Backyard History: The Lamond House

The Lamond House. Fairfax County may add it to the resident curator program, which would help preserve this charming Colonial-style home. (Photo by Jay Roberts)

The Lamond House

by Jay Roberts

In 2002, Fairfax County Park Authority purchased an 18-acre property south of Alexandria at 7509 Fort Hunt Road. The acquisition included a Colonial-style house built in 1940 and a surrounding grove of trees overlooking Sherwood Hall Lane. While the county continues to sort out the best use for the property, one can visit the park, a tucked-away gem with a hidden history.

Let’s take a look at the history of the home, the land, and the story of the Lamond family, who were prominent citizens of Alexandria and Fairfax County. Their children have vivid memories of living in the home, and their grandchildren have continued the family tradition of making a mark on local communities. Perhaps most important is that this story has not been told in full.

Like all of our peeks into the past in and around Alexandria, we must first acknowledge the footprints of native Americans. It’s hard to know if any of them stood on these 18 acres close to the Potomac River. An impressive number of archaeological studies, however, tell us they lived, hunted, and fished along the Potomac, Great Hunting Creek, and smaller bodies of water in and around Alexandria. Some of their names, such as Dogue Creek, remind us of their tribes.

This staircase leads to the second floor master bedroom and a balcony with spectacular views of Fort Hunt Road and surrounding groves of trees. (Photo by Jay Roberts)

As with other tracts of land in what became Fairfax County, the initial purchasers were land speculators. Thomas Sandiford acquired a 600-acre parcel in 1703 that included the future site of the Lamond property. That was half a century before Alexandria’s founding.

Leading up to the Lamond’s purchase in 1940, this land went through a series of owners. They include William Darrell and his wife Ann Fowke Mason, granddaughter of founding father George Mason IV; Gerrard Alexander, great grandson of the Scottish immigrant John Alexander (1603-1677); and Thomson Francis Mason, who distinguished himself in Alexandria as a prominent attorney and mayor, and lived with his family in Colross, an urban mansion that was dismantled and rebuilt in New Jersey in 1930. Mason built and summered in Huntley, the rare surviving 19th century home in and around Groveton.

In the 1920s, the placid nature of farm life in Fairfax County eroded with the arrival of the automobiles and more and more roads. The coming of cars was an overture to a new era of land use which began in the county in the 1930s. A 1937 historical aerial view shows patches of vacant farmland and the beginning of three neighborhoods: Belle Haven, New Alexandria, and Groveton.

The Lamond story began in earnest in November 1939, when the Washington Evening Star reported the wedding of Jaquelin Randolph Smith (1915-2015) to Angus Slater Lamond (1908-1987) at the St. Georges Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg.

Smith grew up at the “Steamboat House” in Fredericksburg and graduated from Mary Washington College before coming to Alexandria to teach at St. Agnes Episcopal Church. She was believed to be a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, and she gave her time and talents to a number of local organizations, such as the Hunting Creek Garden Club and the Alexandria Town Committee. In a life that spanned 99 years, Jaquelin Lamond stayed active in horseback riding, fine art, and gardening.

Angus Slater Lamond, like a good number of Alexandrians through the years, traced his family’s roots to Scotland.

Lamond, who by some accounts went by “Slater,” distinguished himself in many ways, including vice mayor, member of the Alexandria City Council, master of the Alexandria-Washington Masonic Lodge and the Fairfax Historical Society.

During the 1940s, southeast Fairfax County was increasingly developed with suburban neighborhoods. Most homes built in following decades were on a small plot of land. Each was steps away from the next one.

Lamond House’s once elegant and manicured garden, its fountain now covered over. (Photo by Jay Roberts)

The house the Lamond’s built was a notable exception. Their home stood on the crown of a hill, had its own spread of land, and was reminiscent of Mount Eagle, a 1790 country manor home overlooking Alexandria. (Mount Eagle was demolished in 1968; the Huntington Metro Station and several condominium complexes were built on the property.)

But it’s often difficult to know who designed and built older homes. With the Lamond House, it is possible, even likely, that Malcolm Matheson, Jr. sketched out the design.

Matheson was a prominent developer who put his stamp on a number of homes in Virginia and Washington. He lived at River Farm, a country home south of the Lamond property on land once owned by George Washington. Matheson built this dwelling sometime in the late 1930s. Like Angus Lamond, Matheson earned fame in Alexandria. He graduated from Episcopal High School and became president of the Charles H. Thompkins Company, a leading construction firm in the area.

The Lamond’s raised their four children at their home, which they dubbed “Gowan Brae,” Scottish for “Daisy Hill.”

Angus Slater Lamond, Jr. recalled a love of walking in those woods. He was charmed by a nesting bald eagle, rabbits, turtles, a honey bee hive, and a stoned-in artesian well.

Speaking of his late mother, Lamond said, “There wasn’t anything she couldn’t do. We had azaleas, rhododendrons, and lilies. It was a fun time to grow up.” Lamond also spoke of family forebears, who include his great-great-grandfather, John Slater.

The Lamond property is reached by a curving gravel driveway that leads from Fort Hunt Road up to the house. A chain runs across the entrance today, as it did when the Lamond family lived there.

Angus Lamond Jr.’s, son, Trae, who owns and runs Chadwick’s in Old Town, recalled distant memories of visiting Lamond House. “I had chain duty,” he said, “whenever guests were arriving.”

Trae Lamond is a grandson of Angus Slater Lamond, who built Lamond House. Trae, who owns Chadwicks in Old Town, remembers events in the house. (Photo courtesy of Zebra)

With the children grown up and the Lamond’s downsizing, Fairfax County acquired the property from Mrs. Lamond in 2000. In May 2012, the county held a renaming ceremony. In a move that did not please everyone, Lamond Park became Gilbert S. McCutcheon Park.

McCutcheon, who had passed away that December, was honored for his dedication as vice chair of the Park Authority Board. He also served in leadership roles such as Mount Vernon Farms Market Master

Preservationists struggle with what to do with a historic house. An alternative to turning it into a museum is the resident curator program. In lieu of paying rent, resident curators move in and take on restoration responsibilities.

As reported by The Washington Post, Fairfax County inaugurated their program in 2014. The county is hoping to begin outreach soon for the Lamond House. Like all the homes we save, it has stories to tell.