The Washington Post

House of the Week | Cold War intrigue surrounds Manassas home

Tucked on a quiet street and surrounded by high walls and security gates, this Manassas home would have been an ideal place to stash Cold War spies.

Whether the CIA once housed Soviet defectors here — no one official is saying — many in the lakeside community suspected it was a safe house in the 1960s and ’70s.

Spies may not have been the only ones to visit this retreat on Lake Jackson, according to research done by real estate agent Dwayne Moyers of Long & Foster. He and his wife, Maryanne Moyers, are the listing agents. Some say former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her brother-in-law, former U.S. attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, also were guests.

Victor Purse and his first wife, Alice, bought a log cabin on Lake Jackson in 1959 and turned it into a sprawling lakefront compound. Purse named it Alvictus after he and his wife: AL-ice, VICT-or, US.

Purse liked to live large and wasn’t shy of the spotlight. As the State Department deputy chief of protocol from 1954 to ’57, he was friendly with Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and King Saud bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia. Alice was given an Oldsmobile convertible by the king. The queen sent Victor a set of china as a wedding gift after he married his second wife.

In keeping with Purse’s extravagant lifestyle, everything at Alvictus is done on a grand scale and suited to lavish entertaining. The 18-foot wall of windows in the great room frames the lake. Outdoor terraces on multiple levels overlook the water. The swimming pool is 13 feet deep because Purse wanted it to rest on bedrock. He recovered a five-ton water wheel from the Piney Branch Mill and had it installed on one of the terraces. Purse had planned to build a helicopter pad in the front yard, but it never came to fruition.

Purse, who died in 1994, sold Alvictus in 1983 after moving to Florida. Subsequent owners have expanded and modified the home, but it retains Purse’s imprint.

The three-bedroom, five-bathroom home has a koi pond, 150 feet of waterfront, a boat dock, a two-car detached garage and a sunroom. It is listed at $749,000.

Listing: 11625 Purse Dr., Manassas

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Twitter: @KathyOrtonWP, @PostRealEstate

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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.
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