The three-story tower addition, which dominates the facade, was built in 1889. Other additions include a two-story brick extension off the west end and a one-story front porch. The house was originally built in the Federal style popular from 1790-1820, and was most likely a five-bay house, centered about the front door. Notice the Federal style symmetry of the original front and side elevations and the elegant entrance with semi-circular fanlight, four-light sidelights, and six-paneled wood door.
The house was built by Robert Alexander (1781-1811); he listed it as his address as early as 1804 when he served on the Third City Council. Alexander was an architect and contractor and was instrumental in the 1807 design of nearby Christ Church at 620 G St SE. He worked closely with Benjamin Henry Latrobe, an architect and Surveyor of Public Buildings of the United States, on construction projects at the Navy Yard.
Later in 1807, Latrobe designed a Greek Revival Customs House for the Treasury Department in New Orleans and not only helped steer the contract to Alexander, but also rented 423 6th Street from Alexander when he left to oversee the work. The New Orleans project was ill-fated; Alexander succumbed to Yellow Fever in 1811 and the Customs House was outgrown and demolished by 1819.
The house’s namesake is James Carbery (1793-1851). He owned the house from 1833 until his heirs sold it in 1881. Carbery was a naval architect, an Inspector of the Timber at the Navy Yard, an original member of St. Peter’s Church, and a local legislator from 1826-1839.
This description was written and researched by Alison Ross, a volunteer with the Capitol Hill Restoration Society.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)