After spending $74,000 and at least two years of hard work, members of the Historic Medley District society recently agreed to sell their masterpiece and labor of love - the completely restored and modernized Old Chiswell Place on Cattail Road in Poolesville.
According to Mary Ann Kephart, president of the historical society, the selling price is $190,000, and settlement will be in January. The house and its seven acres of land are being purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Dill, who now live in Potomac.
Historic Medley District is a non-profit historical society interested in preservation and named for an old voting district in Poolesville.
According to Kephart, proceeds from the sale will be used to pay off construction and acquisition loans and help restore another building. Although the society plans to be "involved" in restoring another building, they have no immediate plans to purchase one, Kephart said.
The unveiling of the restored house came last month at an Old Chiswell Place Open House to which lovers of old homes and prospective buyers were invited.
"The idea of the open house was to let people see what could be done to restore, however fallen into decay, an old house," said Kephart.
Speaking at a brief ceremony during the open house, Frederic Gutheim, professor of American studies at George Washington University, said, "This form of adaptive use and recycling is one of the most appropriate and valuable things we can do. This county needs the housing, but even more, it needs buildings like this that provide depth in time and a model for builders today not to copy in detail, but to use to measure to standard."
Among visitors at the Open House were several members of the Chiswell family. The place, which had been a working farm, came to the family in 1804 when Thomas Fletchall bought it and willed it to his daughter, who married William Chiswell, a planter and attorney. Their son, George, who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, lived in it with his family. Two of his unmarried daughters lived in the house and worked the farm until the 1920s.
"I remember visiting my aunts Betty and Prudence Chiswell here 50 years ago when I was a little girl," said Virginia Thomas, as she stood on the lawn of the old house. "It was a very nice house, but it didn't look as beautiful as it looks now."
"We feel so happy that these people were interested in it and came and restored it and put it on the National Register of Historic Places so that it will be saved for posterity," said her sister, Antoinette Brosius.
"It made us so sad to see it go downhill. It's a wonderful house again now," she added.