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Dark Shadows: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Tumulty house, 1917 Kalorama Road." Residence of Joseph P. Tumulty, President Wilson's private secretary. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Tumulty house, 1917 Kalorama Road." Residence of Joseph P. Tumulty, President Wilson's private secretary. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

My relatives' home

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Tumulty were my great-great grandparents and we have other images which I can now place on the porch, etc. It is wonderful to find this long forgotten family element. Thank you!

-- Alicia Gordon, Boston
(Daughter of Alicia Donnelly Barry, daughter of John Donnelly and Alicia Tumulty Donnelly, daughter of Joseph Tumulty).

P.S. Lovely to hear such a wonderful mention of our Uncle Phil who I do know to have been loved and respected by all at John Hopkins. Thank you once again.

Classic haunted house

What a wonderful photograph, so rich. Old and daunting as it looks here, it must have held a tremendous amount of life and living in its time. And, unless boxy inside, it looks to be quite spacious. LOVE the wraparound porch. The chiaroscuro qualities of the photo is spooky. Matches many an iconic classic haunted house image.

Boss Shepherd

I passed Shepherd's bronze likeness frequently when I lived in D.C. He had a sense of humor -- he named his large and forbidding mansion (not this one) "Bleak House."

I bet

Barnabas Collins would love this house!

Original Addams Family House

I know for a certain fact that the Addams Family house was inspired by a home in Westfield, New Jersey.

I wish I remembered the location to street view it. It was the house that Addams drew for the comics, not the location from the tv series.

Boss Shepherd

So this was Boss Shepherd's house? Cool.

Alexander Robey Shepherd (1835 – 1902), better known as Boss Shepherd, was one of the most controversial and influential civic leaders in the history of Washington, D.C., and one of the most powerful big-city political bosses of the Gilded Age. He was head of the DC Board of Public Works from 1871 to 1873 and Governor of the District of Columbia from 1873 to 1874. He is known, particularly in Washington, as "The Father of Modern Washington."


This is a case where the subject is not well served by being in Black & White. Typically these old Victorians were brightly painted in several colours to emphasize the decoration. So what looks like it would be a gloomy and scary place would really have been a riot of colour.

The house was ill-served by the 1921 makeover. It appears to have been painted in a single colour, the upstairs balcony was enclosed, the porch columns were replaced and simplified, and much of the "gingerbread" that was a feature of Victorian architecture was eliminated or simplified. That can be seen by comparing the fan feature above the front steps and above the balcony/bump-out on the second floor. Wouldn't be surprised if they did away with the end balcony and simply put a roof over the brick first floor. Looks like they were trying for something approaching a Craftsman style look.

I double dog dare you

"C'mon Davey, go up and ring the doorbell. What, you chicken? Scaredycat!"

Mrs. Tumulty's House

Photo Caption, Washington Post, Nov 14, 1920

Famous Washington Home Bought
By Wife of White House Secretary

Mansion erected by former Gov. Alexander Shepherd, of the District, which was purchased last week by Mrs. Joseph P. Tumulty, wife of the secretary of President Wilson. Henry W. Seymour is the former owner of the house, which had been occupied by the widow of Gov. Shepherd since the latter's death. It is located at Twentieth street and Kalorama road northwest.

The house was razed circa 1929 to make way for the apartment building currently occupying the corner.

Painted lady

I disagree with most of the comments made here so far. This is a lovely and nicely proportioned Victorian home. It would have been painted cheerily, probably with three bright colors. If we had this shot in color, it would seem like a warm and welcoming place.

Groovy Gable

The gable carving in the original iteration has a "Summer of Love" look to it.

This Old House

Chez Tumulty circa 1921 after a makeover. Click to enlarge.

Gable carvings

The gable carvings seem lighthearted and cheery to me. I'd bet in color, this would not look nearly so 'haunted' -- but as is, a great Halloween house.

Wonderful rounded corner as well.

Great Shorpy Timing!

With Halloween just around the corner, this house seems to perfectly fit the classic haunted house image -- just add a few cobwebs, a headstone or two, and you can almost hear a witch cackling or a wolf baying under the cover of a gloomy night

Does Freddy live here?

This could truly be a scene out of "Nightmare on Kalorama Road." If it were Halloween night, I'm not sure I would go knocking on the door.

Chez Tumulty

The guy sure liked his chicken wire. Maybe he used his house as a parade float.

No more

This is now a block of "prewar"-style apartment buildings, from what I can see on Google Street View. Kalorama is still a nice neighborhood, but certainly a lot more urban and dense than it was in this photo.


If it were still standing, I'd say it was definitely haunted. Very appropriate for Halloween week!

Makes Me Shudder

Were the camera shutter speedier, it would have caught witch Griselda leaving through the upper left bedroom window on her broom. (Note shutter ajar.)

It's a perfect haunted house.


Looks like the residence of the local Addams family.

Knock knock

Appears to have been vacant for a while from the looks of the unsecured shutters and the vines overtaking the balcony. Either that or Joseph wasn't much of a honey-doer.

Dr. T

Joseph Tumulty had a son who became a physician at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the first Chief of Internal Medicine within the Department of Medicine. He was considered by his interns and colleages as one of the finest clinicians. His patients loved him as did anyone who knew him.


My wife and I agree, this is a spooky house. If we were kids we would have to run past this one in the evening.

Secret Shot

The frayed edges of the photo give it a somewhat clandestine look, like it was shot covertly with a spy camera or with a camera hidden from view.

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