One of Embassy Row's most famous Beaux Arts mansions, the Cameroon Embassy at 2349 Mass Avenue, is undergoing a massive renovation.
Too often, "renovation" means overflowing dumpsters, huge fork-lifts, panzer-like trucks and piles of stones and pipes on a site's greenspace for months -- in the name of "fixing up the place."
This time could be different. Catoctin Construction Management and the Embassy are committed to protecting the two young American elm trees, which Restore Mass Ave arranged for the Embassy in our planting with Casey Trees in November 2009.
We chose the species Ulmus americana 'Valley Forge' and precise sites so these trees would add the most value for decades. They would shade the building interior, saving energy; they would help the public notice the features of this "Loire chateau" from far up the avenue. When we visited the Ambassador in his office (in the former ballroom on the main floor, i.e. the floor above street level) we discussed how the tree crowns would shape his views looking out at the magnificent street.
We're grateful to Catoctin's Will Kessinger, Johnny Loomis and Jeff Scott for their commitment to their client's young elms. Also for watering a new cherry tree we planted in the park across the street, which has no local water source otherwise; now the cherry may enhance future Mass Ave views too. (Photo: Rob Nevitt)
Below is one of these elms being planted by volunteers in 2008. Also shown is the Ambassador speaking that day with the DC schoolchildren who participated. He told them Cameroon is an equatorial country and hot like Washington; both need tall trees, he said. Three years on, we at Restore Mass Ave are thrilled by Catoctin's care for this landscape. If it continues through the end of this huge job, the firm will have done its part to realize the vision of high tree crowns, deep shade and lovely views of this corner of Embassy Row. (Photos: RMA)
Below, the eye-catching "chateau" designed by George Oakley Totten in 1908, photographed in 1968 when the "chateau" was the Embassy of Czechoslovakia. (Photo: Washingtoniana Collection, MLK Library)