The view from Gen. George C. Marshall's bedroom window looks over a muddy dirt patch where his prized vegetable garden used to be, and another spot where his wife's rose garden was kept.
In his office, his lunchbox-size typewriter sits on a desk pushed up against the back wall and centered in front of a window that provides another view of the roughly four acres that surround Dodona Manor.
Anyone looking out that window or sitting at that desk 10 years ago would have been able to see onlyovergrown plants and trees, and would have been inside a house with some structural damage, where the wallpaper had fallen off and most of the furniture had rotted or been badly damaged.
But a four-phase, multimillion-dollar renovation undertaken by the George C. Marshall International Center is taking care of all that, as the group prepares to open the home -- and with it parts of Marshall's seemingly very private, simple life -- to the public this weekend.
"There have been many times when I've said, 'I know you don't want us to do this,' because he was a very modest man," Marshall Center Director Anne Horstman said, referencing a bust of Marshall that sits in her tight office. "We will use this house as a means to showcase a remarkable figure of the 20th century who did remarkable things for the world."
The list of Marshall's government posts and achievements is an impressive one. There's secretary of state, secretary of defense, his authorship of the post-World War II European economic recovery program that became known simply as the Marshall Plan and winner of the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize.
Built in 1786 by one of George Washington's nephews, Dodona Manor is a reminder of a time when Leesburg was the countryside, rather than another suburb 40 miles northwest of Washington.
Its restoration began in 1999 and shows off a fashionable simplicity. Marshall's lightly painted bedroom has little clutter, little furniture and a single bed tucked in the corner along the far wall. The library is filled with a soft yellow couch, a rugged brown reading chair, about 500 original family books and a vintage television with a screen no bigger than a rearview mirror.
Getting the house where Marshall lived from 1941 until his death in 1959 to a point where the public can view it has been a challenge.
"A lot of the furniture was actually in very bad shape," said furniture conservator Ron Sheetz, who has worked on about 35 to 40 pieces for the restoration project. "Veneer lifting, veneer missing, mold, mildew -- you name it."
Along with restoring the collection, other phases of the project were on the interior, exterior and the still-unfinished garden phase, which has been going on for about two months, Horstman said.
Public tours of Dodona Manor are available this Saturday and Sunday and the following two weekends. The mansion will close for the holidays and then be open every weekend starting Jan. 7. For hours, prices and directions, call 703-777-1880 or visit www.georgecmarshall.org.
Marshall's bedroom has been refurnished as it appeared when used. Though the manor fell into disrepair, the house is now ready for public viewing.