Shortly after Mario Castillo, a lobbyist in Washington, DC, moved into the city’s Kalorama neighborhood, in the late 1990s, a maid appeared at his door carrying a handwritten note on a silver tray. It was a message from an elderly neighbor two doors away: “Welcome to the neighborhood.”
In the years since, Kalorama has held on to its reputation as one of Washington’s most refined neighborhoods, which is just one of the reasons that these days it is playing home to some of the capital’s most influential people. Sure, Castillo was impressed by his neighbors back in the day, but since he moved in things have only gotten glitzier. Barack and Michelle Obama will live in a nine-bedroom mansion two doors down, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have moved into a $5.5 million property around the corner, and Amazon founder (and Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos purchased a 27,000-square-foot property just a couple of blocks away.
And while these recent additions have turned this quiet enclave two miles north of the White House into a haven for Washington’s new power players, it hasn’t changed Kalorama’s defining decorum. “We’re neighbors first,” Castillo says, “and titles second.”
Obama isn’t the first former commander-in-chief to be drawn to Kalorama; five other presidents, including Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, have lived there. The area’s large, historic homes and leafy streets offer respite from the pressures of government, while its downtown location ensures convenience. “It’s suburban living in the middle of town,” says former Tennessee congressman Bart Gordon.
Current residents are a mix of politicos, ambassadors, business titans, and under-the-radar power brokers, as well as bold-faced names like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Fox News host Chris Wallace. Neighbors bump into each other while running out to get milk—or -prosciutto—at the Open Door Market, the corner store, while dining at the nearby La Tomate Bistro, during cardio cross-training classes at the Washington Sports Clubs, at the busy Starbucks on Connecticut Avenue, or while shopping at the Sunday morning farmers market in Dupont Circle.
But the area’s town square is undoubtedly Mitchell Park. That’s where parents take phone calls while their children—who mostly attend exclusive private schools like Maret, Sidwell Friends, National Cathedral, and Georgetown Day—climb the jungle gym, and you might catch President Obama, or a helpful Secret Service agent, walking former first dogs Bo and Sunny. The annual fund-raiser to benefit the park is the best-attended neighborhood event of the year; this past March it was held at the French ambassador’s residence.
Of course, plenty of the neighborhood’s important events happen in more private environments. Cocktail and dinner parties are the center of social life. The noted hostess Juleanna Glover regularly throws well-attended parties, such as last summer’s toast to His Excellency Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan ambassador to the United States.
In addition to these functions, neighbors often visit one another’s homes, quieter get-togethers that recall the fabled Georgetown salons of the mid-20th century. “Those iconic Washington dinner parties,” says Jim Bell, an in-demand local real estate agent, “often take place in Kalorama.”
And, according to Castillo, who recently listed his home for $3.8 million, Kalorama comes with an additional feature of particular value to DC’s ruling class: discretion. Neither Obama nor Ivanka will have to worry about reading something they said to a neighbor in the next day’s newspaper.
“There’s an unwritten rule,” Castillo says. “Whatever is discussed in private remains private.”
Source: TOWN & COUNTRY