A new architectural style, International Style, was introduced to America in 1932. Five years later, Samuel Lorin Powell embraced its modern simplicity when he designed his home in Alexandria’s Braddock Heights neighborhood.
Few examples of “this avant-garde and primarily architect-designed style” remain, according to the book, “A Field Guide to American Houses.” “Landmark examples from the 1930s occur principally in fashionable suburbs in the northeastern states and in California.”
Powell, a Utah native, fought as a Marine in World War I and was awarded a Purple Heart in France. After the war, he moved to Washington and became an architect at the National Housing Agency of the Federal Public Housing Authority. Whatever work he did for the government, Powell appeared to have designed only two homes in the area, his and the house next door.
A documentary study of Alexandria prepared by Thunderbird Archeology in 2016 called out his house.
“A few rare examples of vernacular International Style homes exist from this era, including a house at 2800 Farm Road designed in 1937 by Samuel Lorin Powell for himself and a house at 3301 Cameron Mill Road,” the authors wrote.
International Style is characterized by a flat roof, smooth, unornamented surfaces and large window groupings. This house has concrete walls that are between eight and 12 inches thick. The interior has clean lines, plenty of usable space and original parquet floors. The curvilinear stair is sculptural, as well as practical. Natural light moves from room to room throughout the day as window and door placements connect the sun’s rays from morning to evening.
The current owner removed several poorly done remodeling attempts and restored the home to its original state while updating it for today’s living.
Powell and his wife, Edith Wimbish Powell, lived in the home for 14 years. When she died in 1960, he established the Edith Wimbish Powell scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to about 40 Alexandria public school students with financial needs each year. Students are eligible to receive $1,000 per year for up to four years.
“The scholarship was a very special way for Mr. Powell to remember his late wife. And this tribute to Mrs. Powell is positively impacting so many students in Alexandria today by helping them get to college,” Beth Lovain, Scholarship Fund of Alexandria executive director, wrote in an email. “It’s a great testament to Edith Powell and really to the importance that the Powells placed on education, and higher education in particular.”
The four-bedroom, four-bathroom, 3,677-square-foot home is listed at $1.145 million. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
Listing: 2800 Farm Rd., Alexandria, Va.
Listing agent: Jim Crowe, Long & Foster
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