The House of Four Bells is a three story brick and stone rowhouse built circa 1890.
It is located on one of L’Enfant’s state named Avenues radiating from Logan
Circle in Washington DC. The house was originally designed for James Ewan, his
wife, and three daughters, by notable DC architect Glenn Brown. The house and
the neighborhood were heavily wounded in the 1968 riots.
Above the front door and beneath the Egyptian Balcony is a relief of four female
hands holding four bells atop an Irish Lyre. It is thought that the hands are
modeled from the four Ewan ladies, hence the name, “The House of Four Bells.”
The house renovation was approached with this in mind – four different women,
treated in four distinct, but cohesive ways.
Bell One – keeping and restoring the significant historic elements.
This included: rebuilding the curved glass bay windows; restoring the magnificent
wooden grand stair; detailing the Lincrusta wainscoting and plaster relief
moldings; reconstructing the six fireplaces and marble mantles; and, refinishing
the wood lattice arch in the entry hall.
Bell Two – keeping but re-purposing significant, original elements.
This included: exposing, reconditioning, and relocating the sliding pocket doors
and hardware from the kitchen to a custom track at the second floor office;
relocating and modifying the massive wood sideboard from the dining room
into the living room and turning it into a well-stocked bar; and, transforming an
11’ tall floor-mounted mirror into a coat rack on the grand stair landing.
Bell Three – replacing and improving the original elements.
This included: a new and relocated kitchen; modernizing four baths and a
powder room; and, constructing a three story ‘sky deck’ with a vibrant green
steel frame arch that straddles the backyard while framing the urban landscape.
The Four Bells motif was also updated by one of the owners, a graphic artist.
Bell Four – transforming original elements with new components.
This included: designing three long benches – one with storage drawers running
from the entryway to the stair hall, the second as a banquet in the dining area
facing the kitchen, and the third in the garden under the great arch; punching
patterned holes through a wall to create transparency between the stair hall
and an office; and, sculpting abstract clouds around third floor skylight openings.
Also, modern translucent sliding doors were added in front of original arched
openings to close off the grand stair from the master bedroom and home office.