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Where We Live

Lafayette slept here in 1824. Now for $6.8 million you can, too.

August 19, 2016 at 5:30 AM

(Photo by Bob Narod) Marquis de Lafayette stayed in this room during his visit to Alexandria in 1824.

Homes with histories like the Lafayette house in Old Town Alexandria usually wind up as museums. This stately Federal dwelling is one of the few that remains a private residence.

The house was built between 1815 and 1817 by Thomas Lawrason, a son of a prominent Alexandria merchant. Although Lawrason died before the home was completed, his wife, Elizabeth, and their five children lived there for many years.

When the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette visited Alexandria in 1824, the city council asked Elizabeth Lawrason if she would lend the general her home because it was deemed the most elegant in the city. She graciously moved out of the house while he stayed there. The bedroom he used now bears a plaque on its door that reads "This is the bedroom occupied by the Marquis de Lafayette October 1824 during his last visit to America." A plaque commemorating the visit is also displayed on the house.

Related: [Where We Live: Old Town Alexandria is historic but lively]

From 1828 to 1830, Thomas, Third Lord Fairfax leased the house from Lawrason before purchasing a house on Cameron Street. Nelly Custis Lewis, Martha Washington's granddaughter, rented the home in 1831. William C. Gardner, a wealthy merchant from Newport, R.I., leased the home before purchasing it in 1835.

18599 Calumet Lane, Bluemont, Va Monte Subasio
The entry door is a replica of the one at the Morrison House hotel in Alexandria.
The entry hall features an antique brass lantern, heart pine floors and cherry wood spindles on the bannister.
The formal living room has a wood-burning fireplace.
The dining room has a brass chandelier, brass sconces and a fireplace with a marble surround.
The kitchen has Calacatta grey marble countertops and backsplash, gray soapstone countertops on the island and porcelain flooring.
French doors in the library open to the rear terrace.
The master bedroom on main level has a sitting room.
The master suite also has a private conservatory.
Rather than a kitchenette or a wet bar, the sellers installed an ice cream parlor on the lower level.
The chapel is an ideal spot for quiet reflection.
The indoor lap pool is connected to the house.
The stables are shown.
Mature English gardens, a knot garden, topiaries, majestic mountains, a tranquil pond, walking paths and riding trails add to the surroundings.
The 1956 midcentury modern house was designed by renowned Cleveland architect Robert P. Madison. It is listed at $875,000.
The home has had only one owner. Jack Edward White was a surgery professor, oncology department chairman and cancer research center director at Howard University.
The living room has a sloping ceiling and large panes of glass allow an abundance of natural light.
One of the more unusual features of the home is a wall separating the living room from the dining room. The wood paneling bows in slightly, adding curves in a room filled with asymmetrical lines and angles.
Sliding-glass doors in the living room lead to a covered deck.
The dining room overlooks the living room.
The 3,672-square-foot house spreads out over several levels.
The kitchen and bathrooms have been updated recently, but much of the home retains its midcentury look.
White and his wife, Sara, raised five children in the home, and she continued to live in it until last year.
The house has five bedrooms and three bathrooms.
The lower level has a large rec room with a fireplace.
The backyard is shown.
The 2001 stone-and-stucco house in the Old Georgetown Estates neighborhood of North Bethesda is listed at $2.3 million.
Arched stone columns guard the entrance.
The interior is a melange of textures.
Rough-hewed beams soar across the vaulted ceiling in the living and dining room.
A rugged stone wall separates the sunroom from the main living and dining area.
A wet bar is tucked at one end of the sunroom.
The kitchen has concrete countertops.
A breakfast area is just off the kitchen.
The butler's pantryhas a copper farm sink.
High ceilings create an airiness to the rooms. Tall baseboards ground the stucco walls.
The paneling in the office, which looks like petrified wood, is reclaimed from a barn in Pennsylvania.
The master bedroom is on the main level.
The lower level has a wet bar made from rough-sawn cedar.
Two adjacent lots, 0.65 and 0.74 acres, are also available.
Tom Clancy’s estate on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Huntingtown, Md., is on the market for $6.2 million.
The land was once a popular children’s summer camp known as Camp Kaufmann.
Clancy purchased the 537 acres in two transactions for a combined $1.45 million in the late 1980s, according to property records.
Clancy turned the property into a retreat that was said to resemble the fictional estate belonging to Jack Ryan, one of the characters in his books.
The seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom, 17,178-square-foot house has multiple living and entertaining areas.
Clancy’s office has a wood ceiling, walls of bookshelves and views of the water.
Tom Clancy's writing desk is made of petrified wood.
Called Peregrine Cliff, the estate has an underground gun range, tennis courts, a basketball court, an indoor pool with a retractable roof, a two-story entertainment pavilion, a three-bedroom guesthouse and one mile of waterfront.
The main house has multiple decks.
The entertainment pavilion is one of the outbuildings.
The guesthouse has three bedrooms.
The estate is along the cliffs near Plum Point. It consists of 11 deeded lots, which may be subdivided.
The 1907 Edwardian manor known as Elway Hall near Warrenton, Va., was built by a former U.S. senator for his daughter as a wedding present. It is listed at $10.5 million.
The house has been home to Barry Dixon, one of Washington’s most sought-after interior designers.
With its 14-foot ceilings, 17 fireplaces, 10 bedrooms, a ballroom and a dining room that can seat 30 for a hunt breakfast, Elway Hall resembles an English country manor.
Its generously proportioned rooms are ideal for intimate gatherings with family members and friends, as well as large galas for hundreds of guests.
Annie Camden Spilman is immortalized in the Tiffany window above the stately carved oak staircase.
Dixon bought Elway Hall in 1999, just after it had undergone a million-dollar renovation.
Dixon altered Elway Hall very little. He updated the kitchen, seen above.
The 271-acre property includes a barn, silo, swimming pool, an orchard, and vegetable and flower gardens.
The exterior of the brick barn is shown.
The barn has a second-floor entertaining space.
The 2005 home in Annapolis’s Amberley neighborhood is a replica of the circa 1750 Robert Nicolson House in Williamsburg. It is listed at $2.1 million.
The house has nine-foot ceilings and oversize windows.
It also has wainscoting and arched doorways.
The home has all the character of a historic house and all the modern conveniences of a newly built one.
The plans for the house came from William E. Poole’s Williamsburg Historical Collection portfolio, a company that has been licensed by the Historic Foundation of Colonial Williamsburg to replicate the city’s historic homes.
A large brick fireplace warms the sitting area next to the kitchen.
The main level master suite overlooks the water.
The library on the upper level has crown molding, heart pine floors and built-in bookcases.
The upper level bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms.
There are six bedrooms.
The property includes 126 feet of waterfront along Whitehall Creek, an eight-foot pier and a saltwater swimming pool.
The 1913 stone Colonial in Chevy Chase, Md., is listed at $2.9 million.
The home underwent a major renovation in 2003.
A stone fireplace anchors the living room.
High ceilings such as those in the dining room create an open, airy feel.
The kitchen features a large island with seating.
A sitting room off the dining room has built-in shelving.
The 1913 stone house was built by S. Clark Ross, who likely used it as a summer home.
One of the clever touches in the home is a bookshelf in the basement that comes out of the wall, revealing a secret storage place for Christmas presents.
Because the house is in the Chevy Chase Historic District, renovations to the exterior and interior might be eligible for state and county tax credits.
The backyard includes a children’s playhouse and a detached two-car garage.
Herman Hollerith’s former home in Georgetown is on the market for $19 million.
Hollerith spared no expense building his 1911 Georgetown manse. He hired architect Frederic B. Pyle to design it and noted builder George A. Fuller Co. to construct it.
The four-story Georgian brick house remained in the Hollerith family for nearly 80 years.
Interior designers Todd Davis and Robert Brown, who are best known for decorating Bill and Hillary Clinton’s post-White House home, completely refurbished the house after they bought it in 1996.
The current owners bought the house in 2005 and spent millions restoring and renovating it, according to a Wall Street Journal article.
They hired David Jones Architects to turn the glass greenhouse into a conservatory and breakfast room.
The owners refurbished the home’s original intercom system and elevator.
The master suite has a Juliet balcony overlooking the gardens and two walk-in closets.
The house has two master bathrooms.
Hollerith House’s rear facade is shown.
The 0.61-acre lot includes specimen trees planted by Hollerith’s wife, Lucia, who was co-founder of the Georgetown Garden Club.
The 1937 Colonial Revival in Annapolis, Md., that overlooks Weems Creek is listed at $4.5 million.
The house was built by Philip H. Ross, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who went on to have a decorated Naval career.
Since it was built, the original house has been expanded by subsequent owners.
The current owners commissioned Annapolis artist Sam Robinson to paint a sepia-toned mural of the Severn River on the dining room walls.
One of the new wings includes the family room and kitchen.
The kitchen has an island, two sinks and a pantry.
Washington designer Skip Sroka updated the wood-paneled library.
The screened porch has two seating areas, black-and-white striped awnings and a painted brick floor.
The master suite was expanded to include a large bathroom and a closet with its own washer and dryer. A fireplace warms the bedroom. Sliding glass doors open to a private balcony.
The wine cellar can hold 800 bottles.
The property includes 250 feet of waterfront.
A long, wooden stairway leads from the expansive lawn behind the house to a pebble and oyster shell beach. Two deep-water piers with a 12-foot depth can accommodate a sailboat or powerboat.
The condo in the Argyle House at 2201 Massachusetts Ave. NW is listed at $859,000.
The two-bedroom unit is in a 1901 mansion designed by Paul J. Pelz that was converted into condos in the 1980s.
The seller, a former commerical artist, trained her artistic eye on the hand-painted floors, stained pine millwork, crown moldings, tin embellished ceilings and ornate corbels to give the home an Old World feel.
The dining room’s intricately designed leaded glass windows overlook Olga Hirshhorn’s famous “Mouse House.”
The kitchen features quartz countertops and white shaker cabinets.
The master bedroom’s walls are painted so as to evoke Rapunzel’s tower.
The master bathroom is shown.
The second bedroom is shown.
The 1939 Federal-style house in Georgetown has had only three owners. It is listed at $2.8 million.
The mantel over the fireplace in the living room is said to come from the Willard Hotel.
The chandelier in the dining room is believed to be original to the home.
The kitchen was updated by the second owner.
French doors in the family room lead to the courtyard.
A terrace off the master bedroom overlooks the courtyard.
The top floor bedroom has a murphy bed.
The current owners added the courtyard with a fountain.
The courtyard leads to the garage and art studio.
The courtyard is seen from the master bedroom terrace.
The two-car garage has climate-controlled storage above it.
Photo Gallery: The Washington Post?s picks of distinguished homes on the D.C.-area market.

Williams Cazenove, a two-term member of the Virginia House of Delegates and a captain in the Confederate quartermaster's department, bought the home in 1854 and remained there until his death in 1877. Charles Calvert Smoot, a prominent Alexandria merchant, and his heirs lived in the home the longest, from 1883 to 1947.

The house suffered from neglect by the time Nathan N. Wallack and his wife Edith purchased it. They restored the home, replacing Victorian embellishments with period pieces. They also modernized the house, adding heating and ventilation. The Alexandria Association presented them with an award of merit for the restoration.

Related: [Inside D.C.-area’s most expensive homes for sale]

Although faithful in their restoration, the Wallacks apparently couldn't help but leave their own mark on the house. The story goes that Edith, using her diamond ring, carved "Nat and Edith Wallack Oct 1947" into a glass window in the Lafayette room. If you look closely, you can still see the etching.

Thurman Arnold, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge and founding partner of the law firm Arnold & Porter, owned the home from 1960 until his death in 1969. His widow sold the house in 1973 to Howard W. Smith Jr., a former commonwealth's attorney. The current owners purchased the home in 1986.

(Photo by Bob Narod) The detail in the wainscoting and crown molding in the front and back parlors is exquisite.

The ornate entrance to the home, with its elliptical limestone archway, peacock-like lunette and marble steps, hints at the architectural delights to come.

The grand entrance hall, which measures 42 feet long and 10 feet wide with 12-foot ceilings, features a Zuber mural of Lafayette watching West Point cadets pass in review and a floating staircase that spirals three stories high. The seamless curved door at the end of the hall is believed to be original to the home.

The detail in the wainscoting and crown molding in the front and back parlors is exquisite. The fireplace mantels are believed to be reclaimed from the Jonah Thompson house nearby. The shutters in the front parlor appear to have their original sterling silver latches. Ten-foot pocket doors bisect the parlors.

(Photo by Bob Narod) The brick-walled courtyard with a gazebo and pond was designed by well-known landscape architect John Magruder.

The house is remarkably symmetrical. The front and back parlors are the same size, which are the same size as the master bedroom and Lafayette room above them, and the two bedrooms above them. Each of the 12 rooms in the home has a fireplace, save one.

The more than 2,000-square-foot basement has tall brick arches and a brick floor.

The brick-walled courtyard with a gazebo and pond was designed by well-known landscape architect John Magruder. The property has parking for three cars.

The three-story brick house is listed at $6.8 million.

Listing: 301 S. St. Asaph St., Alexandria, Va.

Listing agent: Kate Patterson, McEnearney Asociates

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Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market. Previously, she wrote for the Sports section. She came to The Washington Post in 1996 from the Los Angeles Daily News. She also worked at the Cincinnati Post.

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