Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Saved by the bell

Jim Bell and Mark Scott renovate a formerschoolhouse and call it home


Mark Scott

After two and a half years of extensive renovation, the old Field School at 2107 Wyoming Ave., N.W. in Kalorama has been transformed into one of Washington’s most beautiful homes.Owners Jim Bell and Mark Scott spared no expense restoring and revitalizing this 1911 property, which features 7,000 square feet of living space. Comprised of a main house, a two-story carriage house and staff quarters, there are a total of nine bedrooms, six bathrooms, two half bathrooms and four full kitchens, including a caterer’s kitchen.

One is easily impressed by the imposing exterior façade, dormer windows and taupe and black color scheme. Last year, the stately property was fi lled with over 1,000 guests for the annual Bloomberg News party following the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. But you don’t need to be a journalist or politician to gain entry to this stunning estate. Bell and Scott regularly host political fundraisers and charitable events to benefi t such organizations as Greenspace and Food & Friends. Bell loves to cook and is quick to declare the kitchen in the main house as his “favorite room.”

The kitchen is both a chef ’s delight and a perfect gathering place. It still occupies its original position in the house and has, over the course of almost a century, retained its original raised hearth fi replace. It also contains one of Bell’s more unusual personal possessions, an authentic 1600’s Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey wall-hanging with a genuine donkey hair tail pinned to the animal’s posterior. An interesting focal point of the kitchen’s decor, the game is a subtle and whimsical reminder that Bell is a long time Democratic Party supporter who can take the heat.

Elsewhere in the kitchen are modern top-of the-line upgrades, including marble counter tops and recessed lighting to highlight such trendy innovations as refrigerated drawers and appliances creatively camoufl aged to look like furniture. The state-of the art six-burner Viking stove is a real standout, although Bell tells us he is just as pleased to prepare meals on the hearth. Indeed, cozy easy chairs cuddled close to the fi replace make this seem a particularly enjoyable retreat, especially on cold winter nights.

Facilitating the easy manner in which the men entertain is a carefully constructed wet bar encased in a built-in wooden cabinet in the butler’s pantry. Like most of the furnishings, it was especially custom-crafted and hand-made. Adding to the convenience and enjoyment of entertaining is a charming sun porch accessible from the kitchen through French doors. Here, plush pillow-cushioned furniture conveys a casual elegance while aromatic wisteria vines and scalloped Sunbrella drapes sway gently in the breeze beneath a ceiling fan: a serenely natural setting to relax, sip tea, enjoy a cocktail at sunset or dine al fresco.

Also adjoining the kitchen is the exquisitely wood-paneled dining room, believed to be the only oval-shaped dining room in Washington. It features a beautiful mahogany fl oor, and, as is the case with most of the home’s public rooms, it has antique plaster wall moldings and an original fi replace with a recessed stained-glass window shining out from its alcove. Adding to the room’s glowing warmth is a stunning chandelier and a sturdy mahogany table surrounded by leather upholstered mahogany chairs.

Guests move easily from the richly appointed one-of a kind dining room into the formal living room where an opulent chandelier accentuates the beauty of marble coffee table and a marble fi replace over which a painting of the Stars and Stripes is prominently displayed. To the casual observer the image of the fl ag may serve as a reminder that this home had for thirty years housed a school. But this is not your standard red, white and blue homage to the artistry of Betsy Ross or to the youth of America reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Rather this rendition of the American fl ag is a 1968 painting by expressionist artist Jasper Johns, daringly done in orange, green and black to protest the Vietnam War.

For smaller gatherings or as an overfl ow area, there is what Bell refers to as “the media room.” In this quaint preserve, a claw-foot barrel table serves as a pedestal for an elaborate model of a sailing ship which the two men purchased from an antique shop in Georgetown. A library portrait of an anonymous subject, perhaps an old time sea captain, is not only a wonderful work of art, but also makes an excellent conversation piece. Recessed lighting illuminates many points of interest in the room, and three and a half-inch plantation shutters add to its ambiance and sense of Old World charm.

The master bedroom boasts yet another architecturally signifi cant alcove, with a fi replace bordered by bay windows. Opposite the fi replace hangs an abstract painting by Israeli artist Noah Arbel that perfectly matches the colors of the bed’s headboard below. Other decorative accents include a silver table fan which no longer serves a practical purpose except perhaps to remind us of house’s early glory days when a Supreme Court justice and a bishop resided there before it became the Field School in 1976.

The marble master bathroom features ecru walls and a large mirror precisely positioned above the over-sized tub to refl ect the fl icker of fl ames from yet another fi replace. The beautifully framed mirror overhanging the bath tub adds additional sparkle to a room already made light and airy by large windows and limestone fl oors. Special decorative touches include what appears to be an old library bookcase ladder imaginatively employed as a towel rack and conveniently situated next to twin marble sinks with brilliantly polished fi xtures.

It is clear Bell and Scott have much experience renovating historically signifi cant properties. This is their largest project, and the results have been gratifying. Bell, a real estate broker with Washington Fine Properties, and Mark, a mortgage banker, bought the property in late 2002. Thanks to their time and talents, it is now valued at more than $4 million, and currently on the market.

inside homes

inside homes
inside homes

inside homes


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