Hoarders Fantasy? Kondo Nightmare? Neither! It’s the Mansion on O Street!

Our final hurrah! outing as a family this summer was great fun! Originally built as a cluster of three townhomes in lofty Dupont Circle for U.S. Capitol architect Edward Clark, eventually two adjacent townhomes were added and the Mansion became a gathering place for artists, Ambassadors, and Presidents (it’s also a boutique hotel). Rosa Parks even lived in this suite in the Mansion for ten years.

The Mansion offers Scavenger Hunts across its 100 rooms (including a two-level log cabin) with 70(!) secret doors. Even more eccentric is that everything (except the signed guitars) is for sale, even the $12,000 chandelier in the entry, with all proceeds going to artistic charities.

The four of us chose the “Espionage” theme and spent a little more than two fun-filled sleuthing hours roaming the rooms before lunchtime hunger set in. For the clue about President FDR establishing a Special Intelligence Service, the answer was a four-part VHS series, tucked onto a shelf in one of the rooms. Pretty sneaky.

The craziest item on our list was the “Rock & Roll Agent.” Skunk Baxter, a guitarist for Steeley Dan and the Doobie Brothers who also worked as a CIA agent; and presently serves as a counterintelligence adviser. 

Sleuthing was not easy, as all of the rooms were filled to the brim with possible clues!


Anna Grace found the first secret door; and Jack found the door to the quartz-lined wine cellar. Eight more secret doors were found, ranking us as super sleuths.

When all was said and done, Team Ulses had scored 100 points!