First photos in 33 years: inside closed Iranian Embassy in US
Abandoned but never demolished, the Iranian Embassy in Washington DC has been left untouched and perhaps its doors unopened for years. For the time in over three decades, photos taken by Eric Parnes give an inside look at how it appears in present day. A special thanks goes out to Jonathan T. Wilhelm, who wrote the words paired with the photos below.
Most people of my generation probably don't know about the former Iranian Embassy, a majestic building that actually still stands in Washington, DC at 3005 Massachusetts Avenue on Embassy Row. The contemporary artist Eric Parnes recently gained access to the abandoned structure and shared with me his photographs of its interiors, closed since circa 1980 with the fall of the Shah and the events of the Iranian Revolution (as seen in last year's Oscar-winning film ARGO).
The photographs are currently on display at the Ayyam Gallery in Dubai, in the UAE. Built in 1959, the Iranian Embassy in its heyday in the 1960's and 1970's was known to host lavish presidential dinners (from the Kennedys to the Nixons) that attracted political luminaries such as George McGovern, Ted Kennedy and Henry Kissinger; it also was known as an extravagant Washington party thrower. Celebrated guests included Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Liza Minnelli, Barbara Streisand, and Andy Warhol.
The Embassy itself was lavishly decorated with interiors inspired by traditional Persian culture, from its ornate hand-laid mosaics to its grand carpet spreads and mirrored ceilings. Today, Parnes' photographs show that the Embassy building contains only ghosts of what once was.