The House of Four Bells


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.

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