Zebra Misc

George Washington Really Did Sleep Here and So Can You 

Brian Hilton, portraying General George Washington, outside Washington’s in-town house (townhouse) at 508 Cameron Street, Old Town Alexandria, September 18, 2021. (Photo: Mrs. Bennett of the Daughters of the American Revolution)

Alexandria, VA – Traveling by horse to and from his Mount Vernon home took George Washington more than the few minutes it would today. His commute was made a lot easier after he started using his “town” house at 508 Cameron Street in Alexandria. 

Washington used the two-bedroom house as an office and to spend the night when he was in town. Today, the structure is a reproduction that mimics the original and is a full-time AirBnB.

It was an “amazing place to stay…. It truly felt like we were staying in a museum,” commented a recent guest visiting from Houston.

The three-level townhome boasts over 48 amenities, including room for six to enjoy the two bedrooms, two baths, a dedicated workspace, a full kitchen, a washer/dryer, an English courtyard, and a private balcony. Plus, pets are allowed. 

At the rear of the lot is a large storage shed where the stable was situated. There are two parking spaces on the far side of the storage shed and off of “Washington Way,” where Washington would arrive by horse.

Washington purchased the quarter-block lot (Lot 118) on May 9, 1763 for ten pounds, ten shillings. From 1769 to 1771, he had a plain dwelling, a stable, and other necessary buildings constructed here as a town annex to Mount Vernon. The townhouse was the only house built by Washington for his personal use. Before the Revolutionary War, he used it often when he was in Alexandria. 

During the war and his presidency, it was often rented or lent to friends and family members. Dr. William Brown rented the house for about ten years; Martha Washington’s favorite niece, Fanny Bassett Washington, lived in it with her two boys for a little over a year in 1794-95; and Colonel Philip Marsteller, a close friend of Washington’s since the Revolution, former Mayor of Alexandria, and one of Washington’s pallbearers, took up residency in 1797. 

Many of Washington’s letters refer to spending the night “at my own house.” Other writings order fencing for the property and give detailed directions for such things as repairing the fireplaces, laying a brick floor in the basement, papering the bedroom wall, and painting the exterior.

It is the first piece of property listed in Washington’s will, and it was the only piece of property that he left outright to his wife, Martha, when he died. At her death, Mrs. Washington left the property to her nephew, Bartholomew Dandridge. 

Unfortunately, the dwelling deteriorated over time and was demolished in 1855. In 1960, Virginia Governor and Mrs. Richard Lowe had the house reconstructed based on existing accounts – particularly a drawing done by a neighbor about the time of the demolition (there is a copy at the house).

At present, the house rents for $290 a night, but this varies seasonally, and on occasion, it is offered for less for last-minute bookings.

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Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

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