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John R. Elvans Residence
John R. Elvans Residence

John R. Elvans Residence, drawing, ca. 1867
John R. Elvans Residence, drawing, ca. 1867

John R. Elvans Residence (68)

928 M Street, NW
Constructed in 1866, demolished ca. 1960

Probably, the house for John R. Elvans was the first residence designed by Cluss. His client was a hardware and building supply -store owner, public-spirited citizen, and real estate investor (see No. 20 and 31). Elvans was a strong supporter of equal rights for former slaves. He assisted the Freedman's Bureau in purchasing Barry Farms in southeast Washington, which the federal government subdivided for farms for former slaves. As a member of the City Council, he praised the first black voters in 1867.

In addition to utility and living rooms, the Elvans Residence included 10 bedrooms and further rooms for servant quarters. It also had a brick stable. The building was assessed at $16,000 in 1886. The National Daily Intelligencer described it: "Perhaps so handsome a residence of its kind cannot be found in the city as the one belonging to John R. Elvans." Cluss described the Elvans house as "representative of [his] residential work."

John R. Elvans is also mentioned in Cluss's accounts for 1866 in the context of a building project on the Lutheran Memorial Church (see No. 90).

In the 1880s, U.S. Senator (1876-82 and 1885 to 1909) Henry M. Teller rented this house. Teller also served as Secretary of the Interior from 1882 to 1885 and oversaw the final stage of the reconstruction of the Patent Office designed by Cluss and Schulze. In the 1910s and 1920s the Columbia Turnverein, successor to the Turner group organized by Cluss in 1852, made this house its headquarters.




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