The Glenfiddich property at 205 N. King St. is an imposing 19th century Italianate-style house in Leesburg, but it’s the combination of its size, location and its Civil War ties that continues to draw interest.
The Glenfiddich complex includes the house, the Stables and the Carriage House and is now offered for sale by David and Melanie Miles through Engel & Volkers Lansdowne. The property extends from King to Wirt streets, a rare remaining one-block deep property in the town’s historic district.
Charlotte Bonini, a historic preservation specialist and land planner on the Engel & Volkers team, said the public reception has been enthusiastic. Bonini’s team, which includes Jennifer Surlas, is headed by Julie Broadie, listing agent and ownr of Engel & Volkers’ Lansdowne and Tysons offices. She notes that most visitors are surprised by the extent of the property, particularly that it comprises more than 10,000 square feet of space.
The size and complexity of Glenfiddich makes it difficult to convey through photographs and video how unusual it is, the agents say, noting that’s a comment frequently made by visitors.
What Glenfiddich has is an astonishing amount of original material and history. Like a Pandora’s box that keeps revealing further and further secrets, the house continues to delight the visitor as each new tidbit of its character is unveiled, including its ties to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
On a recent tour, the property was revealed as being more intricate and older than the strongly Italianate architecture of its front façade. The oldest section is a log structure built in 1774. It is thought the extensive slave quarters once were located along the North and King streets corner of the property.
Unseen from King Street is the large lawn and mature boxwoods to the rear of the house, connecting the house to the Stables—where Lee’s renowned horse, Traveler, was once sheltered—and to the Carriage House on the north side. The Stables building was constructed in 2004 on the original stables site and serves as a four-car garage and offices, while the Carriage House, built in 2001, is used as a residence.
The property also contains a circa 1800 log spring house and a circa 1855 brick smoke house
Formerly known as Harrison Hall, the main portion of the house, was built for Henry and Jane Harrison between 1850 and 1860, by Leesburg’s famed Norris Brothers, who took the existing brick two-story structure built in 1780 and converted it into a three-story house. At the time of its construction, it was considered the finest house in Leesburg.
The house’s name was changed to Glenfiddich by the previous owners, the LeHanes, who purchased it in a tax sale around 1980. They owned Glenfiddich Farm and asked the famous Scottish distillery of that name if they could use the name for their new Leesburg house. The distillery owners agreed—as long as a bottle of Glenfiddich malt whisky was on prominent display—which it is in the living room.
The house has long been identified with Leesburg’s Civil War history.
Early on it became a center of hospitality for Confederate officers passing through the area. Also, wounded soldiers from the Oct. 21, 1861, Battle of Ball’s Bluff, were cared for at Harrison Hall. They included Col. E.R. Burt of the 18th Mississippi, who died of his wounds four days after the battle.
Lee stayed there on his way to the fateful battle at Antietam in 1862. But behind that fact lies an interesting story.
The details of Lee’s two-night stay at Harrison Hall provide a poignant and personal glimpse into the lives of historical figures. He was thrown from his horse when Traveler shied from a fast-approaching courier. The injured general was carried on a stretcher into the house and up to one of the large second-floor bedrooms overlooking the garden. He broke one wrist and badly sprained the other.
In considerable pain, with both bandaged wrists showing under his cuffs, Lee received treatment at Harrison Hall on Sept. 4, 1862, where that evening he held a war council with his closest advisors, planning the Confederate invasion of Maryland—that culminated in the Sept. 17 Battle of Antietam. Those present are well known in history—Generals Lewis Armistead, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, James Longstreet and Brown “JEB” Stuart. One would have loved to have been a fly on that wall.
What is surprising also is the amount of original material left in the house, including floor-to-ceiling pocket doors, moldings, pine floors, the handsome tiger maple stairway bannisters and rail, and many of the blown glass windows. The double parlor in the front of the main house is exactly as it was during Lee’s visit, including the Tennessee marble fireplaces, as are the large, handsomely proportioned bedrooms.
In the oldest part of the house, dating to the 1770s, rafters are exposed—and therein lies another tale. During renovations to the log back room in the early 1980s, thousands of $5 uncirculated notes were found in a box hidden in the rafters. One theory is that the money was intended as payment of Lee’s taxes on his and his wife’s property, Arlington House. But the money eventually went to a good use—the notes were sold and used in the renovation work on the house.
Lee was not the only famous occupant of the house. U.S. Poet Laureate James Dickey lived there from 1966 to 1968, working on his famous novel “Deliverance,” while also commuting to Washington, DC. The desk on which he wrote the first drafts of “Deliverance” is still at Glenfiddich.
And it is from another pen, that of the young Alice Harrison, who describes in letters she wrote years later—now in the collection at the Loudoun Museum—watching the Battle of Balls Bluff in October 1861, as she joined a group for a picnic at the edge of the battlefield. It is also claimed that the noise and explosions of the battle could be heard and seen from the third floor windows of Harrison Hall.
Today, the house contains the best of the old and the new, having been updated and modernized to fit the needs of the Miles LeHane Companies, an executive coaching company.
The property is offered for multiple uses—as a business headquarters and educational/training center, a small hotel, bed and breakfast inn and/or a family home.
The house compound is offered at $3.75 million; the house itself for $2.4 million; and the Carriage House and the Stables only, at 206 Wirt Street, for $1.35 million.
Engel & Volkers is a global firm, founded in Hamburg, Germany, in 1977. The company expanded to Spain and North America, where it now has offices in Texas, California, Virginia, New York and Canada. For more information, or to tour the house virtually, go to GlenfiddichHouse.com. To speak to an agent, call 703-206-8702.