Distinguished homes for sale in the D.C. region

Tenleytown house | One of the oldest houses in Washington, the Rest in Tenleytown, has gone on the market for the first time in nearly 50 years. It is listed at $4.8 million. (Wicca Davidson)

One of the oldest houses in Washington, the Rest in Tenleytown, has gone on the market for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Many details surrounding the property — for example, how it got its name — are murky. What is known is that the families who lived there tended to remain for many years.

Sometime in the late 17th century, Charles Calvert, Lord Baltimore, granted thousands of acres — stretching from what is now Tenleytown to what is now part of the Capital Beltway — to a John Courts or Coates or Courtis, a man whose last name was spelled multiple ways. Courts presented some of the land to his granddaughter on her marriage to Charles Jones, who built a large manor house not far from what is today Jones Bridge and Jones Mill roads in Chevy Chase, Md. Jones gave it the whimsical name Clean Drinking Manor.

Jones transferred a portion of the land in what is now Tenleytown to his widowed sister, Sarah Love, around 1800. Love is believed to be the first to live at the house known as the Rest.

No documentation has been found to show when the house was built. However, officials in the D.C. Historic Preservation Office have dated parts of the house — such as the hand-hewn chestnut beams in the basement and the built-in cabinetry in the front room — to the late 1700s, early 1800s. At the center of the circular driveway is a grindstone that is said to have come from Jones’s mill.

According to research done by Tenleytown Historical Society board member Carolyn Long, Love’s niece, Arianna Jones Bruce Lyles, moved into the house in 1835 and remained there until her death at 91 in 1888. Lyles used enslaved labor to run the farm and orchard on the surrounding land. Her granddaughters Arianna Elizabeth Marshall Ward and Eleanor Ann Helen Marshall Magruder, who came to live with her around 1880, inherited the property after her death.

Ward sold her share of the property to developers. Magruder, whose portion would later become the Armesleigh Park neighborhood, sold all but one acre and the house. During her ownership, the house’s tower and porch were added.

Magruder, who was married to George Corbin Washington Magruder, was the mother of Maj. Gen. Bruce Magruder and Brig. Gen. Marshall Magruder, both of whom fought in World War I and World War II. An obituary for Marshall Magruder, published in the 1957 Year Book of the American Clan Gregor Society, described the house: “Gen. Magruder spent his early youth at his mother’s home, ‘The Rest,’ the old Lyles place, which was built about 1780 in what was then called Tenlytown. This home was a virtual museum packed with priceless antiques and possessions of the Magruder, Marshall, Lyles, Washington, Lee, Bruce and Jones families.”

When Eleanor Magruder died in 1906, she left the Rest to her daughter Eleanor, who was called Nannie. Because Nannie was married to an Army officer and lived elsewhere, she rented it to a fire captain named Pinkney Cross. In 1920, Cross bought the house, ending the Lyles-Magruder ownership after more than 100 years.

The Cross family remained in the house until the 1970s. Kip and Susan Willett bought the house in 1974. For a time, Susan Willett ran a nursery school in the guesthouse behind the Rest, which is why so many children’s playthings are in the yard.

The Willetts added their own touches to the property. An antique door from China adorns the exterior, and the front door is hand-carved mahogany from the Philippines.

Because of the house’s elevation, it is possible to see the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol from the tower.

The gated property includes a five-bedroom, four-bathroom, 5,020-square-foot main house, a guesthouse with a kitchen and bathroom, and a gazebo.

The Rest, which was added to the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites in 1964, is listed at $4.8 million. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

Listing agent: Wicca Davidson, Long & Foster