Today’s home in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia had a role in the early history of the country. When President James Madison invited General Lafayette to return to America for a triumphal tour of this country in his honor circa 1816, this home was selected as the place for Marquis de Lafayette to stay.
The Lafayette House is known for its outstanding architectural details, which include the breathtaking entrance hall, forty two feet long, ten feet wide with twelve foot ceilings. The front hall is adorned with a hand blocked French mural of General Lafayette reviewing the troops at West Point on the north wall. The arch in this hallway is spectacular as is the three-story graciously curved suspended staircase at the far end with its curved doors in the lower hall and on the staircase which are reminiscent of Latrobe and Bullfinch.
The double front parlors are grandly proportioned and are graced with six over six original windows, ten foot tall original pocket doors as well as doors opening into the entry hall with painted wood graining, which is believed to be original.
Particular attention should be drawn to the fireplace mantels in these two front parlors. Both are 18th century Adam style mantels, which replaced the earlier mantels in a 20th century restoration. The mantel in the front parlor is believed to have come from the Jonah Thompson house in the 200 block of South Fairfax Street and depicts Pomona, the Goddess of fruit trees, while the mantel in the back parlor depicts what is known locally as the fabled “Kiss.” Particularly interesting in these formal rooms is the rose and vine decorations under the windows and the large embrasured windows with folding, paneled shutters and original silver hardware. The gold leaf treatment in the entry hall and both parlors is similar to that in the Valentine Museum in Richmond and at Mount Vernon.
While basements of historic houses are often overlooked as simply additional storage spaces, this is not the case at Lafayette House. The basement here is over two thousand square feet, with most unusual brick arches, coal doors and possibly an early kitchen, as well as a brick floor throughout that is thought to be original. The basement has full ceiling height and could be completed as a billiards room, reading room, or wine cellar.
Outside there is a private garden designed by Magruder, with brick patios, a Gazebo, antique boxwoods, a pond and access to the parking in both the front and the rear of the house. This property is listed for $5.485 million by McEnearney & Associates and is showcased by Luxury Portfolio.
Deidre Woollard served as the lead editor on Luxist.com for six years writing about real estate, auctions, jewelry and luxury goods. Her love for luxury real estate led her to work at realtor.com and two of the top real estate brokerages in Los Angeles as well as doing publicity for properties around the world.