One of the original homes built in the Stratford on Potomac community in Fairfax County has a large, four-level interior that has retained many mid-century-modern features. (Behind Iris/Behind Iris)

Few would suspect that behind the modest front of this brick house is a spacious, airy interior filled with mid-century-modern touches. The 1957 house is one of the original homes built in Stratford on Potomac, a community along the Potomac River in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.

The land once belonged to George Washington. He obtained the title to it in 1760, annexing it to his Mount Vernon estate. River Farm, as it was known, became one of five Mount Vernon farms. A portion of the original River Farm is now the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. Washington never lived on or worked the land. Instead, he rented it. Washington later gave River Farm to his secretary, Tobias Lear, as a wedding present.

Edward Sweeney began development of 69 houses on the land in 1954. After he went bankrupt, Emil Keen took it over and expanded the community.

The first homes in what was then known as Racebrook on Potomac were built between 1955 and 1957. They were designed by Ryder, Struppman & Neumann, an architectural firm from New York, and built by High Point Construction of Alexandria. This home was the Allerton model, the most expensive of the six designs, costing $35,750.

You wouldn’t know it looking at it from the outside, but the house has four levels. Each level is visible the moment you step through the door. Two wood posts flank the entrance. A soaring wood-planked cathedral ceiling draws your eye upward. The wood has been coated with a pale wash that makes it appear raw.

“The cathedral ceiling is the most interesting,” said Deborah Spunaugle, who has lived in the home with her husband, Gary, since 1990. The Spunaugles are thought to be only the second owners. “You just absolutely adore [the house], or you are totally allergic to it.”


The backyard features a flagstone patio. (Behind Iris)

A gas fireplace set in a brick wall that has been painted white warms the living room. The dining room and kitchen are up a few steps to the left. Iron railings with an inset that resembles a necklace guard the dining room and the hallway of the bedroom level.

Straight ahead and down a few steps is the family room, with pecky cypress paneling and Saltillo tile floors. French doors open to a flagstone patio and fenced backyard. The upper level has three bedrooms, including the master suite with an en suite bathroom.

Although the kitchen has been updated with Silestone quartz countertops and new cabinetry, many of the home’s original features remain. Skylights flood the kitchen with natural light.

The most significant change the owners made to the original design was turning the carport into a three-car garage.

The four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 2,140-square-foot house is listed at $725,000.

Listing: 8904 Stratford Lane, Alexandria, Va.

Listing agent: Elvira Jakovac, Douglas Realty

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