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For Sale: “Antique DC Rowhouse Switch Back Stairs – $1000”

by Prince Of Petworth March 28, 2016 at 2:15 pm 57 Comments


Not sure if they’re still available but they are beautiful. Thanks to a reader for passing on from Craigslist:

“My wife and I are about to renovate a historic DC Logan Circle row home and unfortunately we will no longer have a need for the original switch back stairs.

These stairs are part of the original house which was built in 1907. They have beautiful wood paneling, which could be used for any reclaimed wood project.”

  • matt

    ha, “historic dc Logan Circle row home”, but let’s rip out the history. though Kudos for offering it up for someone who might appreciate the wood…instead of just dumping it.

    • V


  • anon

    No longer have a need for the gorgeous, historic staircase, would prefer for my home to completely lack character and charm.

    • DJFinance

      “open concept”, no doubt

  • marybindc

    This should be a crime. Seriously, what kind of person does this without a shred of self-awareness?

    • CHGal

      Someone installing a wheelchair lift.

      • Cassie

        I’d rather find some place to install an elevator or an additional staircase.

        • Mr. Magoo

          Good heavens, call an architect ASAP. There has to be a better way than this. A hundred years from now people will not be marveling at the workmanship of a wheelchair lift.

        • anonymous

          My thoughts exactly. And a house with this ornate staircase is probably large enough to allow for the installation of a small elevator somewhere past the staircase. I’m sure they just don’t think this old, brown wood fits their “modern” style. Sad.

  • ANC

    Noooooo! Keep the stairs. Keep. The. Stairs. Take it from someone who lives in a gutted, modernized row home – keep the stairs! You will never, ever find architectural detail like that anywhere else.

  • LedroitTigah

    I wish I had beautiful stairs like that in my home still! gaaaaaaah.

  • please no!

    This should be illegal. Don’t take out the stairs!

  • SF

    This is just demoralizing.

  • wdc

    What could possibly be an improvement over this in a “historic” house??

  • I Dont Get It


  • Sir Spicious

    Can you believe the gall of people to have different taste than me?!?!?!?!? And then these same jerks have the utter audacity to recognize that some people may really like the thing that is not to their own tastes, and offer that thing for sale.

    • V

      this “different taste” screams “no taste”… but we won’t judge you

    • ZetteZelle


  • A

    If it had been really abused or had a hundred coats of lead paint on it, I could see more reason to remove it. This staircase looks so nicely preserved, it’s a shame to not include it in the new design.

  • Elle

    The next paragraph of the ad reads, “If they were to be used again as stairs, they would need new treads, risers, and a lot of work done on the railings (including finding new balusters in some areas to match originals).” I am guessing this is why they’re not choosing to keep them.
    Maybe not a choice I would make, but I get it.

    • anonymous

      Doubt it. What they are spending to rip this out and put in a new staircase will no doubt cost far more than refurbiishing this one would. New treads, risers, replacing some balusters, and railing work are done on old staircases all the time, and are not that big a deal in a house renovation.

  • anon36

    Sad. I bet it will be replaced with something much more unique, like a bare brick wall or white subway tiles.

  • V

    so sad they are renovating and not restoring…. good luck to you and what i hope is not a home depot showroom…

    stairs are BEAUTIFUL… someone please snatch this up

  • mfldc

    This is a scandal. While the stairs may need new treads, risings, etc. — so will any new staircase that is put in to replace the magnificent beauty. In other words, stair work is going to be needed in any case. Please someone reach out to the owner and do everything possible to talk him/her/them out of destroying this beautiful piece of architectural detail.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Help me understand this: When a developer obliterates details like this in the name of making a quick buck, most say nothing, a few people grumble a little bit. This appears to be an owner working on their own home that they actually live in, and half of you are practically ready to have him executed. I agree, I’d rather see them keep the stairs, but I’m much less bothered by somebody renovating a house that they live in, even if I disagree with the decisions they make, than I am by a developer doing this to flip a house. And I’m glad that they’re trying to get the stairs to a new home rather than just throwing them away, like many (most?) developers would do.

    • Andie302

      I think if the developer were on this forum with the same post there would be additional outrage. That is such an awesome feature – if they weren’t going to save it, why not buy something that’s beyond repair/already been stripped or ruined? I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m totally jealous and cannot imagine not doing everything within my power to keep these beauties.

      • HaileUnlikely

        “if they weren’t going to save it, why not buy something that’s beyond repair/already been stripped or ruined?”
        If they bought it last week, sure, I’ll give you that. But for all we know they bought it in 1970.

    • JS

      What are you talking about? People bitch about developers ripping out old details ALL THE TIME on this website.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Not to anywhere near this level of intensity.

        • textdoc

          I think it’s because 1) the details in question have not yet been ripped out and 2) we’ve become kind of resigned to developers ripping old details out in favor of “open plans,” riserless stairs, etc…. but we expect better behavior (so to speak) from homeowners.
          We often see flipped houses that have zero original detail left, but often we don’t know what shape the house was in beforehand and whether the original details had already been lost. Here we do.

    • kt

      Executing is a bit harsh – I’d be happy with a fine and a stop work order.

  • eggs

    So I understand the desire of many to keep original elements like this in historic homes but…
    1) WOW this brought out some major emotions; and
    2) Wouldn’t you rather someone buy it who will restore it and use it in their home instead of a developer or this person just ripping it out and throwing it out? If the person just doesn’t want it at least they’re giving it a second chance to be used by someone who will give it another life.

    • Andie302

      To your second question – Yes! I meant to give them kudos in my reply above for at least hoping that someone could reuse these.

      • textdoc

        Isn’t that kind of a hefty price, though? I’m glad they’re not just throwing them away, but $1000 sounds like a lot to me considering the additional work that will need to be done.

        • Andie302

          Yeah it is, now that you point it out. Hopefully if they go no takers they offer to give them away?

          • textdoc

            Yep, I’d hope so. Or donate

          • textdoc

            (Oops, posted prematurely.) Yes, I’d hope they’d give them away or perhaps donate them to a place like Community Forklift.

        • ClevelandDave

          Not a lot of money. The lot of money part comes from taking them out and reassembling them (not to mention modifying the house where they’re going in). If you can’t afford the $1000, you won’t be able to affort the $10,000 for doing all the other work. Just sayin’

          • textdoc

            RIght, but why are the owners even charging the $1000?

  • AmyM

    I’m screaming.

  • Lisa

    I love the historic but I am completely on the side of the house’s owners. They can do what they want to their own house. It wouldn’t even occur to me to second guess the owners. Don’t people have enough to worry about in there own lives than get their panties in a bunch about something that’s completely out of their control and upon which their opinion, emotion, and umbrage is totally wasted? My brain is trying to fit these stairs in every place I can in any of the places I own but I cannot make them work, sadly. And the having to replace the treads and risers is also a little daunting (thought that may just be their opinion and not a fact). I really hope somebody snatches these up and does something to honor their beauty, hopefully again as stairs.

    • mvs

      Exactly. Their house, their decision. Or perhaps everyone posting vehement opinions on this thread would be willing to put their design choices to a Popville vote before deciding what to do with their own homes?

      • textdoc

        No one said people had to do what PoPville readers want them to do.
        However, I think it’s PoPville readers’ right to have — and express — an opinion on the issue. Just as it’s the owners’ right to do whatever they want with the stairs.

        • Lisa

          Yes sure people have ‘the right’ to do a lot of things. But for people’s own health, mental and otherwise, what good does it do to get all bent out of shape about somebody else’s decision about which your opinion is meaningless and uninformed. And ‘judge not lest ye be judged’ aka karma is a very real thing so look for similar judgements and unsolicited ‘advices’ coming your all’s way.

  • LedroitTigah

    Look, as a fellow homeowner, I totally respect the fact that the homeowners in this case can do whatever they want. However, as someone that would love to recreate this beautiful woodwork, does anyone know of a great woodworker in the area who might able to recreate some of these elements? In particular, I like the detail on the sides, next to the door, with the boxes (Im really terrible at describing interior design stuff, apparently)

    • wdc

      Geoff Seeley was doing fantastic work– so good we couldn’t afford him– back when we were working on our house 10 years ago. But he wasn’t a young man then, so no idea if he’s still in the business. He might know someone though!

  • PurpleReign

    As someone that just completed a major renovation, I can attest that it is extremely difficult to find a contractor that is qualified and willing to take on a project like this. I repaired and refinished a similar staircase, and most contractors I spoke with were intimidated by the project.

  • Not Quite Dead Yet

    Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice

  • Fla20001

    So we’re renovating our home now, and need new stairs. Assuming the measurements fit, this could be an option. Our home is the same era and was previously gutted of character by the last owners. This could be a great restoration of that original character.

    But the timeline to execute is very short. Any commenters able to channel their concerns and recommend contractors/carpenters who could execute this move in such a short timeline? Even if we don’t get the stairs, it could help someone else who does…

    • wdc

      See above, re: Geoff Seeley.

  • mark

    If you’re set on getting rid of it, and don’t have any luck here, you could look into architectural salvage. I know there’s Second Chance in Baltimore, but I’m sure there are others. They’ll likely come in and take the staircase whole, and then sell it as a unit to someone else. Having never used them, I have no idea about rates/compensation.

    • anon

      Places like Second Chance and Community Forklift in Hyattsville accept donations- they do not pay you for things you give to them. However, you can write it off on your taxes. I have donated to Community Forklift before and they will not take something out of your home- it has to already be removed and ready to be loaded on their truck- they will pick it up, but often you need to book weeks in advance. Also, I’m also not sure if Second Chance would come all the way to DC- maybe for something like that they would.

      • Anonamom

        Second Chance will go to DC and they will also remove it. If it doesn’t sell, I hope the home owners give them a call!

  • anon

    We own a home built around the same time and would kill to still have the original woodwork. We got lucky and found a set of newel posts of the right style and time period at Community Forklift so we paid a contractor to recreate balusters and install the posts. However, we don’t have all the beautiful wood paneling that would have accompanied the original staircase (of course, ours was no where near as grand as this). Such a shame these homeowners are throwing away a beautiful piece of history.

  • anon

    You should save the staircase in the basement so that the next owner of your home can reinstall them.

  • Avenging Angel

    With the switchback, that must occupy a big chunk of real estate in the room where it’s located, that would be one reason to take it out. Hey, you could have a little secret room under the landing!

  • reality

    very very very very depressing that someone would rip these out.


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