Environs

DC's Brookland is a welcoming neighborhood for professional gay couple

by Will Doig
Published on June 5, 2003, 12:00am | Comments

ROOM TO GROW! 3 fl. brick house w/ huge garden, moss lawn will make your friends green w/ envy. Great views, fireplace, finished basement. Fantastic gay-friendly neighborhood away from the Dupont din. Occupants are GM couple who know a thing or two about flora.

Murray Jolivette, a former senior program officer at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Bill Skinner, a deputy division chief of translation at the International Monetary Fund, live in the Northeast neighborhood of Brookland.

MURRAY [in kitchen]: Would you like some cake? Bill just made it. And we have strawberries and olives and nuts.

BILL: The strawberries came from the Brookland Farmers' Market, which happens every Sunday and Tuesday. Today was its first day of the year. We couldn't wait. Murray's from Louisiana, so he's got some great cooking traditions from there, and I'm from a family of bakers in Boston.

MURRAY: We haven't done it in years, but we used to have a dessert party every year around Christmas, and Bill would bake desserts for weeks in advance. Biscotti, Christmas cookies, cakes. We'd invite a hundred people.

BILL: I'd bake a fruitcake in September, pack it in sugar and store it till Christmas. And last year we had a Gay Men of Brookland potluck cookout thing here. We got about sixty people.

MURRAY: Bill's a great baker. He went to Harvard and I worked at Harvard, but we met here in D.C. at that gym on 18th Street across from Duplex, back when it used to be called Muscle Beach. Now it's called Third Power or something. We lived in Virginia for a while, then Boston, then Dupont Circle. When we moved to Brookland, I thought I'd miss Dupont, but I haven't at all. We love this neighborhood, and we certainly couldn't have this garden in Dupont.

[In garden] The whole yard is moss instead of grass. When we first moved in, the previous owners hadn't raked a leaf in five years. It was a mess. Once we tamed the yard a bit, the moss just grew.

BILL: There was one small patch of it when we started, and every time we'd clear a space, the moss would just grow right into it.

MURRAY: As it warms up, the garden will change itself all summer long. This is our first year on the Brookland Garden Tour. The first stop on the tour is Island Jim's. The whole interior there is a fabulous garden and beach area with a sand pit and bamboo and beach chairs --

BILL: You can sit there with your rum and your feet in the sand without having to drive to Rehoboth.

MURRAY: -- and it's owned by the people who own Colonel Brooks tavern, where those tragic murders took place. Colonel Brooks is where Brookland got its name. There's a lot of history here.

BILL: Our house was built in 1926.

MURRAY: Commissioned by a chemistry professor at Catholic University. I work from here as a consultant now, and Bill used to work from home when he had his own business. [In library] This was his office, which I converted to a library. It was a surprise for him for his birthday.

BILL: I left for work one morning and it was an empty room. When I came home, it was a library. For years this was where I worked. I had my window, had all my dictionaries close by.

MURRAY [in Murray's office]: Now I work in here. It has thirteen windows. I can see the dome of the Basilica through those trees, I can see the park where the Union defended Washington from the Confederacy.

BILL: And when a thunderstorm comes through we can watch it from up here. The trees blowing like wild. It's really quite amazing.

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