This house won’t be on an FBI tour of DC. Even though it must be the worst kept spy secret in the city.
I first learned about the it in the early 80s when a friend lived in a group house a few doors down. And her housemates always talked about how odd it was that every morning a couple arrived, not left, the house wearing business clothes. As if they were coming home to their jobs. And they weren’t very big on small talk either. Clearly something wasn’t right.
This story is one of the hidden gems in DC. It turns out the house is owned by the FBI. It’s right across the street from the Russian Embassy on Wisconsin Avenue and is used as an observation post. Aside from the odd residents, a few other things give the secret away. The first is the skylights. You rarely see them on the front of houses. The second is when the light is right you can see cameras in the windows. Lastly, it has very little personality. No welcome mat, landscaping, flowerpots, and certainly no sign saying this house is protected by the XYZ Security Co.
Built in 1935, it’s typical for houses in the Observatory Circle neighborhood. It’s 5 bedrooms, 4 baths and while not one of the famous landmarks in Washington DC, it is worth about $1.9 million.
In 2018 a developer put forth a plan to build an assisted living facility on the site. But how would the FBI surveillance work out of an assisted living home. Would retired FBI agents take turns watching the Russians? Or would spying be one of the facility’s daily activities, like bingo?
So, if you’re ever in Washington and visit the Russian embassy, just know that you’re not the only one who knows you’re there.
I like to include this on one of my DC walking tours so go to offtherecordtours.com to arrange you private walking tour of DC.