In 1669, John Alexander bought 6,000 acres along the Potomac River for 6,000 pounds of tobacco and the cask that held it. Part of that land later became Alexandria. Although neither John nor his sons or grand­children lived on the land, Charles Alexander, a sixth-generation descendant of John, built a home on the uplands overlooking the Potomac River valley.

Named after the highest point on the Greek island of Crete, Mount Ida was constructed sometime between 1800 and 1808.

It began as a two-story brick residence before being expanded and embellished over the years. The house is the only still-standing Alexander family home from that period.


(Photo by Taylor Dabney) The parlor was used as a chapel when the Sisters of the Holy Cross converted the home into a convent.

In 1942, an order of Roman Catholic nuns bought Mount Ida. The Sisters of the Holy Cross renovated and enlarged the home, turning it into a convent. They used the front parlor as their chapel.

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Mount Ida became a ­single-family home again in 1992, when Paul and Diane Mahefky bought it. Their renovations to the home were featured in Betsy Wells Edwards’s book, “Virginia Country: Inside the Private Historic Homes of the Old Dominion.”

With almost every owner putting an imprint on it, Mount Ida has undergone massive structural changes. Rooms were added across the front of the house. The facade was made grander by adding Ionic columns and a stately stone-and-brick staircase that leads to sweeping porches. A family room was joined to the home in 1985.


(Photo by Taylor Dabney) Ionic columns guard the front porch.

Inside the house, architectural changes have incorporated classical features, such as arched doorways, plaster friezes and Beaux-Arts paneling and moldings.

After entering the foyer, French doors lead to formal living and dining rooms.

The library dates from the construction of the home. Its frieze and fireplace mantel are thought to be original.

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The kitchen has been modernized with granite countertops and an island.

Outdoors, a latticed arbor covers a brick patio, creating an elegant entertaining space.

The 6,000-square-foot home is listed at $2.995 million.

Listing: 305 Charles Alexander Ct., Alexandria Va.

Listing agent: Maria Smith, Arlington Realty

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