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Byline: Alan Judd ; WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON -- When Rhea Chiles came across the old townhouse on Capitol Hill in 1971, its floors were rotten, steps were missing from the staircase, and vagrants slept in the basement.
Chiles loved it.
In the decrepit 80-year-old house, behind the U.S. Supreme Court building and a block from the Capitol, Chiles envisioned a place where people from her home state could rest over cookies and orange juice while visiting Washington, where they could learn a little about how the federal government worked and where they could find a touch of home in a city far away. She envisioned an embassy for Florida. She envisioned …