When lots of land in Alexandria, Virginia were auctioned off in 1749, Scottish merchant, John Carlyle bought numbers 41 and 42 in what would eventually be known as “Old Town.” Using indentured and slave labor, Carlyle began construction of his new home in 1751, completing it two years later. His plans included space for his family, entertaining, and for servant use, along with a number of out-buildings for his business and the household. Carlyle was very successful in the business world, owning three plantations and a foundry. In 1755, during the French and Indian Wars, Major-General Edward Braddock made the Carlyle House his headquarters. Carlyle reportedly was not very pleased with this arrangement as Braddock caused a lot of damage to the interior of the main building. During this same period, the Virginia Congress frequently met in Carlyle’s dining room to help develop strategy for the war. Upon Carlyle’s death in 1780, his son, George, inherited the home. Unfortunately, George himself died a year later. The House then passed through a number of family members until 1826, when it was sold to pay off some debts.By 1860, the then owner, James Green, built a hotel (known as the Mansion House Hotel) in the front yard, neglecting the home behind it. In its heyday, the hotel became known as one of the best on the East Coast. During the Civil War, Union Troops converted the hotel into a hospital for the wounded. Following the Civil War, the property again changed hands several times with a number of upgrades and renovations. During the mid-1970’s, the hotel was torn down and the house totally restored, eventually becoming a National Historic Site.
Scotish Merchant, John Carlyle’s home in “Old Town” Alexandria. At the time construction was completed (1753), this was the grandest home in the neighborhood.
John Carlyle (1720 - 1780) came to the Virginia colony in 1739 and became a successful landowner and businessman. In addition, Carlyle became quite socially active as a Justice if the Peace and contractor for many public works projects.
Like many homes of the period, the main hall had two entrances (front and back) to allow for cross ventilation during the summer.
When guests arrived, the formal drawing room was used for entertaining.
Often used as a Music Room, the small drawing room was for intimate family occasions.
One of the unique features of homes of this time period were the small closets in the first floor rooms. The most prized family possessions were usually kept in these closets.
The upstairs hallway was used to display period clothing.
Of course, the master bedroom was the main feature of the second floor.
A second bedroom would be used for guests or children.
As nice as the house was, the backyard was equally impressive...
...including this English style garden.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.