One of Alexandria’s great 18th century “mansions” is the Lloyd House at 220 N. Washington St. Shown here in a photograph taken soon after 1900, those intrigued by the city’s significant architectural heritage will note that there are many similarities between this building, Gadsby’s Tavern and the Edmund Jennings Lee home located at the famous “Lee Corner” of Oronoco and North Washington streets. That is because John Wise, an influential businessman, built all of the structures. He even lived at 220 N. Washington St. for a short time after finishing it around 1796.
Wise soon leased the house to Charles Lee, younger brother of Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee. Charles Lee served as Attorney General in the administrations of George Washington and John Adams and later was counsel to the plaintiffs in the infamous Marbury vs. Madison case at before the U.S. Supreme Court.
After Lee’s tenancy, the house was leased again, this time to Revolutionary War veteran James Marshall. After Marshall’s time in the home, it was sold in 1810 to Jacob Hoffman, who ran a prosperous sugar refinery just south of his new home.
By 1825 the property had been sold to Elizabeth Hooe, who leased it to one of Alexandria’s greatest Quaker educators, Benjamin Hallowell, for a school. Hallowell converted the former refinery building into a student dormitory and a residence for his growing family.
But upon Mrs. Hooe’s death, Joseph Lloyd outbid Hallowell for the property at a public auction and took possession of the house in 1833. Lloyd was a dry goods merchant and real estate speculator, and his wife, Anne, was a first cousin of Robert E. Lee.
The famed general often visited the house and one of the great, though unconfirmed, myths of Alexandria is that Lee learned he was offered command of Virginia’s forces at the outbreak of the Civil War there in 1861.
.In next week’s “Out of the Attic” column, we will continue the fascinating story of Lloyd House.