Latvia sells old embassy in Washington

Four years after opening its new embassy in Washington, D.C., Latvia has sold the old building that had served as the government-in-exile’s legation since the 1950s.

The residential property in the city’s Crestwood neighborhood sold in a Jan. 7 auction to the sole bidder for USD 460,250, according to a press release from the government-owned State Real Estate (Valsts nekustamie īpašumi). The buyers, according to the Latvian Embassy, are Jean Kornfeld and Miljodrag Miljanic.

The Latvian Legation acquired the property at 4325 17th Street N.W. in 1953.

The property had a 2009 assessed value of USD 778,010, which was projected to drop to USD 669,360 this year, according to District of Columbia property records. The assessed value is the one used to figure property tax. The actual market value typically is greater than the assessed value.

However, State Real Estate noted in its press release, given the economic situation in the United States, differences in the legal systems between the U.S. and Latvia, and the fact that the building has stood vacant for several years while its condition has deteriorated, the auction can be viewed as successful. The value of the property set by the real estate service was USD 460,000.

To save on the expense of sending representatives to the United States, according to the government real estate service, the auction took place via videoconference between Rīga and Washington.

The buyers have three weeks to complete the sale.

Kornfeld and Miljanic, according to the Latvian Embassy, plan to remodel the building but respect its historical significance.

Latvia in 2001 bought the new embassy building at 2306 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. for $2.5 million, according to District of Columbia property records. Known as the Barney Studio House, the building on Embassy Row was remodeled and opened in December 2005.

Latvian Legation

Latvia’s old embassy building in Washington, D.C., has been sold at auction. (Photo by District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue)

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

8 thoughts on “Latvia sells old embassy in Washington

  1. Check out Latvia’s Embassy here in Canada. It’s a hotel room and a half in downtown Ottawa. Not nice staff. I was berated for misspeling the name of the Ambassador. Apparently it’s Mr Krams and not Mr Kraams. But, you see, in English I heard Mr Kraams. What’s a mother to do?!

  2. Anyone contacting the Latvian Embassy in Ottawa deserves better than a grumpy putdown. I myself met the ambassador and he introduced himself as Mr. Krams with a long a. In English looking at the name it would be natural to call him thus. As an American citizen I prefer to do business with the Latvian Embassy in Washington.

  3. I would love to know how they plan to respect “the historical significance” of the building. Then again, it is filled with the earnest diplomatic ghosts of such men as Anatols Dinbergs, Arnolds Spekke, Julijs Feldmanis and Alfreds Bilmanis, to name only a few, so even a modicum of effort will be appreciated.

  4. Dear Ilze, maybe we should be thankful that Latvia even has an embassy here, given the difficult economic times. As for the staff, I have found them to be very professional and pleasant to deal with. What’s a mother to do? Perhaps brush up on her Latvian.

  5. Regarding Latvian spelling abroad and at home I well understand ‘the mother’. Long vowels or not she did her best to accomodate and as it seems the adaption to Canadian spelling as the embassy has decided upon to utilize is very much a subjective approach. Let’s not scold and be picky where not necessary, shall we?

  6. I had the honour of meeting the ambassador at a lavish private reception in Kanata, Ontario. He introduced himself as Krams, not Krms. I understand how “mother” could have been confused. She did not deserve to be scolded.

  7. Mexico and the USA are served by the same Latvian Embassy. To cut costs should not we include Canada in one expanded embassy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *