Preservation of the Townsend House

The Cosmos Club Historic Preservation Foundation was established in 1985 to maintain and preserve the Townsend House and its historic environs. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, so gifts to the Foundation are deductible for income and estate tax purposes.

Following the award winning restoration of the Warne Ballroom in 2012, the Foundation has funded restoration projects in three other important rooms. It replicated the worn-out oak flooring in the old Members’ Dining Room and the Club Room. The Club Room’s original marble mantel and hearth were reinstalled, a missing overdoor panel was replicated, and its deteriorated windows were restored inside and out. The Lobby restoration included replication of original door panels, repair of the windows and marble floor, and restoring the coloration of the Lobby’s walls of Caen stone, a manufactured stone popular at the turn of the twentieth century.

At the front of the building, the marquise and iron window grills were restored in 2016 and the deteriorated block-stamped cement driveway was replicated in kind and made wheelchair accessible. The underlying problems with drainage and foundation waterproofing were rectified.

 A decade of generous bequests and annual contributions enabled the Foundation to restore the Warne ballroom to its original splendor while retaining sufficient funds to undertake these subsequent, much needed projects. The Foundation contributed approximately $1.7 million to the ballroom restoration and an additional $1.2 million to the subsequent projects.

Earlier, the Foundation made substantial contributions to upgrading the electrical and plumbing systems and installing a fire suppression sprinkler system to ensure the long-term safety of the building. The Foundation has funded repairs of the roof, masonry, windows, and gutters of the historic building as needed.  The Foundation also funded the restoration of the decorative iron fence around the perimeter of the property.

For the enhancement of the Club’s historic neighborhood setting, the Foundation has made historic preservation grants in the community for restoration of the historic call boxes in the Dupont Circle area, for historic markers, and for restoration of the buffalo sculptures at the Q Street Bridge and for preservation of the historic Heurich Mansion. For the benefit of scholars and interested members of the public, the Foundation funded high resolution scans of forty circa 1910 Frances Benjamin Johnston photographs of the Townsend House in the Library of Congress collection to be posted on the Library’s website. These also have proved valuable in guiding Club restoration projects.