If Walls Could Talk: The Red House at 2511 Cliffbourne Pl. NW – Part 3

This is the third post in a four-part series covering the rainbow row of homes on Cliffbourne Pl. NW, between Calvert St. and Biltmore St. It’s a very striking red, which looks great at sunset and it has an amazing wooden front door. Let’s find out what happened in this home … the one at 2511 Cliffbourne Pl. NW.

The Red House: 2511 Cliffbourne Pl. NW
The Red House: 2511 Cliffbourne Pl. NW

The unexpected death of a general’s wife

On March 27th, 1943, the Washington Post reported the untimely death of Jane McCallum Carmichael, 62 years old. She was the wife of Major General Roderick Leland Carmichael, the former Army Chief of Finance. Her funeral was presided over by the Rev. John C. Palmer of the Washington heights Presbyterian Church at 1862 Kalorama Rd. NW (Washington Heights was the old name for Adams Morgan).

The Maj. General and Mrs. Carmichael were long-time District residents and had also spent time living in China, the Philippines and Puerto Rico during Major General Carmichael’s tour of duty.

Back in the 1920s, a federal income tax was just about a decade old after the passage of the 16th Amendment. The Washington Post frequently printed the amount people paid in income tax (strange). In September of 1925, Roderick Carmichael was listed as having paid a total of $46.73 to the United States Government.

Ellison Smith (Wikipedia)
Ellison Smith (Wikipedia)

In the November 2nd, 1926 Washington Post society pages, some prominent guests are noted to be visiting the Carmichael home.

Mrs. Ellison D. Smith, wife of Senator Smith, of South Carolina, and her daughter, Miss Anna Smith, are the guests of Col. and Mrs. Roderick L. Carmichael, of 2511 Cliffbourne place. Miss Smith will enter the King-Smith studio as a student.

Miss Marion Carmichael, daughter of Col and Mrs. Carmichael, is passing a few weeks as the guest of Maj. and Mrs. H. L. Waltball, at Fort Hamilton, N. Y., and will include in her trip a week-end visit to her brother, Cadet Roderick Carmichael, jr., a cadet at West Point. She will return to Washington the middle of the month.

Senator Ellison DuRant Smith (aka, “Cotton Ed”) was a staunch Southern Democrat, a bigot and a blatant racist. He opposed the women’s suffrage movement principally because it was seen as a step to support black suffrage. On the Senate floor in 1919, he made a statement about the 19th Amendment:

“Here is exactly the identical same amendment applied to the other half of the Negro race. The southern man who votes for the Susan B. Anthony Amendment votes to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment.”

Cotton Ed was born in Lynchburg, South Carolina towards the end of The Civil War — or as he would have labeled it, the War of Northern Aggression — served in the United States Senate for 35 years, and was a giant racist. Unfortunately, either Col. and Mrs. Carmichael either didn’t have a problem with that or, even worse, shared the Senator’s views.

Paintings by Visual Liberation Group

In 1970, Jack Perlmutter operated his studio out of 2511 Cliffbourne Place. Jack was a Washington-based painter and printmaker. On the 23rd and 24th of May, an advertisement in the Washington Post mentioned that he was having an art show at his studio, exhibiting the work of 15 artists: Mary Ames, Susan Berlin, Nancy Lee Bolton, Frances Brown, Leolla Glick, Justine Guthrie, Joy Halsted, Marcia Johnson, Bea Koplovitz, Ann Lee, Libby Monroe, Barbara Romney, Raye Roscow, Rose Mary Stearns and Roberta White.

Liftoff at 15 seconds by Jack Perlmutter (1982)
Liftoff at 15 seconds by Jack Perlmutter (1982)

Mr. Perlmutter was a prominent local artist and he often held open houses and art shows in his home during his time. He was born in New York City in 1920 and passed away in 2006. Here is another example of his work, appraised at $1,200.

Filling in the gaps

Here is one shorter story I came across when looking into the building.

In early July of 1948, an article in the Washington Post mentions that a number of District residents took the oath to become U.S. citizens. Among these was a man by the name of Jacques Bedestarres of 2511 Cliffbourne Pl. NW. A total of 42 people were given the oath by Justice T. Alan Goldsborough at the District Court.

The last home, the blue one, will be posted this afternoon. This one has the best stories, so come back to read about them. Follow Ghosts of DC on Twitter or Facebook to get notified when it goes up.

The "Rainbow Row" of homes on Cliffbourne Pl. NW
The "Rainbow Row" of homes on Cliffbourne Pl. NW

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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