Friday, April 11, 2014

The Historic Marwood Estate - Sleeping Beauty on the Potomac

Many, many years ago I had the pleasure of stumbling upon the Marwood estate.  As a design assistant, I had many projects out in Potomac Maryland on River Road.  One day after passing Potomac Village, I came upon a magnificent archway/gatehouse to the left.  Intrigued, I turned into the drive and after about a half mile came across a stately French inspired estate that was crumbling, deserted and left for dead. 
I had stumbled upon Marwood - a historic home of importance that had been left to ruin.  It was spectacular even in its dilapidated state.  Beautiful floor to ceiling windows, and graciously sized rooms and when I walked around to the rear of the main house the view over the Potomac and on to Virginia was breathtaking. 
I was in love but alas her $4 million dollar price tag was not in my budget although I racked my brain for weeks to try to find a way!  Here is a snippet about the history of Marwood taken from Period Homes writer Nancy E. Berry:
"Modeled after the central core of Chateau de Malmaison, Napoleon's Empress Josephine's 18th-century abode just outside Paris, Marwood sits high on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River in Maryland. The Beaux-Arts estate was designed in 1931 for young newlyweds, who traveled extensively throughout Europe seeking artifacts and antiques to furnish their home while it was under construction. Unfortunately, the marriage dissolved shortly after the couple arrived home (the young husband is said to have perished from a broken heart just months after the breakup). The widow remarried and soon moved out and the house became a rental property.

Washington, DC, elite, such as the late ambassador Joseph Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, rented the estate. It was then owned for a long period by Grady Gore and was often visited by his family, the late senator Albert Arnold Gore Sr., and his son, former Vice President Al Gore. Nevertheless the formal gardens were never realized and the house fell into disrepair. In the 1980s, all but 13½ acres of the 200-acre parcel was sold off and subdivided. The house changed hands and was lightly renovated at this time, but not finished. For years, the estate had sat all but vacant, an empty shell looming over the Potomac, neglected and unloved."

So there the lovely Marwood sat for many years much to my chagrin until a wealthy couple (Chris Rogers - a telecom executive and his wife) bought the property and began extensive renovations.  Here is what the property looks like now after a massive renovation by Barnes Vanze Architects and interior designer Mary Drysdale. 
Thankfully it was thoughtfully restored in keeping with classic Beaux Arts style and was never demolished like so many old beauties have been.  Renovating is more expensive and running into unexpected issues and expenses is always the norm.  Thank goodness the new owners had the vision and means to do it right. 


The photos below show the massive excavation project which enabled the new owners to have a large garage/car storage area out of view and underground.  This was such a beautifully planned element by the architects as too often garages - even on large estates -  take away from the architecture of the main house. 

 Now let's go inside...




I will let the interiors speak for themselves but I will say they are classic without being stodgy and staid.  The fresh color palate and chromatic art give the new Marwood a fresh, young demeanor.  There are gorgeous applied moldings, simple French furniture and subtle details like stenciling on the floor.  It was not over-furnished or over done like so many grand homes thanks to Drysale's keen eye.
To the side of the house is the pool area with the original pool house structure.  It seems to be the same structure I saw the day I explored the grounds. 
Notice how lush the surrounding trees are.   

Here is a view of the rear of the house showing dual
porticos the architects added on each side of the patio.  


I wanted to share with you the incredible view from the house to the Potomac River but unfortunately there were no photos showing that heart stopping view that took my breath away. 
The house has changed hands since her renovation and the new owner is Ted Leonsis and family who paid $20 million for her.  He also happens to own the Washington Capitals, and Wizards pro teams.  Hopefully he continues to treat Marwood with the love and care she deserves and I have my eye on a few other old beauties if anyone wants to invest?!
Read the full article from Period Homes about
the renovation of Marwood
and visit the architects website
Until Next Time,
Photos from Period Homes, Barnes Vanze Architects and Veranda Magazine

1 comment:

  1. Count me in!! I am drooling over that home, stunning and what an investment 4million and now 20 million wow!! Love historic estate in need of a little TLC, wonderful post have a great weekend!


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