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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Big House: 1925

The Big House: 1925

      UPDATE: The location is the old Maplewood estate near Lewinsville in Fairfax County, Virginia; the 1874 Second Empire mansion, at 7676 Old Springhouse Road in what's now McLean, was known as Villa Nuova. The residence was demolished in 1970; whatever connection it might have had to Woodrow Wilson is unknown. Hat tip to Shorpy member Wiggy.

Circa 1925. "Woodrow Wilson house." No other information provided. (Not pictured: Tweety and Sylvester in the parlor, going at it hammer and tongs.) National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5


Best Shorpy caption ever!


A 1956 newspaper article below refers to the house as, "the summer home of Woodrow Wilson." I can't find any contemporaneous accounts to confirm that but then it is probably not the sort of thing reported in newspapers. Owners included Brigadier General William McKee Dunn in the 1870s and Charles Brodt in the 1910s. Sidney and Ethel Ulfelder bought the property in the late 1920s and held it for 5 decades. Control of the property was passed to their son-in-law Rudolph Seeley, who quickly razed the building soon after Mrs. Ulfelder's death before it could be declared a historic landmark.

Washington Post, July 30, 1956.

McLean Seeks U. of Va. Branch

A McLean, Va., group came forward with a last-minute proposal yesterday for the location of the Northern Virginia branch of the University of Virginia at the historic Maplewood estate of Dr. and Mrs. Sidney Ulfelder. They also suggested that the proposed Fairfax County Hospital be located on the property.

The 500-acre estate, which includes a 24-room mansion which at one time was the summer home of Woodrow Wilson, will sell for $2500 an acre, they said. …

The McLean Group, made up of French Trammell, Robert A. Alden and O.L. Brandenburger, met yesterday with Col. Rudolph G. Seeley, manager of the estate and son-in-law of the Ulfelders. …

Washington Post, November 12, 1969.

Ethel Ulfelder, 84, a major land owner in Fairfax County and the widow of Dr. Sidney Ulfelder, a physician at the American-British Cowdray Hospital in Mexico City from 1900 until his death in 1959, died Monday after a brief illness in Mexico City.

She owned the 512-acre Maplewood Farm, part of which is now the Tysons Corner shopping center, the Westgate Industrial Park and nearby sections of what is now the Beltway and Dulles Airport access roads. The old Maplewood house itself is now the Westgate office, on Rte. 123 in McLean. …

Washington Post, February 25, 1970.

Wrecking Crew Steals March on History Buffs in Fairfax

Wrecking crews stole a march on history buffs last weekend. A 100-year-old Victorian mansion the buffs had hoped to preserve was demolished and apparently none of them know anything about it until it was too late.

The 24-room, yellow-painted brick home, known as Maplewood, was torn down at the Westgate Research Park near Tyson's Corner to make way for construction of another industrial building. …

“We are just terribly depressed, surprised and shocked,” said Joyce Wilkinson, chairman of the Fairfax County Historical Commission. She and other commission members claimed that Rudolph Seeley, executive vice president of Westgate Corp., told them last October that the structure would not be torn down for up to three years and not sooner than one year.

Seeley said the demolition was ordered because the “house is standing on very valuable, highly taxed land” and was “not a particularly architectural gem under any stretch of the imagination.”

Washington Post, January 6, 1988.

Col. Rudolph G. Seeley, 72, a Fairfax County civic leader and developer who helped pioneer the explosive commercial growth of the Tysons Corner area, died of cancer Jan. 4 at his home in McLean. …

It was not until after the war that Col. Seeley moved to the Washington area. The family of his wife, the former Martha Ulfelder, had been farmers in the Tysons Corner area since the 1920s, and the colonel became manager of their dairy business during the late 1950s. Construction occurred between 1958 and 1964. There were 14 interchanges on the highway in Fairfax County alone. The idea that major commercial development would take place so far from downtown Washington was thought to be preposterous. Where the Beltway passed near Tysons Corner there was a feed store, a gas station, a restaurant and a general store. Much of the Ulfelder farm was taken for the Beltway right of way. Mindful of development opportunities, Col. Seeley led a group in acquiring more acreage with a view to rezoning it for commercial use.

The wisdom of this move was affirmed with construction of the Dulles Airport Access Road. The Seeley-Ulfelder holdings were at the intersection of Rtes. 7 and 123, roads that had existed since Colonial times. With the building of the Beltway and the Dulles Access Road the land was better served by major highways than any location in Northern Virginia. In 1961 Col. Seeley and Gerald Halpin, a former officer of Atlantic Research Corp., combined land holdings to build a research and industrial park and they helped found the Westgate Corp. to carry out their plans. Col. Seeley also was part of a partnership that leased land to Maryland builders who erected the Tysons Corner Center. It opened in 1968 with three anchor stores and about 70 smaller businesses. …

Why, thank you, Thing!

Photo brings another family to mind:

They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky,
The Addams Family.

Their house is a museum
Where people come to see 'em
They really are a scream
The Addams Family.

Snap, snap!


Why have so many of these lovely houses that appear in Shorpy pictures been demolished?

[House old and decrepit, land value increases, owners sell out. - Dave]

Maplewood aka Villa Nuova

In the 60s we used to pass this marvelous house on the way to my father's office and it always fascinated me. It was located on Chain Bridge Road (VA 123) between Vienna and McLean, Virginia, near Tyson's Corner (which I just remember as a real corner--the intersection of two, two-lane roads with a junky little country store).

The marvelous mansard was demolished 1970, alas -- but at least HABS took photos. I don't know anything about a Woodrow Wilson connection.

[Thank you, Wiggy! - Dave]

No Way!

When I showed my wife this photo, and casually commented how nice it would be to live in such a big house, she had one comment:

"You better hire a cleaning service, 'cause there's NO WAY I'm gonna be cleaning all those windows!"

Masnard roof

The finest quality Second Empire buildings were usually masonry up to the bottom of the top floor, then wood frame on up. The lightweight wood "Masnard" framing allowed for such free-form, Munster-like extravagances as we associate with the style. Unfortunately, such buildings are notoriously leaky and suffer badly from even short periods of neglect.

[Ahem. The word is MANSARD, not "masnard." -Dave]

The Ringer

Woodrow Wilson is always the name that trips up folks when you ask them to tell you the eight presidents born in Virginia.

Most quickly think of Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, and may eventually come up with Harrison, Taylor and Tyler. But no one expects a 20th Century president to have been born in Staunton, Va.

Porch Columns

What an interesting detail for the top of those columns. An exquisite house, very handsome. Just need to know the location, nothing else needed.

Wilson connection

Information on Woodrow Wilson's residences is easily available online. What's not so easy is figuring out when, or if, he lived in this house: it's not the Virginia house where he was born; it's neither of his boyhood houses, in Georgia and South Carolina; it's none of the three houses where he lived in New Jersey; and it's not the house he bought shortly before leaving the presidency and where he died a few years later.

WOW, beautiful Second Empire house!

Any ideas as to where this is/was located in DC? Inquiring minds want to know.

Norman and Mother

This house looks perfect for the Bates family.

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