Arthur and Donna Hartman lived a peripatetic life, but the 1939 brick Tudor on a quiet cul-de-sac in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Northwest Washington was the place they always returned. Even as their family swelled, the Hartmans enlarged and adapted the house rather than move to a new one.
“For my parents, who spent, I would say, half of their career overseas with the State Department, the house in Washington was sort of home base” between assignments, the Hartmans’ son David said.
The Hartmans bought the house in 1958 from its original owners, the Carpenters. Samuel R. Carpenter was the secretary of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve and a prominent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Evan J. Connor designed the house for Carpenter, who was one of several members of the church who banded together to build homes along the cul-de-sac, David Hartman said.
Arthur Hartman was a career diplomat who served as President Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to France and President Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the Soviet Union. The New York Times once called him “one of the brainiest and most professional members of the Foreign Service.”
After leaving law school to join the Marshall Plan administration in Europe, Hartman served the next four decades in the Foreign Service. He was undersecretary of state for economic affairs in the 1960s and assistant secretary of state for European affairs under Henry Kissinger. Hartman arrived in Moscow in 1981 and remained there until 1987 — the longest-serving U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union.
In between overseas assignments, the Chevy Chase house was home to the family of seven. But when they were abroad, the Hartmans rented it out. David Hartman said one of their tenants was Samuel Dash, chief counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee.
About 10 years after they bought the house, the Hartmans came into some money. A family meeting was held. The choice was between central air conditioning or a swimming pool.
“We all voted for the pool,” David said. “And my parents added on a breakfast room that overlooks the pool that was designed by Hugh [Newell] Jacobsen.”
The Jacobsen addition was the first of three renovations the Hartmans made to the home. They hired John Wiebenson in the 1990s to stretch their dining room and turn the screened porch into a den.
“As the five of us children got married and had kids, the dining room became less and less adequate for things like Thanksgiving,” said David Hartman, who recalls 18 or 19 people at Thanksgiving dinner. “It’s incredible how many people we got around that table.”
In 1997, the Hartmans hired Dickson Carroll to expand the master suite, turn the garage into a laundry room and create a whimsical space on the lower level for the grandchildren.
The house has many attributes that make it special — an oval leaded glass window with a floral motif that separates the living room from the den; a solarium at one end of the dining room; and an unusual ceiling with fun colors on the lower level, to name a few. What it doesn’t have is symmetry. But the quirky layout is part of its charm.
David Hartman calls his mother, Donna, an “extraordinary gardener,” and her passion for gardening is seen throughout the house and outdoors. Although the tree she planted on her 30th birthday near the upper patio no longer stands — its massive stump the only reminder — the soaring meta sequoia off the dining room and the weeping beech near the breakfast room continue to thrive. The lush landscaping around the many decks, balconies, terraces and patios surrounding the home is a tribute to her green thumb.
On the market for the first time in 60 years, the six-bedroom, six-bathroom, 4,520-square-foot house on 0.27 of an acre is listed at $1.6 million. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.
Listing agents: Christopher Ritzert and Christie-Anne Weiss, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty
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