In the midst of chaos, there is a need for sanctuary, a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Linda Fuselier has created such a place at her Old Town Alexandria home.
“We come from frenetic lives,” her husband, Christopher Ogden, said. “I think what Linda built here and what I love . . . [is] it’s a refuge, the calmness of the whole property.”
Fuselier bought the Georgian house in 1995 and gutted it. The home was built in 1842 by Robert Brockett. He was the grandson of a Scotsman who settled in Alexandria as a real estate investor. The grandfather acquired several lots around Washington and Queen streets that became known as Brockett’s Row.
Brockett, who lived at 603 Queen St., bought the adjacent lot to expand his boarding and day school for boys, the Alexandria Classical Academy (not to be confused with the Alexandria Academy, once the Washington Free School). Students came from Maryland, North Carolina, the District and Ireland. Private schools were common in Virginia at that time. A mandated statewide public school system did not exist in the commonwealth until five years after the Civil War ended.
The school closed in 1860 and the property was sold in 1868 to pay off Brockett’s debts. It was then rented out to predominantly well-educated tenants such as teachers, bookkeepers and lawyers.
By the time Fuselier acquired it, the house had been through various renovations and was a rabbit warren of rooms. With the help of D.C. designer David H. Mitchell, architect Thomas Manion and builder Harry Braswell, she transformed the home into a serene haven that is cozy yet generously sized.
“One of the things I like is the size and proportion of the rooms,” Fuselier said.
To fully appreciate the home, it helps to notice the details. In many houses, the foyer is a mere way station between the outside and the inside. You could, in fact, pass through this one without giving it a second glance. But it’s worth a closer examination to notice the tasteful mosaic in Italian Travertine tile on the floor, the hand-stenciled walls and the rustic lantern from a barn in Connecticut, which keeps the look from feeling precious, before passing through the French doors that lead to the central hall.
The home is airy and light thanks to enormous 16-over-16 sash windows. Noise from the street is muted by upholstered walls. The pale blue ceiling hints at Fuselier’s Southern roots. Limestone from France adorns the fireplace mantel.
Fuselier, an avid cook, can often be found in the bright, cheery kitchen. The tile artist Rebecca Cross created the Italian-inspired backsplash.
“I love the kitchen because it’s very homey,” Fuselier said. “It’s functional and efficient. It’s a room where people linger.”
The master bathroom might be the most sumptuous room in the house. The centerpiece is a metal soaking tub on a marble pedestal. Why metal? It retains heat better, allowing for longer soaks.
A few years ago, Fuselier and Ogden purchased the carriage house behind them, reuniting the two properties. The carriage house was turned into a writer’s retreat and a two-car garage. In the hands of landscape architect Joan Honeyman, the courtyard in between became a peaceful oasis with the restful sound of water flowing through the copper scuppers into the stone pond.
The four-bedroom, four-bathroom, 5,600-square-foot house and carriage house are listed at $3.5 million.
Listing: 601 Queen St., Alexandria, Va.
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