as the ambassador’s residence until 1995, when the ambassador lost his post – but he continued to live there until 2005 as a caretaker.

Since then, it has been empty and unused, though there are holes in the fences and windows that suggest it has been explored. It was designated a historic DC site in March 2010.

Here and here are more pictures. The address is 4001 Linnean Ave NW. There is a new-ish looking dumpster and portapotty on the grounds, so I’m not sure if there’s work being done.

I thought you might be interested in this – or possibly know more? I’d love to hear it if you do!”


16 Comment

  • maxwell smart

    I don’t know details about this property but I had heard that there are actually a number of places around the District that were purchased by other countries as Embassy locations that have now been abandoned but the state department can’t really do anything about it because it’s technically no longer on US soil.

  • The DRC Embassy sat empty at New Hampshire and S NW from about 1995 until a couple of years ago, when it was renovated. It was a mess inside before renovation. The Congolese Civil Wars probably had something to do with why their diplomatic posts were abandoned for so long. Now that the country is more stable they fixed up their old embassy and perhaps they are now moving on to the residence.

  • I admit I climbed through a hole in the fence of that house once to explore a bit from the outside. It’s beautiful.

  • This is my favorite house in the whole city. It looks like Hogwarts or something. There have been some kind of contractor signs out front for several years, but nothing has happened. Every time I drive by there are more and more broken windows. Must be a hot mess inside… shame!

  • austindc

    Beronica is an awesome name, like a woman who is part bear, part harmonica.

  • I live in the neighborhood and walk by there fairly often. I haven’t seen any work being done in the last couple years.
    The fence is really no barrier, so probably the only reason it hasn’t been occupied by drug dealers or other characters is because there isn’t much else around, it is such a strenuous, uphill walk back to Connecticut Avenue.

  • I wonder if the lack of activity or selling has something to do with the sanctions against the DCR?

  • This place has needed help since 1993 when I moved to Mt. Pleasant and went by the area weekly.

  • For those interested in a some light Friday reading, here’s the court case regarding the property. IANAL, but seems like a company that the DRC owed money to tried to seize the property to pay their outstanding debts.$file/05-7098a.pdf

  • DC tax records show that the house is owned by Daniel Szente. He bought it in 1997 and is currently receiving the homestead deduction which is granted to those DC residents who own and occupy their property as a principal residence. Sounds fishy.

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