The Halcyon House — a Georgetown landmark built in 1787 — will enter the next phase of its history this year with the S&R Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit.
The foundation, which supports talented individuals in the arts and sciences with a focus on international cultural collaboration, purchased the house — located at the corner of 34th and Prospect Streets — to use as its new headquarters. The property was purchased from sculptor John Dreyfuss for $11 million.
Dreyfuss had inherited the house from his father, architect Edmund Dreyfuss, who purchased it in 1966. Halcyon House was built by Benjamin Stoddert, who was the first secretary of the navy, and Pierre L’Enfant, who designed much of the Washington, D.C. street layout, designed its gardens.
The S&R Foundation plans to use the headquarters for Illuminate, a social incubator program for young entrepreneurs, as well as the International Institute of Global Resilience, a start-up think tank founded in 2012 to provide disaster management research and education.
S&R Foundation Chief Operating Officer Kate Goodall expressed excitement about working with Georgetown, thanks to the proximity between Halcyon House and the university. Goodall said that the foundation may provide educational and research opportunities for graduate and Ph.D. students. In addition, the International Institute of Global Resilience will launch a fellowship program in October, focusing on emergency management and disaster communication, logistics and mitigation.
“Georgetown University has been really receptive and helpful,” Goodall said. “I can certainly see us doing work with Georgetown University in the future.”
Due to the possible increase in traffic, the board of Zoning Adjustment and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E originally faced concerns from the community about changing the house’s zoning from residential to nonprofit. Many of these concerns were addressed by an agreement between S&R, community members, neighbors and ANC 2E commissioners that was developed over the summer in preparation for last week’s ANC meeting.
By the terms of the agreement, the house will play host to a maximum of 75 events per year, most of which will include small speakers and conferences for no more than 50 people. At last week’s ANC meeting, S&R representatives added that they would plan large-scale events only when students are out of town, which would help alleviate traffic and congestion concerns. There are also plans to build a vehicle turntable to prevent traffic congestion on 34th Street. A vehicle turntable is a rotating platform that turns cars around so that they can change direction quickly without needing to make three-point turns.
ANC 2E commissioner Ron Lewis noted the high degree of cooperation between S&R and the neighborhood community.
“The S&R Foundation was very welcoming of these discussions,” Lewis said at the Sept. 3 ANC 2E meeting. “We have successfully arrived at a very significantly reduced in scope plan.”
S&R representatives, community members and residents who live within Halcyon House’s vicinity all voiced their approval of the revised resolution at the ANC meeting.
“We are very aware that even though we are an international organization, we are embedded in the Georgetown community,” Goodall said. “We look to be really good stewards of the property as well as good neighbors to the community.”
Events at Halcyon House are set to begin in the spring, after the vehicle turntable is installed.