TULIPS SPRING UP around town in the spring. So do peonies. And so do the signs announcing that the architect Christian Zapatka is hard at work renovating, refreshing or otherwise altering home interiors around the Washington DC area, most specifically in Georgetown, where he also lives.
This year, the 86th edition of the Georgetown House Tour features not one but two houses Zapatka has revived. In all, there are eight historical properties on the tour, which was co-chaired by the redoubtable Jill and Scott Altman, who managed the daunting task last year as well.
One of the Zapatka projects, dating from the early 19th century, is sometimes known as the “Seam House,” because the original core of the house, then a workshop, was entered through a side alley, the two-story brick addition and new front door being added some 50 or 60 years later. You can still see the vertical line, the seam, where the two parts of the house come together.
The Seam House is, in fact, made up of four parts, including a mid-20th-century rear piece that was removed for a more substantial 2015 addition more in keeping with the older spirit of the house. (Older yes, but even with reclaimed heart-pine floors and old plasterwork, there’s still room for a sleek Snaidero kitchen toward the rear of the house and handsome steel casement doors and windows.)
The other Zapatka project is a square-bay-front Victorian from the late 1800s, of which there are hundreds around DC and dozens in Georgetown itself. As is often the case in a historic district, the street-facing portion of the building respects its age while the modern fireworks—in this case a Waterworks kitchen, large windows and open family room—take place out back.
The architect Dale Overmyer and his work are also represented this year, with his major 2012 renovation of a house that looks like nothing less than a half-timber Tudor manor yet started out in life as a one-room Presbyterian chapel.
Designer Linda Battalia shows her stuff in an 1888 Victorian row house that is now partly open-plan, although the original weights and pulleys of the 129-year-old windows are still in good working order.
Architect Outbridge Horsey’s work can be seen on the tour as well, in a 2016 kitchen renovation to a Civil War-era clapboard house.
The smallest house on this year’s tour is a post-Civil War brick row house that clocks in at less than 700 square feet. Originally a two-bedroom house, the property got a new life when an owner transformed the upstairs into a large one-bedroom suite with storage and a large, well-equipped bath. The original staircase was replaced by a metal stair that spirals up at the back of the dining area, backed by a large window that allows light to flood the interior.
The house tour is a project of St. John’s Episcopal Church on O Street and helps to fund their outreach projects. You can find ticket information at the House Tour website.