July 22, 2019
Historic mansion on land George Washington once owned is set to be demolishedBreaking News
tags: George Washington
A historic mansion on farmland once owned by George Washington is set to be demolished, a loss bemoaned by some in Virginia.
The Collingwood mansion, located on almost nine acres of land along the Potomac River about four miles north of Mount Vernon, was once part of Washington’s sprawling estate, which included five farms, nearly 8,000 acres and up to 200 enslaved people. Part of the mansion may have been built to house one of Washington’s overseers, local historians believe.
The property was purchased for $2.6 million by Tyler Murrell in 2015, according to Fairfax County land records. Murrell is one of the sons in the family that owns the Five Guys restaurant chain, headquartered in Virginia. Murrell was unable to be reached for comment. Calls to the Five Guys headquarterswere not returned.
A demolition permit application was filed last month, and permission to tear down the structure was granted by Fairfax County on July 1.
“It’s always deeply disappointing to see the loss of a historically significant building, like Collingwood mansion,” said Brian Worthy, a public information officer for Fairfax County. “While this home is listed on Fairfax County’s Inventory of Historic Sites, this designation is honorific only, and it doesn’t prevent the property owner from making changes, including tearing it down.”
Worthy said he did not know when the demolition would be scheduled. The permit is valid through the end of the year.
Anne Stuntz, chair of the Fairfax County History Commission, sent a letter in December to Fairfax County Supervisor Daniel G. Storck (D-Mount Vernon), trying to save Collingwood. The property had the potential as an archaeological site "both related to the house itself and its outbuildings, and to Native American occupation,” Stuntz wrote. Some surveys around the house had already produced artifacts.
“I hate when we lose these lovely old buildings,” Stuntz said in a phone interview.
“It is hard because there is so much history in them,” she said. “But in the state of Virginia, generally speaking, if you own a piece of property you have a lot of rights. It is tricky to impose what we want on a private owner.”
Washington bought the Collingwood property in 1760, after he married the widow Martha Dandridge Custis, who brought with her 153 enslaved people.
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