Ambassador of Turkey Residence
Embassy Row/Sheridan Circle/Washington, DC
Bill and I were fortunate to be able to be taken inside the Turkish Ambassador's House for a glimpse of the architectural splendor as well as a personal tour. The Turkish Embassy Residence is a noted historical landmark in Washington, DC, on DC's Embassy Row. It just so happens that our home is located around the corner from Sheridan Circle and we have always wondered what was behind that splendid facade. Now we know.
The following is taken from a brochure that was so kindly provided by the Residence staff as we entered. I asked if I could use this information for my website article and was graciously given permission to use anything in the brochure text or images. There is no copyright on the brochure nor are there any credits on the images therein; therefore, I will be unable to provide those.
The architect, George Oakley Totten, Jr., had a Turkey connection. He had worked in Istanbul designing the first American Chancery. Totten also designed the residence for Izzet Pasha, the Grand Vezir, Prime Minister of the Empire. Totten also was offered the position of "private architect" to Sultan AbdulHamid. Multimillionaire and philanthropist industrialist, Edward Hamlin Everett, commissioned Totten once Totten returned to America from Turkey. Edward Hamlin Everett was affectionately known as the "Bottle Top Millionaire." He had patented corrugated metal tops for soft drink bottles. He was also the inventor of the Lightning Ball Jar.
The Edward H. Hewett House was a mansion designed using three architectural periods: 16th Century Italian, 18th Century Romanesque and 19th Century Art Deco, with distinct features from decorative Ottoman styles. Thus, the Turkish influence of this mansion would destine it to become the Embassy Residence of Turkey. In the 1990s, the Chancery moved to a temporary address and eventually to Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue. In 1999, the Mansion became the Residence of the Ambassadors of Turkey.
There are a number of rooms in the mansion including the Main Entrance Hall, aka the Ottomon Room, the Music Room, the Drawing Room, the Dining Room, the Conservatory and many others:
Main Hall, aka the Ottomon Room - "...The building's impressive interior, its grand marble entrance hall with its sweeping staircase, the ornamental ceilings, marble fireplaces, rich wood paneling carved in exquisite detail, as well as the magnificent red-and-gold embroidered velvet textiles in the Music Room remained mainly untouched for many years. In 2004, the Residence was closed for nearly a three-year total renovation effort. The interior of the building underwent major restoration and redecoration. From the marble and antique oak paneling to the intricate silver and brass doorknobs and latches, from the cut-glass chandeliers and stained glass windows to the antique carpets and heirloom wall textiles, all contents were painstakingly restored...."
Music Room "...The Everett family first took occupancy in 1917. In 1920's, the House became famous for festive musical evenings featuring singers from New York's Metropolitan Opera, attracting Washington's elite. In 1932, Everett's widow, Grace Burnap, leased the House to the Turkish Embassy and it was used both as Chancery and Residence. In 1936, at the behest of Turkey's First President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Founder of the modern Turkish Republic, the House was purchased with all of its contents. Between 1934 and 1944, Turkey's Ambassador, Mehmet Münir Ertegün, took up residence in the House, accompanied by his wife and two sons. It was at the Embassy Residence that Ahmet, the elder son, cultivated his great and lasting passion for African-American music, and, with his brother, Nesuhi, arranged Jazz and Blues Sessions challenging segregation. Ahmet Ertegün, collaborating with the liked of Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, went on to become the Co-Founder of Atlantic Records, the Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a truly influential figure in music worldwide until his death in 2006...."
Drawing Room - "...The mansion also includes a collection of 18th and 19th century Sèvres Porcelain, currently displayed in the Drawing Room. Today, the design and the upholstery of the Drawing Room is inspired by the colors of the Sèvres Porcelain. The semicircular-arched rinceau window surrounds are as spectacular as the south wall's two double doors with egg and dart architraves. Sheer gold drapery in silk and linen allows sunlight to flood the room and complements the exquisite gold chairs and the gold-plated, leaf and finial handles of the elegant windows overlooking the Sheridan Circle...."
Dining Room - "...The mansion's Dining Room stands as one of the most impressive venues for official entertaining in Washington, DC. Host to numerous world leaders, this room bears witness to the deepening of important diplomatic relations every year. The centerpiece of the Dining Room is the gold stone fireplace--one of the twelve in the Residence--welcoming guests with the opulence appropriate to a grand mansion. The magnificent wood-paneled ceiling is illuminated by three sets of crystal chandeliers. The south wall is interrupted by a Venetian arch giving access to the Mansion's beautiful Conservatory with stained glass windows. Other elements such as the elaborate bronze and silver Bathazar clock, woven natural fiber wall coverings, and the eight-arm sterling silver Baroque candelabras sitting atop the dining table add grandeur to this spectacular room, making it an ideal site for elegant entertaining...."
"Mustafa Kemal Atatürk...19 May 1881 ... 10 November 1938 was a Turkish army officer, revolutionary, and the first President of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey. His surname, Atatürk (meaning 'Father of the Turks'), was granted to him in 1934 and forbidden to any other person by the Turkish parliament. Atatürk was a military officer during World War I. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, he led the Turkish National Movement in the Turkish War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Allies. His military campaigns led to victory in the Turkish War of Independence. Atatürk then embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms, seeking to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern and secular nationstate. Under his leadership, thousands of new schools were built, primary education was made free and compulsory, and women were given equal civil and political rights, while the burden of taxation on peasants was reduced. His government also carried out an extensive policy of Turkification. The principles of Atatürk's reforms, upon which modern Turkey was established, are referred to as Kemalism...." Mustafa Kemal Atatürk