Heronwood Farm, Robert and Clarice Smith’s 500-acre equestrian estate with golf course in Upperville, Va., is for sale.

Robert H. Smith, who died in 2009, was a real estate developer and philanthropist who created Crystal City in Arlington County and built his family’s company, Charles E. Smith Cos., into the largest commercial property owner in the Washington region.

Clarice Smith is an artist who has had solo exhibitions in galleries in the United States and in London, Paris, Zurich, Jerusalem and Maastricht, in the Netherlands. She received an MFA from George Washington University and was a member of the faculty from 1980 to 1987.

Robert Smith was also known for his lavish donations to his alma mater, the University of Maryland, which named its business school after him in 1998. The school’s performing arts center is named for his wife. GWU’s athletic facility, the Charles E. Smith Center, is named for his father.

Distinguished homes for sale in the D.C. region

shareShare
Heronwood Farm in Upperville, Va. | The estate, previously known as Grafton Farm, has a rich history. Grafton Hall, above, is a Classic Revival-style manor house that was designed by Wood, Donn and Deming. The 500-acre farm is listed at $19.5 million. (LensTrek Photography)

The Smiths bought Heronwood in 1983 to breed thoroughbreds, having developed an interest in racing. The estate, previously known as Grafton Farm, has a rich history. It is the site of the oldest horse show in the country, the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, started by Col. Richard Dulany in 1853. Dulany was also master of fox hounds of the Piedmont Hunt, the oldest recognized hunt in America. His son, R. Hunter Dulany, owned Grafton Farm and passed it to his daughter, who sold the farm to the Smiths.

The Smiths hired John Blackburn and Robbie Smith of Blackburn Architects to design seven of their equine facilities. Heronwood was the first horse barn complex designed by them. The Federal-style barns have fieldstone and stucco exteriors and heavy timber oak framing. They have continuous ridge skylights and vertical ventilation to create a healthy environment for the horses. The facilities include a yearling barn, broodmare barn, three isolation buildings, run-in sheds, an eight-horse mechanical hot walker, an enclosed lunging ring, a riding arena, a regulation-size polo field and 28 fenced paddocks.

“I wanted to do a first-class operation,” Robert Smith told Randy Leffingwell for his book, “Ultimate Horse Barns, “because what I had in mind was to buy, over time, twenty high-class mares and breed them to the best.”

Among the horses Smith bred his mares to at the farm were Nijinsky, Storm Cat, Seattle Slew, Alydar and Mr. Prospector. One colt, Rubiano, went on to win $1.2 million for his new owner after selling for $650,000.

In 1999, the Smiths sold off their horses and bought alpacas.

“After breeding, selling and racing thoroughbreds for 17 years, I found it became too time-consuming, with too much responsibility at a stage of my life that I wanted to modify my activities with other priorities,” Robert Smith told The Washington Post in 2004.

The Smiths developed a passion for golf after trips to Scotland. What started off as a chipping green for practicing shots at home eventually was turned into a 6,500-yard, 18-hole, par-71 course designed by golf architect Brian Ault of Ault, Clark & Associates. The course, built between 2003 and 2008, was designed to U.S. Golf Association standards with four tee boxes per hole. Support buildings for the course include a golf shop, two equipment sheds and a cart barn.

The 7,500-square-foot Classic Revival-style manor house, known as Grafton Hall, was designed by Wood, Donn and Deming. It was rebuilt between 1904 and 1905 after a fire destroyed the original 1883 Queen Anne house.

The property includes three additional houses: a 3,500-square-foot farm manager’s house, a 2,750-square-foot staff house and an 1,800-square-foot stone cottage. Clarice Smith is holding on to Heronwood Estates, the part of the farm that was once owned by the late Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.

Heronwood is permanently protected from further development by an easement through the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The Smiths donated the land where the horse show is held in 2012.

The price has been reduced to $19.5 million, from $24.5 million.

Listing agent: John Coles, Thomas & Talbot Real Estate