Historic Old Town Alexandria is choc full of houses, churches, and other interesting historic structures. Hundreds of homes pack the tree lined blocks of our densely populated D.C. urban suburb, each one unique in its own right. For this very reason, walking the streets of Old Town just to admire the stunning homes (that we could never afford) is one of our favorite hobbies. 

Though the houses of old town vary in size, age, construction, and style, they can all be categorized in one manner or another to relate one to the next. Today, in what is sure to become a recurring post feature on our blog, we'd love to share a few of the homes we like to gaze at each time we walk by them. 

In no way are these homes meant as a definitive list of the finest Old Town has to offer, or is it a list based purely on age, size, or history, but rather our subjective list of places we are frequently in awe of. The homes featured here are significant, grand, stunning, particularly old, absolutely tiny, or just plain awesome. We feel each of these homes, given their various characteristics, can be categorized as some of the most spectacular in the area. So without further adieu, this is our first installment of The Great Homes of Old Town Alexandria.

711 Prince Street

The first home in our list is actually a home that I simply can't get over. Every time I look at it, no matter if it is in the heat of summer, a snow covered winter day, the first buds of spring, or in the middle of a colorful fall morning, this home never ceases to amaze.

Built around 1800 and enlarged several times over the years after being purchased in 1811 by William Fowle, this grand house in the city possesses many of the characteristics more common of a suburban home. The front yard, back yard, driveway, and picket fence is a rarity in Old Town. 

Beyond the characteristics surrounding the home, the house itself is simply stunning. A stately home with a grand brick facade, the house is quite inviting. It has been protected by an historic easement since the 1960s after its owner at the time restored it. Interestingly enough, the owner in the 1960s was the first new owner in over 140 years. 


Photo Credit: Office of Historic Alexandria

The various characteristics I've outlined, the stunning architectural elements, and the feeling of a standalone house in the heart of the city make this home one we like to dream of owning. I could easily live with the lack of a garage. :-)

811 Prince St.

The second home I'll mention is actually just one block away from the first home. Interestingly enough, this home was built in 1854 and purchased by William H. Fowle in 1855. Yep, the son of the owner of the house I talked about earlier. Being in the shipping and banking business has its advantages, and this family sure wasn't light on cash.

Beginning with the Union occupation of Alexandria in 1864, this home was turned into a Civil War hospital for a time. In 1869, Fowle won his court case to recover ownership of his home, but died a short time later. Today, the home is a private residence and has remained one since Fowle won the house back in 1869.

The 4th floor attic retains evidence of its life as a Civil War hospital with writing on the wall left by a Union soldier in the hospital for treatment. It's hard to make out the writing, but you can still see that he has some unkind words for Jefferson Davis.

The current owners recently undertook a daunting renovation that uncovered some shocking secrets about the home. The house is a quite large all brick home and was actually constructed as if it were two homes, one front and one back. Over the years and with settlement of the foundation, the front and back portion of the home had begun to lean away from each other. In the basement, the interior brick walls seemed okay, but in the attic the home's walls had spread several feet, causing the masons to go running from the unstable house until a plan could be formulated.

Overall the renovation took nearly a year and a considerable about more than the original estimated budget. But in the end, the current owners poured their heart and soul (and cash) into the restoration of this historically significant home. The interior is impressive and grand, with 14 foot ceilings on the first floor. The home is lucky that it has the right owners that could both afford the renovation and had the desire to pursue it.


Photo Credit: Historic Map Works

These are just two of the hundreds of impressive homes we will ultimately cover, and we hope you enjoy this new feature. Let me know what you think of these homes and if you have any questions about them. We'll do our best to answer them.

Do you have a favorite home or homes in your neighborhood that you slow down to admire or dream about owning? 

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Old Town Home has been featured in the following places and publications:

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Old House Journal
 
 
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Washington Post Express Feature
 
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