Rupp said Megan’s motivation was purely personal.
“These people have been complaining for too long about having abandoned a house, having to walk down a hallway to the apartment and having no outdoor space. Living room [is] too small,” Rupp said of her daughter’s thought. “I have to get them off my back. I’ll find them a place they like.
The apartment wasn’t the problem as much as the path to it.
“What I didn’t like at all was that you had to enter the apartment through the main hall, which was very beautiful, then go up the elevator and down a long hallway,” said he declared. “I felt like a rat in a box.”
The solution was a one-of-a-kind apartment at Tilden Gardens, a six-building complex on a five-acre triangular lot off Connecticut Avenue NW. James M. Goode, in his 1988 book, “Best Addresses”, of Washington’s distinguished apartment buildings, described Tilden Gardens as “the city’s most innovative tall apartment building built in the 1920s” . Until the arrival of Watergate in the 1960s, Tilden Gardens was the largest luxury cooperative apartment complex in Washington.
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This apartment was originally a restaurant in the main building. The Tilden Gardens Cafe opened in 1929. Judith and Milton Viorst reviewed it in their 1970 guide to the best restaurants in Washington: “If your definition of gourmet food includes a nice roast or a homemade cream pie … then you will be really impressed. with the splendid selection of high quality food available at this restaurant.”
Despite this criticism, the restaurant closed soon after and the space was leased to the Daughters of the American Revolution until 2005. Two years later, real estate agent Ed Carp bought it and transformed into an apartment. Carp sold it to Rupp and his wife in 2013. The apartment met many of their requirements.
“It has an exterior entrance, so we didn’t feel like it was an apartment,” Rupp said. “I kind of felt like it was a house attached to an apartment with the benefits of a back door reception, someone to accept deliveries, someone to watch things over.”
Rupp and O’Bryon undertook an extensive renovation. They installed hardwood floors, a gas fireplace and octagonal skylights in the main room. They added a library, a fourth bedroom and a laundry room. They redid the kitchen and enlarged the windows in the bedrooms.
But they left many period features, such as the beams and arches in the main room. “What we haven’t changed is what attracted us in the first place,” Rupp said.
They also added a private patio. Carp had negotiated the right to build the patio but never succeeded. “The previous owner, the guy who did the conversion, he was pretty smart,” Rupp said.
Not only did they have their own private outdoor space, but they also had the expansive lawn of Tilden Gardens.
“The other thing we really liked about the apartment is that if you walk outside you have the grounds of Tilden Gardens which is a great place to sit, read a book, meet friends,” Rupp said. “We have lost our ground [at the Fessenden Street house]but we acquired the patio and acres of green space.
Rupp said that in many ways the 3,600 square foot home offers the benefits of living in an apartment and a house. He and his wife could travel without worry, knowing someone was watching their home, and they could hold large gatherings.
“We had 125 people,” Rupp said. “It didn’t feel crowded.”
Rupp, who lives most of the year in Europe, has been less inclined to return to Washington since the death of his wife in October, which is why he decided to sell.
“I go there one or two days a year,” he says. “It makes no sense for me to stick to it.”
The four-bedroom, three-bathroom co-op apartment is listed at just under $2.6 million. The monthly fee is $2,455.
3000 Tilden St. NW, Unit 1-I, Washington, DC
- Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4/3
- Approximate area: 3,600
- Cooperation fees: $2,455 per month
- Features: This co-op apartment in Tilden Gardens was once a restaurant known as Tilden Gardens Cafe. It was converted into an apartment in 2007. Although the apartment is attached to the main building, no one lives above or below the unit. The apartment is accessible by the main entrance or by a private entrance. Parking is available for rent.
- Listing agent: Nancy Itteilag and Chris Itteilag, Washington Fine Properties