The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

N.Va. Colonial with river views listed at nearly $2.7 million

HOUSE OF THE WEEK | The four-bedroom, five-bathroom home is adjacent to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.

A curved staircase in the foyer leads to the second floor. (Home Visit)
4 min

When Alison Ross Tompkins was house hunting in 2018, she searched the D.C. area for “something that had a real wow factor.” First impressions of other properties she looked at in the city and suburbs, she said, did not compare with the moment she drove past this Northern Virginia house with views of the Potomac River.

“I thought, ‘We’ve got to get in and see this,’” Tompkins said. “We didn’t know what was hidden behind this house, and as soon as we got to the back and saw everything it had to offer, wow, we were blown away.”

Tompkins may have been looking for a unique home, but she wasn’t necessarily in the market for a historic one. The area’s history, however, is an attraction, she said. The house is only a couple hundred yards from George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon. Michel Folliet, Tompkins’s husband, said he can walk there by way of the riverbank at low tide.

The experience of living next door to an enduring symbol of American history is enhanced by bald eagles that Tompkins said perch on trees in the backyard and dive for fish in the river.

The property, though some miles from the city of Alexandria, is in what is often called the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, and it has an Alexandria mailing address.

The house, built in 1973, was remodeled and much enlarged in the late 1980s, going from ranch-style to roomy Colonial. The builder, Tompkins said, added the entire back section, which has large river-facing windows on each floor.

“All of it has these beautiful views,” she said. The builder “wanted to make sure you could see the river from every room” of the addition.

Tompkins and Folliet moved into the roughly 6,700-square-foot house in 2018. Since then, renovations have been relatively minor, “behind the scenes” and cosmetic. They added a new roof, installed a new HVAC system, stained and replaced cabinetry and adjusted a bathroom countertop upward, to “back-saving height.”

The house has a brick walkway that leads to the front portico and entry. The foyer has a high ceiling and a marble-tiled floor. On one side, the main level (first floor) has a dining room with a chandelier and a living area with a dry bar and a gas-burning fireplace. On the other side, there is a kitchen with a breakfast bar, two wall ovens and a dining area with river views. The main level also has a powder room (half-bath) and custom trim.

A curved staircase at the rear of the house leads to the second floor, which has three bedrooms. The primary bedroom suite has an office and two sitting areas overlooking the river. The suite also has a coffee bar, a walk-in closet, a built-in speaker system and a private bathroom. The en suite bathroom has a two-sink vanity, a jetted tub, a separate shower, a heated floor and an enclosed toilet closet. Each of two other bedrooms on this floor has an en suite bathroom.

On the lower level, there is a bedroom with an en suite bathroom. An entertainment room on this level has a wet bar, a ceramic-tile floor and a wine cooler.

Outside, an underground irrigation system waters the landscaping. The property has a two-car garage and a driveway with room for several more cars. A backyard patio provides space for entertaining. Tompkins said previous owners held a wedding there. A deck extends from the patio nearly to the river, and the back of the house has a porch, or lanai, with two-story columns.

“We can see sunrises and sunsets from that lanai,” Tompkins said. “With the leaves off the trees, it’s really quite striking.”


9320 Old Mansion Rd., Alexandria, Va.

  • Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4/5
  • Approximate square-footage: 6,700
  • Lot size: 0.36 acre
  • Features: A ranch house built in 1973 was turned into a much larger Colonial-style home in the late 1980s. In the back, the house has large windows with panoramic views of the Potomac River. Recent renovations added a new roof, replaced the HVAC system and upgraded the kitchen and the primary suite bathroom. The property has a patio and a deck that extends toward the river. There is a tw0-car garage and a driveway with room for more vehicles.
  • Listing agent: Mike Downie, Weichert Realty