The Tait-Trussell House at 4900 Western Ave. in Bethesda is one of Washington’s most grand and historically significant residences. Lovingly and thoughtfully maintained and updated over the decades, this six-bedroom, five-bath home offers its third-ever owners the possibility that it could be part of their family for generations. The house recalls an elegance that has almost disappeared. Elaborate hand-crafted plaster crown moldings complement high-ceilinged rooms; a fireplace warms the entrance hall; a wraparound porch invites lively gatherings; and big green lawns provide a site for the celebration of major family occasions.
"This magnificent residence constructed in 1901 occupies a double lot and is currently occupied by its second owner," said listing agent Michael Moore. "Over 500 tons of Bethesda blue granite were used in the original construction by one of the original developers of AU Park, Galin L. Tait. Rich in period details throughout, it’s a rare offering indeed.”
Mr. Tait was also a prominent politician and real estate lawyer with offices in Washington and Baltimore. An influential Republican, in 1917 Mr. Tait successfully defeated Democratic President Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to disenfranchise black soldiers by restricting them to military bases on Election Day. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, Mr. Tait led the Republican Party in Maryland as chairman of delegations to national conventions and as state chairman of the party.
Mr. Tait and his business associates were selective about the buyers of the lots in the new AU Park; the original marketing documents state, in the language of the era, “We want good, honest, temperate men to build on this property.”
Over its 115-year history, only two owners and three families have occupied the Tait-Trussell house. In 1931, Mr. Tait’s daughter Beatrice and her husband, C.P. “Peck” Trussell moved in when Mr. Trussell, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, was transferred by the Baltimore Sun to Washington. The Trussells continued to occupy 4900 Western Avenue after Mr. Tait’s’ death in 1953 until 1974 when it was sold to the current owners. If the walls could talk, they would recall frequent conversations between Peck and his close friend, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, who traded rides home from the Capitol in the Speaker’s limousine for dinner at home as Rayburn was a bachelor. Later, the dining room was the site of stimulating talk and abundant laughter from cabinet ministers from around the world.
This history comes alive when one enters the home. Gorgeous parquet floors and a working fireplace grace the entryway. Pea-vine crown moldings decorate the line between the walls and ceilings throughout the first floor. To the left of the foyer is a double parlor with the original pocket doors and large windows that look out onto the porch. The dining room, which is separated from the foyer by another original pocket door, can seat 14. The spacious kitchen reflects the 21st century, with stainless steel appliances, black granite counters, two sinks and a Northland commercial refrigerator, and it seats up to eight for informal family dinners. A powder room and a large, bright, family room addition with huge windows and a fireplace surrounded by ample shelving complete the first floor.
There are five bedrooms and two full baths on the second floor. Heart pine flooring runs throughout this level. The spacious master bedroom has an elaborate fixed canopy decorated with ornate plaster moldings over the bed, a walk-in closet and an en suite bath. The other bedrooms are also large, and the hall bathroom has been flawlessly renovated, with a frameless shower and convenient linen closet.
The upper second floor boasts a large sitting room, still another bedroom, and a full bath. The space offers a quiet retreat for relaxation, contemplation, and perhaps drafting a great novel.
The home’s above-grade lower level offers a half bath, an inviting library, a generous media room and a quiet, daylight office. For life’s other necessities, the lower level is fitted with a high-efficiency washer and dryer, extra food storage, a workshop, an enormous storeroom, as well as the huge iron Marvin safe around which the house was built.
In sum, the Tait-Trusell house is a place of presence and character. It offers appealing living and entertaining space, well-suited for today’s requirements, along with something money cannot buy -- the unseen company of those who lived well within its walls.
- Neighborhood: Bethesda
- Bedrooms: 6
- Bathrooms: 3 full, 2 half
- Size: 4,655 square feet
- Extra Goodies: Elaborate plaster moldings, high ceilings, elegant fireplaces and wood floors are impressive details throughout the home. The double lot offers expansive green lawns and landscaped garden.
In case you were one of the few folks who didn't hop into the photo gallery straight away, scroll back to the top and take a tour through this stunning historic home! For more information, please see the full listing here.