On a property that was once a horse farm owned by relatives of President William Howard Taft in Lorton, an eight-house development is taking shape. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

A winter field spreading across the 14-acre Indian Springs Farm community in Lorton, Va., 24 miles southeast of the District in southern Fairfax County, was flecked with snow on a recent January morning. Bare-branched trees and evergreen conifers swayed gently in the bitter cold air. Birds flitted overhead.

This will be the site of eight luxurious estate houses. The road into the development, Julia Taft Way, is paved and the land is roughly sectioned into lots of at least one acre. Numbered signposts mark homesites. One completed home, a furnished model, is available for walk-through. Construction of the other houses hasn’t started. No contracts have been sold yet.

The property was once a horse farm owned by relatives of President William Howard Taft. The original farmhouse, an imposing white structure about 100 years old, sits on 3.65 acres and is one of the eight homesites for sale. That site can be purchased and the house renovated or razed and replaced with one of the models offered by Christopher Companies, the builder of Indian Springs Farm.

Christopher Companies bought the property a few years ago. Founded in 1974 by Fred Kober, who is now chairman emeritus, it’s a small, local and privately owned company that builds homes in Arlington, Reston, Fairfax as well as Prince William, Caroline and Loudoun counties in Northern Virginia. It also builds in Charlottesville in Albemarle County, Va., and Sussex County in Delaware. The two owners, John Regan and Craig Havenner, live within five miles of the company’s main office in Oakton, Va. Many employees have been with the company for more than a dozen years.

“People can pick the lot of their choice. We encourage visitors to walk the property or drive around and select the site that most personally appeals to them. Then they pick the house model they want,” said Regan.

Six models are offered — McKinley, Jackson, Devereaux, Roosevelt, Hamner and Walton — plus an array of interior and exterior options. “We’ll modify each home to suit the buyer, so we’re really building custom houses, and as a result each family gets exactly what they want,” Regan said.

A bathroom for every bedroom: The McKinley model is the upper-end product in the community. It’s spacious with natural light pouring in through large windows and features many rooms that can be used in diverse ways by residents of various age. The hardwood floors are finished in place, which is considered old school and adds two weeks to the construction cycle, but is considered to be superior in quality and appearance.

Children can play in their bedrooms or on the floor in the family room off the kitchen and they can huddle in the mudroom when they drop their knapsacks after school. Entry into the mudroom is either from the garage or the secondary house door at the house front.

Adults can congregate around the extra-large kitchen island with a drink in hand or sit around the dining room table as they wait for dinner to be served. There’s a nice window over the primary kitchen sink and a secondary smaller sink on a corner of the island. A large corner pantry closet is stocked with built-in shelves. Cabinets are fitted with slow-close doors and drawers with dovetail joints.


There’s a nice window over the primary kitchen sink and a secondary smaller sink on a corner of the island. A large corner pantry closet is stocked with built-in shelves. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

In the warmer months, people can hang out on the front porch, and in the winter, they can cluster around the gas fireplace in the family room.

All bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms, which teens especially will relish, and the master bedroom, which is entered via a double door, has two walk-in closets, a big linen closet and an extension that can be used as sitting room or office. In addition to two vanities across from each other in the master bathroom, there’s a stand-alone tub, makeup vanity dresser table and stool and toilet in a separate room.

Hiking, horseback riding: Lorton brims with outdoor recreation sites that can enthrall a family. Mason Neck Peninsula is a 9,000-acre natural resources locale along the Potomac River that includes beautiful parklands. Mason Neck State Park attracts herons, bald eagles, whistling swans and many duck species, and there are oak, hickory and holly forests.

Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area offers 13 miles of hiking, horseback and mountain bike trails, fishing ponds, 800 acres of forest and environmental education programs. Pohick Bay Regional Park offers trails, mini golf, amphitheater and boat launch.

Shopping: At the Shoppes of Lorton Valley at 8971 Ox Rd. are Giant Food, Starbucks, a bank plus pizza and frozen yogurt eateries. At Lorton Market Place at 9409 Lorton Market St. is a Shoppers Food Warehouse. At 9000 Lorton Station Blvd. is a Great Harvest Bread Company. Virginia Route 1 is commercial corridor with many retail outlets.


In addition to two vanities across from each other in the master bathroom, there’s a stand-alone tub, makeup vanity dresser table and stool and toilet in a separate room. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

Schools: Gunston Elementary, South County Middle, South County High.

Transit: Lorton Station is the departure point for the Auto Train to Florida. It’s also served by Virginia Railway Express (VRE) stopping at Union Station in the District, where passengers can pick up the Red line on Metro. The community is close to Interstate 95 and Virginia Route 1.

Indian Springs Farm

7770 Julia Taft Way, Lorton, Va.

The single-family houses are priced from $989,9000 to $1,275,000. Currently, there’s an incentive offering a finished recreation room and full bath in the lower level.

Builder: Christopher Companies

Features: The entry walkway and front stoop are brick or flagstone. Exterior walls are two-by-six inches with high-density insulation. The house is Energy Star certified and National Green Building Standard silver certified. The HVAC system is three-zoned; variable-speed heat pumps are installed on upper and lower levels; programmable thermostats are on all three levels; and there’s a security system with motion detector, sensors and keypad. In the kitchen is a farmhouse or double-bowl sink, breakfast corner, gourmet GE Café Series stainless-steel appliances and LED lighting. Walk-in closets are fitted with wooden rods and shelves.

Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4 to 6/4 to 6

Square footage: 3,250 to 8,136

Homeowners association fee: $140 per month

View model: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Contacts: Shelly Kalmus at 571-512-2195 or Brian Brandt at 703-864-1757 or www.christophercompanies.com/communities/indian-springs .