The Hill…

The Hill…

by guest contributor John Arundel
Photo credit: James Brantley

The Hill newspaper hosted one of the more elegant kick-offs to the 99th White House Correspondents’ Weekend with festivities at the Residence of the Turkish Ambassador on Embassy Row.

Conrad Cafritz

The ornate mansion was built in 1914 for wealthy industrialist Edward Everett of Cleveland who, in addition to forays into beer making and Texas oil drilling, invented the Coca Cola bottle cap. 

So it was perhaps no surprise then that Coca Cola was a principal sponsor of the sparkling shindig, which featured Turkish delicacies, open bars (featuring all manor of Coca Cola soft drink products, of course), passed hors d’oeurves and lively conversation between the 500 or so media, political and Hollywood elites in attendance.


Arriving guests passed through metal detectors and onto the Red Carpet, stopping long enough to pose in front of the step and repeat, where The Hill‘s In The Know Columnist Judy Kurtz was waiting to interview arriving headliners on camera.


“The White House Correspondents’ Association Weekend hasn’t really started until The Hill holds its reception at the Turkish Embassy,” Kurtz proclaimed.

“For those who come from New York and other parts of the country, it’s a great opportunity to see a lot of friends all at once,” Huffington Post founder and Editor in Chief Ariana Huffington told Kurtz. “I look forward to sitting next to Gov. Chris Christie who’s our guest tomorrow and also Bon Jovi who’s also our guest…It’s a great combination of the New Jersey Boys.”


Arianna Huffington

Newsweek/Daily Beast Editor Tina Brown called the weekend “great fun” because normally she works in “a very glossy environment” and it’s “fun to see people together like this.”

CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King told Kurtz that she always looks forward to what the President has to say, what Conan O’Brien is going to do, and what the First Lady is going to wear. “It’s one of those fun weekends with a great mix of people,  where you have a great mix of people that aren’t normally together, getting together.”

A close pal of Oprah Winfrey, and editor at large for O magazine, King told Kurtz that she would “absolutely, positively not” run for public office. “I know they always say, ‘Never say never.’ But I can tell you — never.”


Gayle King

Outside the corridors of big media Brent Roske, the Executive Producer of “Chasing The Hill”, told Kurtz that, “it’s always fun to see the folks in this line of work really let their hair down and have some fun,” adding that, “Whenever there’s a good party in DC, there’s always a possibility of a good plotline for an episode.” That is why, he says, “I’ve never said no to an invitation to a good party.”

For many attending the exquisite residence was the party, as they gawked at the ornate handiwork of well-known Washington architect George Oakley Totten, Jr. who designed the building in 1914, after, surprisingly, it was the longtime site of a city dump.

With Renaissance styles architectural features on the exterior, the interior aesthetics include a black and white marble entrance hall, gold plated door-knobs, brocaded walls, teakwood floors, a musicians gallery, paneled ballroom, a rococo-styled Otis elevator, and a swimming pool in the basement level.
Everett continued to reside in the mansion until his death in 1929, and his second wife, operatic soprano Grace Burnap, until 1932. The Everetts would entertain several hundred guests with the latest musical geniuses while they were seated in gold painted art nouveau bentwood chairs.
Upon the death of Grace Everett, the chairs had allegedly disappeared, only to be rediscovered in the early 1980s in the attic of the mansion. The house was rented to the Turkish embassy in 1932, where it is now lived in by Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan, a frequent host on Embassy Row.