|Postcard view of the Argyle around the time it opened (author's collection).|
The corner of Park Road and Mt. Pleasant Street (the "old" 16th Street before a straighter extension of 16th was built just to the east) was one such central location, the spot where the 16th Street trolley turned around. A large apartment building called the Park Regent, still standing at 1701 Park Road NW, had been completed there in 1909 by renowned developer Harry Wardman. Wardman would go on to build the elegant Northbrook Apartments at 16th and Newton Streets in 1917. Between those two projects, the relatively modest Argyle was constructed by the Kennedy Brothers in 1913.
|The Argyle circa 1921 (Library of Congress).|
The building presumably got its name from the country estate of Thomas Blagden (1815-1870), also called Argyle, which was located just north of Mount Pleasant on the hills beyond the Piney Branch valley of Rock Creek Park. Designed by Alexander H. Sonnemann (1872-1956), Kennedy's long-time collaborator, the building featured costly detailing to appeal to upper middle class Washingtonians of the day. The four-story structure was elegantly finished in tapestry brick with terra cotta trim, and almost all of the forty apartments had at least one bay window, many with sweeping views of the city and Rock Creek Park. The larger apartments, which could have as many as six rooms, included sleeping porches, a highly sought-after amenity in the days before air conditioning. All the apartments were finished in mahogany trim with "double quartered" oak floors and featured the latest Chicago Jewel gas ranges in their kitchens. The lobby, main stairway, and corridors were trimmed with expensive snow-white Colorado Yule marble, the same marble used for the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Beneath all of this elegance, in the basement, were "sufficient servants' rooms to accomodate all the servants who will be employees in the apartments," according to the Washington Times. Monthly rent on a three-bedroom apartment was $28.50. Five-bedroom units went for $32.50. Such rates were competitive but not cheap.
|Advertisement from the October 11, 1913 Washington Herald (Library of Congress).|
|The Argyle Apartments today (photo by the author).|
|Postcard view of Meridian Mansions, circa 1923 (author's collection).|
|The Kennedy-Warren (photo by the author).|
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Sources included Kent Boese, "Houses With Novel Points: Kennedy Brothers, Princeton Heights, and the Making of Northern Park View" (2009); Mara Cherkasky, Mount Pleasant (2007); James Goode, Best Addresses (1988), and a number of vintage newspaper articles.