(Bloomberg) -- When the Washington, DC, hostess, diplomat and philanthropist Esther Coopersmith died in March at the age of 94, the glowing obituaries that followed consistently mentioned her home.

The Washington Post wrote that she lived in “a mansion in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington near Embassy Row,” which was “a ritual stop for envoys newly arrived in Washington.” The New York Times noted that her dining room could host 75, adding that a seat at her table “provided access to networks of money, influence and power across cultural and political divides.”

Now, Coopersmith’s estate is putting the storied property on the market, listing it for $18.5 million with Jonathan Taylor of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. “She loved that house,” says her longtime chief of staff, Janet Pitt. “She never wanted to leave.”

A Gut Renovation

Coopersmith came to the house in the mid-1990s, Pitt says. Her husband Jack, a successful real estate developer, had died a few years earlier, and after suddenly selling her old property, “she was in the position of trying to find another place to live,” Pitt says.

The roughly 12,600-square-foot house, which is on a double lot, “was in total disrepair,” Pitt continues. But Coopersmith saw its potential. Already an established DC fundraiser and hostess, she knew the house could be turned into the perfect social hub for the city’s powerbrokers. 

Coopersmith knocked down a warren of servants rooms on the ground floor, turning the area into the house’s famous dining room. “There were two living rooms upstairs, and she knocked down the wall and created one big salon area,” Pitt says. Outside, she bricked the backyard into three terraces. “She made a lot of really lovely changes.”

Pitt says Coopersmith was involved with the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the US Department of State and got to know the curator there and its architects and designers. “One of them came and helped her design her home—where the art should go, what the furniture should look like, all of that.” As a result, “it looked like you were walking into the State Department or the White House. It just had that very elegant, Washington worldly feel about it.”

What’s Inside

In total, the house has six bedrooms, as well as seven full and three half baths. Guests can enter through the front door into a grand foyer; to their left is a 36-foot-long formal dining room; to their right is a reception room. In the back of the ground floor, there’s a large bedroom, bath and kitchen. Ascend the stairs—there’s also an elevator—to the second floor, and you’ll find a large gallery, two formal living rooms, a slightly less formal family room and a second kitchen.

On that second floor, French doors open onto a terrace, which leads down to the garden in back.

The third floor was entirely devoted to Coopersmith’s personal living quarters, with a colossal bedroom, bath and walk-in closet that occupied half the space. The other half was her private office. 

The top floor is comprised of three guest bedrooms. “She had really VIP, well-known people around the world, and when they would come to Washington, they would stay with her,” Pitt says. “The director general of Unesco became her friend. So when she came to Washington, she stayed at Esther’s house.”

Elaborate Parties

The true testament of the house, Pitt says, is its flexibility. “We did big, elaborate dinner parties for the secretary-general of the United Nations,” Pitt says. “We also did very large receptions: We had President Biden at the house, we had President Obama at the house, we had Laura Bush at the house. And we had lots of candidates who were running.”

In the White House’s official statement about Coopersmith’s death, the president wrote that as a 29-year-old running for the Senate, “Esther was one of my early boosters, and her belief in me meant the world.”

When Hillary Clinton was running for president, they did a dinner for her outside, on the property’s terraces, for 275 people, Pitt says. In his own statement on Coopersmith’s passing, former President Bill Clinton wrote, “I’ll always be grateful for the extraordinary friendship, kindness, and support she gave Hillary and me over so many years.”

The house has also played host to a number of celebrities. At a dinner party for 125 people in honor of Barbra Streisand and the Women’s Heart Alliance, “I seated [Streisand] between Senator McCain, who’s a Republican, and Senator Markey, who’s a Democrat, and across from Dr. Fauci, who nine years ago wasn’t a name everybody knew,” says Pitt. 

But, Pitt continues, Coopersmith also hosted much smaller gatherings—a book party, a reception, a luncheon. “There’s very few homes you can go into that are great to have 250, 300 people in and are also not so voluminous that if you’re living alone, it doesn’t feel like you’re in this castle by yourself,” she says. “There’s not a gazillion rooms and little hallways to go here or there. It’s a home. It’s not a building.”

Pitt imagines that potential buyers include a nonprofit organization or “an embassy that wants to upgrade their ambassador’s residence,” she says. “It’s possible that somebody wants to come in and raise their family—and also do some entertaining.”

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