Built for Tenleytown’s blue-collar residents, these double houses on Chesapeake Street stand out among the nearby single-family contemporaries. Of the four houses, two were converted into multiple units while one served as a boarding house. These residences illustrate the taste and craftsmanship of stonemasons, Frank (Francesco) and Louis (Luigi) Perna. Noted as "brownstone" in the building permit, the selected stone runs from brown to red and set in random ashlar with rusticated faces. Because it was a more costly and less accessible material, this dressed stone was scarce in Washington suburbs at the turn of the twentieth century.
The Italian stonemasons, who imigrated in 1890, were in high demand for public buildings, major commercial buildings, churches, bridges, and retaining walls constructed of stone; however, the Perna Brothers were known best for their residential work. They also performed extensive work for the federal government, including buildings at Fort Myer, Fort Washington, and the National Zoo. In 1919, Frank Perna sold his share of the business to his brother, who with his sons, operated in Maryland quarries until 1973. They constructed bridges across Rock Creek and George Washington Parkway, as well as buildings at Georgetown University.
DC Inventory: February 23, 2017
National Register: June 26, 2017