If you made a habit of sleeping during math class in high school, you might be tempted by the Buchanan School condos on Capitol Hill, where classrooms have been converted to bedrooms. But don’t expect chalkboard paint or lockers in the hallways.
“We didn’t do kitsch,” says Martin Ditto, chief executive of Ditto Residential, the developer of the Buchanan School condos. “We respected the integrity of the historic school building and matched it with a modern vernacular inside.”
Ditto, who grew up in a house designed by A. Hays Town, says he has always been influenced by the architect’s style.
“He was the first architect to reuse materials and to integrate the breakfast area into the kitchen,” Ditto says. The Buchanan School condos at 1324 E St. SE include 41 units in two restored historic school buildings, one built in 1895 and the other in 1922. The historic buildings are connected by the main entrance to the condos, constructed of glass doors and windows and red brick with black paint. Inside, the lobby has an exposed brick wall and natural tumbled limestone flooring imported from Italy. The lobby has pocket doors that open onto an adjacent grand room, which will have built-in bookshelves, seating areas, a decorative fireplace and two sets of French doors leading to a landscaped patio with a grill. The patio is semi-enclosed for privacy, and yet opens by tall shrubs and a series of steel panels that will weather with a rusted patina.
“We liked the idea of having a modern design, but with older materials,” Ditto says.
Ivory Zorich, a Capitol Hill resident and one of the first buyers at the Buchanan School condos, says she saw the renovations beginning on the school and thought, “Whoever lives there will be lucky.”
I took a hard-hat tour with a friend who’s a real estate agent, and by the following week, I had a place under contract,” Zorich says. “As a first-time buyer, I like the idea of new construction, but I also love old buildings. This way, I get the character of the older building, along with new features. It’s not a cookie-cutter design.”
Zorich especially likes the huge windows in her unit and the thoughtful design.
“Everything is high-end, with solid wood kitchen cabinets and a five-burner gas stove,” she says.
Zorich says her unit doesn’t have an outdoor space, so she plans to sometimes work in the clubroom or on the clubroom patio.
White-oak flooring: Ditto agreed with the Capitol Hill Restoration Society recommendation to maintain some of the interior of the school buildings. One has a dramatic wide stairwell with massive windows. In addition, exposed brick walls are visible in many hallways and units.
“We wanted the condo to feel like a really big house, so we installed white oak flooring in all of the corridors, which will have antique kilim rug runners in the middle,” Ditto says.
Unit 112, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo with 1,243 square feet, is priced at $939,900. This lower-level unit in the oldest building has an outdoor terrace. Inside, the condo has an open floor plan with high ceilings and a center island kitchen with Calacatta Gold quartz counters, a pantry and custom-milled cabinets.
The tall windows in this unit have two-foot-deep windowsills. Near the entrance are a coat closet and a laundry closet. One bedroom has an arched wall with two tall windows and a private door to the hall bathroom. The master bedroom has an exposed brick wall, a walk-in closet, a second closet, and a luxurious bathroom with a glass-enclosed shower, a double-sink vanity and Calacatta marble floors in a chevron pattern.
“Our design philosophy is that we don’t want people to focus on too many things,” Ditto says. “For example, we designed the chevron-patterned floor for the master bathrooms and then kept everything else sleek and simple. There are no pulls on the vanity drawers, and the counter is a plain quartz. The built-in mirror has a transitional look with a modern frame.”
Ditto carefully designed the lighting for every space in the Buchanan to be uniform in brightness and color.
“Everything should be either simple or beautiful, so we carry that theme throughout the condos and the common areas,” Ditto says. “That helps focus attention on the design.”
Unit 304, a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo with 526 square feet, is priced at $399,900. This condo has a full bathroom off the entry, along with a coat closet and a laundry closet. The interior bedroom has a large closet. Part of the galley-style kitchen is open to the living and dining room, and the other section extends down the hall near the bedroom. The kitchen is pushed partway down the hall to accommodate a niche for a dining area. This unit also has a glass door to a private balcony.
The Buchanan School shares landscaped walkways and gathering areas with the townhouses developed by Federal Capital Partners and Insight Property Group. The condo has an elevator, bike storage, a package room and 16 parking spaces, each priced at $40,000.
What’s nearby: Buchanan School residents can walk to two grocery stores, Eastern Market, Lincoln Park, Frager’s Hardware store and three Metro stations, two of which are within a few blocks. Across the street from Buchanan Park is the Watkins Park Recreation Center at Watkins Elementary School, which has a softball field, a playground, basketball courts, a street skating rink and an outdoor swimming pool.
Coffee shops, restaurants and other shops are a short walk away, along Pennsylvania Avenue and Barracks Row. Nationals Park, Yards Park and the waterfront restaurants are less than two miles from Buchanan Park.
Schools: Watkins and Peabody elementary, Stuart-Hobson Middle and Eastern High.
Transit: Buchanan Park is served by numerous bus lines and is within a mile of three Metro stations: Eastern Market, Potomac Avenue and Stadium Armory, all with Blue, Orange and Silver line service.
1324 E St. SE, Washington
The condos are priced from $379,000 to $1,199,900.
Builder: Ditto Residential
Features: The condos have ceilings of nine to 14 feet, white oak floors, recessed lighting, solid white oak entry doors, and a washer and dryer. Some units have exposed brick walls and about half have private outdoor space. Each kitchen has custom-designed cabinets in wood or white, Calacatta quartz counters with a full-height backsplash, LED under-cabinet lighting and upgraded appliances, including a refrigerator integrated into the cabinets with panels. The master bathroom has a glass-enclosed shower and Calacatta marble floors in a chevron pattern; the second bathrooms have an oversize bathtub and a large wall and floor tiles.
Bedrooms/bathrooms: 1 to 3 / 1 or 2
Square footage: 525 to 1,400
Condo association fees: $236 to $635 per month; the average is $370.
View models: Open by appointment
Contact: Hillary Curtin of McWilliams|Ballard at 202-350-2239 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit thebuchanandchool.com .