GM couple share a Capitol Hill townhouse, art, and a Weimaraner

by Chord Bezerra
Published on October 9, 2003, 12:00am | Comments

Photography by Todd Franson

Idle hands are the gay man's plaything, and you'll find them all over this 3BR, 2BA three-story townhouse on Capitol Hill, home to a small businessman, a painter, and a friendly-but-storm-averse dog. And in this friendly, diverse neighborhood, you're in good hands.

When Bill Holleman first moved into his Capitol Hill house he thought he had more than enough space. Twenty years later, his household now holds a small business, a prized pooch, and his partner of five years, Brendan Wallace. And while the space may feel a little cozier, that seems to suit everyone just fine.

Bill: I actually rented [this house] for $600 a month for five years before I bought it. I've lived in Washington for thirty years now, always lived on the Hill. This neighborhood has evolved. It's gone from being about 85 percent black when I moved here, to 60 percent white, and back again. Throughout the whole time, it's been very friendly. I like the gay and straight mix, I like the black and white mix.

[In the garden] The painting I had done by a Capitol Hill artist named Bob Tolar. He has done some professional work for me and I asked him one day if he could do something for the garden. He liked this wall a lot, so we came up with the idea of the hands breaking through and lighting the candles. I've always liked hands. They can be very demonstrative of what a person is like, the way you use your hands. I think I have a couple hundred [hand items] total, everything from little molds of babies hands for dolls to 17th-century Italian carved hands from statues. They're all over the place.

[In the living room] The rooms are smaller because of this central core [staircase], but it does still feel big. It helps my claustrophobia. Over the fireplace is a Japanese Tea Ceremony house door. They are intentionally made small and low so you have to be reverent when you walk in -- you have to bow. I love looking at the fireplace and the door over it. That door is a subtle, beautiful, restrained piece of art and it has function too. I like art that has function. That's one reason I like architect-designed furniture so much. A lot of the things that we have in the house are designed by architects because they look good and they work well. I think things should do both.

[In the kitchen] The kitchen is a disaster thanks to the dog. And as long as I have this dog, I probably won't redo it. He's deathly afraid of storms. He tries to get into small spaces when a storm comes, so he's clawed and destroyed the cabinets in here. There's a lock on the refrigerator because the dog can open it. He's very sweet, as most Weimaraners are, but he's very demanding. [Dog barks.] And he knows when he's being talked about.

[In the bedroom] Here's a painting that Brendan did [of me]. The biggest fight we ever had was over that, because I had to pose for it for a long time. I don't mind being nude, but I said to him "The one thing you can't do is embellish the package." So at the first sitting he had sketched everything out and I came around and looked at it and said, "Brendan, what discussion did we just have?" He said, "Lay back down." And I said let's do it another day. He said, "No, lay back down." So I laid back down for two more hours. Sure enough, it was more modest, but the genitals were bright blue. I said, "The size is okay, but I thought we didn't want that to be the focus of the painting." So in the next [version], things came somewhere within the realm of believability.

Brendan and I have been together about five years. He moved in about a year and a half ago and bit by bit has been putting his thumbprint in various places as well. It's funny that my neighbors used to say, "How can you live in that big house by yourself?" I lived in it and filled it very easily, so accommodating another person has been challenging sometimes, but I think we're working out. Fortunately we both have almost identical tastes.

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