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Thomas Ferguson Residence
Thomas Ferguson Residence

Highland Terrace with Ferguson House 1949
Highland Terrace with Ferguson House 1949

Thomas Ferguson Residence (49)

1435 Massachusetts Avenue, NW.
Constructed in 1881, demolished 1959

In 1881, Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze designed a substantial house at 1435 Massachusetts Avenue NW for Major Thomas Ferguson. The house cost $25,000 in a block in which most houses cost $8-10,000. Ferguson's property also included sizable stables to the rear of the house.

Though a native of South Carolina who fought for the Confederate States, Ferguson moved to Baltimore after the Civil War. He married the daughter of the governor of Maryland, and later settled in Washington, working as assistant director of the US Fish Commission under Spencer Baird. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland appointed him to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden and Norway.

In 1893, the German government purchased the Ferguson house for its embassy. With the exception of the World War I years, the house remained the German Embassy until 1941, when the U.S Government, following the German declaration of war against the United States, seized it. In 1946, the Justice Department sold it for $100,000.

In the same block of Massachusetts Avenue, known as Highland Terrace, Cluss also built a residence for Spencer F. Baird, for Baird's sister Mary Biddle, and maybe also for James Ormond Wilson and Richard Morsell. Nearby also stood the Portland Flats apartment house.

The whole block of row houses was 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.

A years after the construction of his residence, Ferguson asked Cluss to design a four-row house for him just north of his property on Massachusetts Avenue on N Street.

This block of houses on Massachusetts Avenue clearly reveal Adolf Cluss's prominent clients and social contacts.




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