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Roger Mudd’s McLean estate is for sale for $8 million

The veteran newsman lived in the house for nearly 50 years

The 1905 farmhouse on six acres in McLean, Va., is known as Elmwood. it was the longtime home of veteran newsman Roger Mudd. (HD Bros)
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The longtime home of veteran newsman Roger Mudd, who died last year at age 93, is for sale for just under $8 million. The 1905 farmhouse, on six acres in McLean, Va., is known as Elmwood.

The property was part of a working farm and family estate beginning in the early 18th century. Spencer Mottrom Ball, who was related to George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, received 300 acres of his father’s estate, Woodberry, in 1853 and built the original house known as Elmwood. The Balls were enslavers and strong supporters of the Confederacy.

When the Civil War broke out, the Balls abandoned Elmwood. According to newspaper reports, federal troops vandalized the house, stealing and sometimes selling off its contents. The piano was sold for $2. The family Bible was taken by Pvt. John H. Douglass. (Twenty-two years later, Douglass returned the Bible to the family.) Union troops built a signal station on the property.

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Elmwood | The 1905 farmhouse on six acres in McLean, Va., is known as Elmwood. It was the longtime home of veteran newsman Roger Mudd. It is listed at $8 million. (HD Bros)

After the war, Spencer’s son William Selwyn “Selly” Ball returned to the family estate and found the house destroyed. “The house had been pulled down and its fine timbers used for other purposes,” he wrote. Needing a place to live, he built a log cabin and named it Bachelor’s Hall in 1876. Three years later, he built a second log cabin. After selling a right of way across his land to the Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad, Selly used the money to build a second Elmwood in 1905.

After Selly died in 1932, the property went to his nephew James M. Ball. James sold off part of the estate to a developer who built Elmwood Estates. The house had two additional owners, and one of them added a family room onto the kitchen before Roger Mudd and his wife, Emma Jeanne “E.J.” Mudd, purchased it in 1972.

Roger Mudd spent three decades delivering the news and hosting documentaries for CBS, NBC, PBS and the History Channel, winning several Emmy Awards. He is perhaps best remembered for the 1979 interview with then-Sen. Edward M. Kennedy that derailed the Massachusetts Democrat’s presidential prospects. Mudd was the anchor on NBC’s “Meet the Press” from 1984 to 1985.

E.J. Mudd, who married Roger in 1956, served in the U.S. Foreign Service in Rome and was an extra in the Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck film “Roman Holiday.” She wrote poetry, short stories and travel articles that were published in a variety of publications. She died in 2011.

In 1976, the Mudds moved one of the log cabins Selly Ball built and attached it to the main house. They extended the living room in 1986.

The six-bedroom, five-bathroom, 5,600-square-foot house and the surrounding outbuildings — a well house, a barn and a log cabin — were an enjoyable place for the Mudds and their four children to live, according to a 1988 Washington Post story. The family also liked to entertain and hosted several events there.

In 1979, the Mudds held a barn dance with a country music band. They were fined $33 for violating the Fairfax County noise ordinance. Writer Eudora Welty spent the night in a guest bedroom upstairs after a literary dinner at Elmwood. At breakfast the next morning, she told the Mudds how wonderful it was to wake up and look through “those fine linen curtains.” According to E.J. Mudd, the curtains were hanging in the dining room when the Mudds bought the house. She took them down, cut off the frayed edges and repurposed them for the guest bedroom.

“To have Welty appreciate them with her fine writer’s eye was thrilling,” she told Washington Post writer Prudence Squier.

7167 Old Dominion Dr., McLean, Va.

Price: $8 million

Bedrooms/bathrooms: 6/5

Approximate square-footage: 5,600

Lot size: Six acres

Features: Roger Mudd, the veteran newsman, lived in the house for nearly 50 years. The original Elmwood was destroyed during the Civil War. It was rebuilt in 1905 and added to several times. The house has wraparound porches. The property has a 700-foot driveway, a well house, a barn, a log cabin, mature trees and azaleas.

Listing agents: Mark McFadden and Hunter McFadden, Compass