Built in 1925 on land purchased by the Italian government from Mary Foote Henderson (1841-1931), the Old Italian Embassy is among the most notable mansions Henderson commissioned for Sixteenth Street.
The embassy is a distinguished example of Beaux Arts design in the Italian Renaissance style, illustrating the effective adaptation of the style for use both as an imposing residence and a statement of national identity. It is one of only two known buildings in DC designed by the prominent New York architecture firm, Warren and Wetmore, better known as the architects of Grand Central Station. The chancery was added in the 1930s.
The building served as the Italian Embassy from 1925 through 1977. In 1977, Ambassador Roberto Gaja moved the residence to Villa Firenze (Firenze House) in the Forest Hills neighborhood. The Sixteenth Street building continued to serve as the chancery until 2002, when it was purchased by developers to be renovated as an apartment complex.
DC Inventory: February 23, 2006