“Buck and I would travel around looking at various classical homes, and we stopped at Mount Pleasant or Fairmount Park [in Philadelphia] and saw that house, and we were in awe the first time we saw it, which led to repeated visits,” Mimi said.
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The Williamses visited Mount Pleasant so often that a guard eventually waved them through and told them not to worry about entrance fees.
“It was just fascinating,” Mimi said of Mount Pleasant. “The architecture is so impressive. I think that’s what drew us very much to that house.”
Mimi said an assistant curator at Mount Pleasant generously spent time with her, showing her documents and sketches that informed the design of their house.
Mount Pleasant was built in 1762 along the Schuylkill River by a Scottish ship captain, John Macpherson. The Georgian house was designed by architect Thomas Nevell and, in 1775, was called “the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania” by future president John Adams.
The house was later owned by Benedict Arnold, who bought it before he defected to the British during the Revolutionary War, and by Gen. Jonathan Williams, who became the first superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
After deciding on the type of house they wanted, Buck and Mimi Williams went looking for a place to build it and an architect to design it.
“When we first pulled up to this lot here, it had a little small house on it,” Buck said. “We walked up to the little house and I looked at my wife and I said, ‘This is it.’ I’m from North Carolina, and the property itself just brought me back home.”
Buck said he understands why the street came to be called Fox Meadow Lane. He routinely sees foxes and other wildlife roaming the property.
The couple chose David Jones of D.C.-based Jones & Boer Architects to design the house.
“From Day One, David pretty much captured our vision in a 30-minute conversation we had with him,” Buck said. “David has this brilliant mind. . . . He drove the project from Day One. We have a running joke with David. This is David’s house. He was very persistent in terms of the form and keeping the house in the proper vernacular.”
Although they loved the look of Mount Pleasant, they didn’t want to live in a museum. They wanted a home that would be comfortable for their family, which included their two sons.
“One thing that was on the forefront of our minds was how are we going to create this same house and still live in it in modern times, how do we marry the two — our vision for how we want to live and also keeping all of the wonderful details and all the features of Mount Pleasant,” Mimi said. “That’s where David was definitely instrumental in that.”
Even though he brought modern features — such as geothermal heating and cooling — into the 2002 house, Jones was a stickler for adhering to Georgian design aesthetics. Whenever Mimi suggested an alteration such as perhaps something other than hardwood floors in the entry might be the way to go, Jones strongly discouraged it.
“David was right there,” she said. “ ‘Absolutely not. That’s not happening.’ ”
In the end, the Williamses were happy that Jones insisted on staying true to Georgian design principles. They also expressed a deep admiration for the craftsmen who worked on the home, creating such elegant features as the egg-and-dart molding and fluted pilasters. Buck said he doesn’t feel a need for artwork on the walls because the home itself is a work of art.
“It was a process, a journey, but it was very educational,” said Mimi of building the house. “It was wonderful meeting so many artisans.”
“Every day we wake up in this home is a blessing,” Buck said.
Jay Graham of Moody Graham Landscape Architecture designed the grounds. The three-acre lot includes a heated swimming pool with pool house and a basketball court.
“The setting was just perfect for what we wanted to do,” Buck said. “I think the landscape in the yard complements the architecture.”
The six-bedroom, nine-bathroom, 12,600-square-foot house is listed at just under $6 million.
Listing: 9219 Fox Meadow Lane, Potomac, Md.
Listing agents: Marc Fleisher and Donna Leanos, Compass
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