Having lived on eight acres, Brad and Karen Gable were ready for a house with a lot less yardwork. They wanted to live in the Old Town Alexandria area and were drawn to historical houses with character, but they were turned off by those with low ceilings, narrow stairs and no garage.

This 2004 single-family house, part of the Liberty Row condominium complex, fulfilled their wishes.

“We came from the country,” Brad said. “We came here, and we said, ‘This house is like our other house, and yet we’re still in Old Town with a two-car garage.’ It was the best of both worlds for us. Plus, with a condominium, it was definitely a benefit because we don’t have to mess around with the outside work.”

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The house’s attachment to a condominium complex is not its only unusual aspect. It once was the registration building for the Old Colony Motor Lodge. The motel, built in 1960, was designed by Charles A. Pearson to imitate buildings in Colonial Williamsburg and at the University of Virginia, according to documents filed with the Alexandria Board of Architectural Review. A brochure from 1963 described the complex as “11 buildings laid out to simulate a colonial estate.” The registration building was modeled after the 1782 Benjamin Waller House in Williamsburg.

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Alexandria house | The house in Alexandria was once the registration building for the Old Colony Motor Lodge. It is listed at just under $3 million. (Joe Muscatello/Houselens)

In 2003, the motor lodge was demolished to make way for the condominiums, but the registration building was preserved. Rockville architect Kenneth Weinstein was hired to transform the building into a single-family house.

“Like with any other large-scale renovation, the main goal in my mind was to maintain as much of the existing structure as possible yet turn it into a dwelling that makes sense for somebody who lives there,” Weinstein said.

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The way the stairs were built dictated some of Weinstein’s design, though he flipped the opening and made them curved. The curved stairs are one of the period touches in the house. Others include decorative crown molding, columns and fanlights. Weinstein worked with the original owner to design a home that reflected its location but also worked for modern living.

“It sort of made sense to maintain [a traditional style] but still honor today’s lifestyle where there’s much visually open space,” he said.

The conversion of the building was so complete that the Gables weren’t aware of its previous use until after they bought the house in 2013.

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“Unless someone were to tell you that, you would never know,” Karen said. “The bones of the house are really beautiful. I just fell in love with the way the house looks.”

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The duality of an urban setting with advantages usually associated with suburban living appealed to the Gables.

“We like the fact that we’re in Old Town but we have a fenced-in area,” Brad said. “I can let my dog out and not worry about it.”

“It’s a very unusual property for Old Town,” Karen added.

The four-bedroom, five-bathroom, 6,900-square-foot house is listed at just under $3 million. The monthly homeowners association dues are $752.

Listing agents: Anne Albright and Denise Kempton, Century 21 Redwood Realty

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