‘George Washington Bathed Here!’

‘George Washington Bathed Here!’
Photo/Library of Congress

This week we continue the story of the Lloyd House at 220 N. Washington St. During the Civil War, Edmund Lloyd served as an officer in the Confederate Army while his family fled Union-held Alexandria for Gloucester, where his wife died in 1863. During those difficult years, the residence housed several local ministers — friends of the family — until Edmund and his children returned to the property in 1865.

By 1897 only two Lloyd sisters, Minnie and Jean, were living at the old homestead. The ladies, described as “intense rebels,” held the charter meeting of the first Virginia chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at Lloyd House in 1895.

After Minnie’s death in 1918, William Albert Smoot Jr., a local businessman and lumber yard owner, acquired the property. Smoot became mayor in 1922 and hosted many high-profile social and political events at the house — as seen in this 1936 photograph — until his death. His widow sold the house in 1942 for $25,000, and it then passed through several speculators.

By 1944 the large residence was transformed into “The Town House,” a lodging place for members of the Navy Women’s Reserve, more commonly called the WAVES. After the war ended, female military personnel and stewardesses arriving at National Airport continued to lodge at the facility, but by late 1956, it was slated for demolition.

In November 1956 — and just hours before it was to be torn down — a wealthy oilman from Pasadena, Calif., suddenly acquired the Lloyd House. Alexandria preservationists were thrilled when Robert Valentine New purchased the historic property after reading about its imminent plight in a local newspaper at National Airport.

Upon arriving in Alexandria several weeks later to inspect the property for the first time, he immediately ordered that all plumbing from the structure be removed and placed on the sidewalk with a sign that read “George Washington Bathed Here!”

Next week we will continue with the final installment on the Lloyd House’s unusual history.

-Out of the Attic is provided by the 
Office of Historic Alexandria.