After hours of blogging about layoffs, dwindling affordable housing funds, decreased construction, low expectations, and moldy and flooded foreclosure properties, I like to look for escapes from all this bad news.

Well, I found one. I went there on Friday, and for a solid two hours, I blissfully toured through glittery chandelier filled rooms, a Christmas-themed guest room, a home theater with old airplane seats, and a bunch of other somewhat astonishingly inventive rooms that seemed to ooze housing and design euphoria of 2005-like proportions.

In 2000, Chris Swanson and Jeff Printz bought the Pierce School for $275,000 from the city. Since then, they’ve transformed the 23,000 square foot property into a 9,500 square foot, two-floor home for themselves, and seven other loft units.

Printz and Swanson own Evolve Property Management, which oversees 510 units throughout the District, mostly on Capitol Hill. They currently own 42 of those units, all inside small apartment buildings, though they’ve sold some of their other properties over the years.

In 1995, they moved to a place close to the old Pierce School, which is located at 14th Street and Maryland Ave, NE.

“We had a couple of other properties up the street,” says Printz. “We always drove by and said ‘Somebody should do something with that, somebody should do something with that,'” he says.

Today, the Pierce School is home to 13 people, including people that live in two units in a townhouse behind the main building.

To enter Swanson and Printz’s home, you walk up the school’s central steps and into a large, rectangular room that is now light pink with 16 chandeliers. “eBay!” chirps Swanson about his collection, which he is still adding to.

For him, the property offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dream various playful ideas into existence. Below are some shots of the third floor.

A version of this blog post is coming out in this week’s issue. I’m going to post some photos of the property today, and others tomorrow.

Jeff Printz (l.) and Chris Swanson in their Living Room

The living room. Above: Jeff Printz and Chris Swanson in their living room. Below: An image of Beethoven is painted on the wall to the right of the door leading into the living room. The entire room has a classical music theme to it. Check out the busts on the table, and in the image above, check out the old-fashioned piano.

The foyer. Above: There are sixteen chandeliers in the main foyer. Doors to former school rooms and coat rooms line the walls of this entrance area. Below: This shot was also taken in the foyer. The mirror shows the door to the living room, on the opposite side of the space. You can also see the bedroom.

Foyer in the Printz and Swanson home.


The bedroom: The wall is painted with a henna design.

Photos by Darrow Montgomery and Ruth Samuelson