This unique building, constructed of stone and set back from the street, was built by John Carlyle, a British merchant and one of the original founders of Alexandria. Witness to both domestic life and war, today the house stands as a museum dedicated to telling the story of Carlyle's journey from British citizen to American patriot.
Who Was John Carlyle?
John Carlyle first came to America as a merchant's "factor" or agent. While in Virginia, he met and married Sarah Fairfax, a member of the wealthy Fairfax family. As a second son, John Carlyle would have had difficulty becoming prosperous in England, but in the New World, he was quickly able to become a prominent landowner, merchant and town leader. Between 1751 and 1753, John Carlyle built this home using Aquia sandstone. Although this outer layer of stone was replaced, you can see the original material on the cornice, just below the roofline.
What Happened Here?
Only two years after moving in, the Carlyles received an historic visit. General Edward Braddock, sent by the King in England, made the home his headquarters in 1755. On April 13th, five Royal Colonial Governors arrived at the house for what John Carlyle called "the Grandest Congress...ever known on this Continent." Here, Braddock and the Governors discussed their strategy for the French and Indian War, including how they would fund it. It was agreed that Parliament would need to "compel" the colonists to pay by levying taxes, a decision that would one day contribute to the American Revolution.