Tue, Jun 21, 2016

Real Estate & Property
Mayfair’s ‘Little White House’ up for sale

A house billed as “London’s most protected private home” and located in Mayfair’s Embassy Quarter is on the market for £2.5 million ($3.68 million).

The Little White House at 4 Blackburne’s Mews in Mayfair is located in a private gated mews complex that is adjacent to the American Embassy and within its protective perimeter. 

Currently, the house sits inside the American Embassy’s security cordon that includes identity card access, patrolling US marines, 24-hour British police presence, checkpoints, anti-tank blocks and CCTV security.

However this cordon will soon end and the house’s agent Wetherell forecasts that a major property opportunity for the Little White House will arise next year in 2017 when the US Embassy and relocates to Nine Elms. It provides Blackburne’s Mews and the vacant Embassy with the biggest urban renewal and capital value uplift opportunity since the 1960s with the embassy being transformed into a five-star hotel and luxury resort.

The property is known as the Little White House due to its white façade; grand 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue style entrance hall and sweeping staircase; and its proximity to and long-standing links with the adjacent American Embassy. 

The white house at 4 Blackburne’s Mews dates back to 1732; with major reconstruction undertaken in 1926-1928 by William Forsyth and Hugh Maule of West End architects Forsyth & Maule (the Washington white house was designed by James Hoban and built in 1792-1800).

Running north-south, Blackburne’s Mews is located directly adjacent to the rear of the American Embassy whose front façade overlooks Grosvenor Square. 

The close relationship between the Little White House and the American Embassy started in 1785 when the first ever American diplomatic mission was founded by John Adams (later President of the US), who rented a house on adjacent Grosvenor Square. In 1811 the mission was raised to Minister & Charge d’Affaires status and in 1893 the first US Ambassador was appointed. 

During the early decades, some of the embassy staff rented rooms in houses in the surrounding streets and during the Victorian era the American Embassy invited neighbouring residents from Grosvenor Square, Blackburne’s Mews and Culross Street to festive parties and social occasions at the Embassy. 

Between 1957-1960 a new six storey American Embassy building, designed by modernist architect Eero Saarinen was built along the Western side of Grosvenor Square, backing directly onto Blackburne’s Mews. 

During the Kennedy and LBJ administrations of the 1960s local residents from Blackburne’s Mews and Culross Street were allowed to use the embassy library and were invited regularly to embassy jazz concerts and art shows, and it’s from this era that the white stucco-fronted house at No.4 acquired its nickname the ‘Little White House’. 

From 1968 the embassy’s neighbour-outreach programme was halted with security levels dramatically increased in 1985 and September 2011. Following 9/11, Blackburne’s Mews was incorporated into the embassy’s protective perimeter. 

Police checkpoints and anti-tank blocks were placed at both ends of Blackburne’s Mews, whilst inside the checkpoints 2- hour police patrols, US marine security checks and CCTV cameras were established. In addition, every resident, uniquely for Britain, was asked to carry an identity card and every visitor to the mews was required to explain themselves. These measures made the house and its neighbours arguably the “most protected private homes in Britain”. 

The biggest property opportunity for the house will arise next year in 2017 when the US Embassy relocates south of the River Thames to Nine Elms. The move will provide Blackburne’s Mews and the vacant embassy with the biggest urban renewal opportunity since the 1960s and create a new era for Grosvenor Square. 

The embassy will be transformed into a five-star hotel and resort. The new luxury complex will provide 137 bedrooms and suites, a ballroom, health spa, five restaurants/bars and six retail boutiques, with new public entrances fronting onto Grosvenor Square and Blackburne’s Mews.

Peter Wetherell, Chief Executive of Wetherell says: “The Little White House in Blackburne’s Mews provides the adroit buyer with an outstanding and unique long term investment and lifestyle opportunity. The transformed embassy building will become London’s next Claridges or Connaught Hotel with the purchaser having the benefit of living right on the doorstep. The resort’s restaurants, bars, health spa and boutiques will be one of the ‘must visit’ destinations in Mayfair, and the urban renewal has the potential to give huge uplift to property values in the local area.”

The Little White House provides 2,773 sq ft of living space over lower ground, ground, first and second floors and benefits from an integral garage and access to communal gardens. 

The property has a grand entrance hall with sweeping staircase leading up to a large double reception room on the first floor which provides great entertaining space and fantastic natural light. 

There is a ground floor formal dining room, with doors opening onto the communal garden, and a large family kitchen/breakfast room. The remainder of the accommodation provides four bedroom suites, each with fitted wardrobes and ensuite bath/shower rooms, guest cloakroom and utility/storage room. 

The Little White House is available for sale for £2.5 million (leasehold).

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