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Perna Houses Washington, D. C.

  • Name: 4112-4118 Chesapeake Street, NW
  • Year Built: 1909
  • Architect: William L. Conley
  • Built By: Perna Brothers

At the end of the 19th century, the Perna brothers, Francesco/Frank and Luigi/Louis emigrated to the United States from Calabria, Italy, an area noted for its stone buildings. Both were experienced stone masons and came to Washington, DC upon hearing that there were many construction projects underway. The families of both brothers grew and many family members lived in the area of the Chesapeake Street houses. Also in the area, near the intersection of Chesapeake and 42nd Streets was the Perna stone yard.

The Perna brothers built several other houses in Tenleytown, some of which have been razed. However, the houses at 4619 and 4621 42nd Street remain.

The Chesapeake Street houses, still owned by a Perna descendant, reflect Tenleytown’s transition from a village-like settlement to a streetcar “suburb within the city” and introduce a more urban form of housing to the neighborhood. They are early examples of the many stone buildings in Tenleytown. The front facades are rectangular sandstone blocks of various sizes and vary in color from red to purple. They are best described as a pair of duplex houses, two stories tall with attics and raised basements.

The Perna brothers also worked on the Rock Creek Parkway bridge, All Souls Episcopal Church on Cathedral Avenue, and the Washington Monument.

(Listed in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites, 2017)

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