Unique Spaces: The Bank that Became a Home

by Jennifer Sergent

Unique Spaces: The Bank that Became a Home: Figure 1
The old City Bank.

This article was published in June 2010 as part of UrbanTurf's Unique Spaces series, where we take a look at properties that could be considered “one-of-a-kind” in the DC area. If you have a home that you think fits the bill, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). See all of our past Unique Spaces articles here.

In 1993, Dr. Gary Mintz made an unusual home purchase: He bought an old bank in Capitol Hill and set about renovating it. After it was finished, the home, formerly a branch of The City Bank, received dozens of published accolades for its architecture and gardens surrounding it.

Unique Spaces: The Bank that Became a Home: Figure 2
Dr. Mintz's home today, courtesy of Google Maps.

It’s been about seven years since the house was featured in a print publication, yet to tour it today, you’d never know the renovation took place 17 years ago, aside from the fact that the fully mature gardens nestle it so well that you might miss it passing by.

When Mintz moved to DC from Philadelphia, he initially rented an apartment in Dupont Circle, but his eyes were always set on searching for an old commercial property that he could convert. Philadelphia has a history of adaptive re-use as developers have taken hospitals, old YMCA’s, foundries, factories of all kinds, and schools, and turned them into apartments.

“It didn’t have to be a bank,” Mintz told UrbanTurf, noting that he had previously lived in a former candy store.

The agent who rented him his Dupont Circle apartment tipped Mintz off about the bank. It had languished on the market (and was trashed, according to Mintz), and the bank parking lot was now row houses.

“It seemed to be the right size to make into a small house,” he remembers. “And it had space outside for a garden.”

Unique Spaces: The Bank that Became a Home: Figure 3
The bank’s old night deposit box now serves as the mailbox. When the regular postman is on vacation, Mintz says the substitutes sometimes don’t know where to put the mail.

It must have been fate that the landscape firm he chose -- the nationally renowned Oehme van Sweden Landscape Architects -- has its offices in the former City Bank headquarters at 800 G Street SE.

“When I discovered that their offices and my house were related, it became almost obligatory," Mintz said.

Unique Spaces: The Bank that Became a Home: Figure 4

Mintz was intent that the remodel not change any of the exterior walls or architecture, so he hired his friend Philadelphia architect Michael Hauptman and Glass Construction, which specializes in historic restoration, to execute the project.

The result is a thoroughly modern interior that hides behind the old bank’s neoclassic façade. What used to be the bank lobby is now the living room and the dining room is the former bank vault. The main area of the second floor was constructed within the bank’s original walls, with a floor made of perforated metal. It contrasts with the historic window trim and moldings at the ceiling (see photo below). For the fireplace in the living room, Mintz and Hauptman made several drawings, inspired by the designs of noted Swiss architect Mario Botta.

Mintz’s modern art collection, which includes works by Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, and Frank Stella, is displayed throughout the house.

Unique Spaces: The Bank that Became a Home: Figure 5

Mintz has opened the doors for house tours twice – in 1995 and 2005 – but probably won’t do so again, because visitors were disrespectful of his belongs, picking up valuable ceramics and sitting on the furniture. Despite that, Mintz relishes living on Capitol Hill, where there is a strong sense of community, and the novelty of his project has evolved into a comfortable existence.

Unique Spaces: The Bank that Became a Home: Figure 6
Looking down on the dining room. The colorful squares are a series by Josef Albers.

“People ask me if I am going to do anything else," Mintz said. "I don’t think I can do any better than this!”

UrbanTurf contributor Jennifer Sergent is the brains behind the DC By Design blog. She was most recently the senior editor at Washington Spaces magazine.

See other articles related to: unique spaces, dclofts, capitol hill

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/unique_spaces_the_bank_that_became_a_home/2193


  1. Brass said at 2:49 pm on Wednesday June 23, 2010:
    Great home. The mailbox, by the way, would be hard for me to find, too.
  1. Gabriela said at 5:45 pm on Wednesday June 23, 2010:
    I used to live around the corner from this place and the garden is absolutely awesome. I always wanted to go inside.
  1. Becca said at 6:39 pm on Wednesday June 23, 2010:
    Thanks so much for writing about this house! I own a condo in the building behind the bank house (the one in the old b&w photo in your post) and walk by this house every day. I have always wondered the story behind it. Now I know!
  1. Fritz Hubig said at 6:49 am on Thursday June 24, 2010:
    I've lived next to this home for 12 years and have always wanted to know about it. Thanks for publishing this!
  1. M said at 10:54 pm on Thursday June 24, 2010:
    What is the intersection where this house is located? Is this the one on East Capitol?
  1. Dora said at 8:02 am on Friday June 25, 2010:
    great home, great design, great art --- and great guy. I used to be his neighbor across 9th street from this place!

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way
Real Estate Primer: Northern Virginia

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »