Editors' pick

Pope-Leighey House

Historic Site
Pope-Leighey House photo
Courtesy of Woodlawn

Editorial Review

Underwhelming. That might be the first word that comes to mind as you approach the small, weathered house tucked into the woods of Alexandria. But it probably won't be the one you walk away with.

The only Frank Lloyd Wright house open to the public in the area, the 1940s-era Usonian-style Pope-Leighey House is considered one of the finest examples of the famed architect's small homes. Two bedrooms, 1,200 square feet and an original price tag of $7,000. You could walk the length of the thing in 10 seconds, but that won't happen under the tutelage of the home's devoted guides.

Most days, you're as likely as not to have the privilege of a private tour, which means lots of time for questions about the heated floor, geometric window designs, minimalist furnishings and the woman who slept in the master bedroom until she was 83 -- even after the construction of Interstate 66 forced a move from its original location in Falls Church. If you've never seen a Frank Lloyd Wright house, you'll be happy for the enthused introduction, while groupies will love having the unhurried elbow room to really inspect the home's masterful details.

Tip: The Pope-Leighey House is adjacent to Woodlawn, a Federal-era mansion George Washington gave to his nephew as a wedding present in 1799. So if you're feeling ambitious, make it a day of historical architecture. Also, Wright's serious fans should plan their visit for the first Sunday of each month, when in-depth tours of the structure are given.

-- Ellen McCarthy (January 25, 2008)