Mary Biddle Residence (44)1447 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Constructed in 1878, demolished 1950s
Mary Biddle was the youngest sister of Smithsonian Secretary Spencer F. Baird. Her husband, Henry J. Biddle, who had headed a Philadelphia investment house, died in a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp in 1862. She raised her five children in Philadelphia, but in 1878, she contracted with Cluss to build a part-time Washington residence next to her brother's house. Mrs. Biddle, who received a large inheritance, also loaned her brother, Spencer F. Baird, $12,000 for his house, which Cluss designed for the neighboring property, 1445 Massachusetts Avenue.
In the same block of Massachusetts Avenue Cluss also built a residences for and Thomas Ferguson who worked as Baird's assistant at the U.S. Fish Commission, and maybe also for James Ormond Wilson and Richard Morsell. Nearby also stood the Portland Flats apartment house, and Ferguson Row.
The block of row houses were set back from the main road (Massachusetts Avenue) on a slight elevation. A service road called Highland Terrace ran in front of the houses, creating the effect of a boulevard with shaded trees separating the residences from the busy street.
This block of houses on Massachusetts Avenue clearly reveal Adolf Cluss's prominent clients and social contacts.