In the front hallway of her historic home, Melanie Miles stands next to a grainy black-and-white image of a stern-faced Confederate officer and talks about their many encounters. One night in the mid-1990s, she saw an apparition “standing here in his full regalia,” she recalls. “He looked right at me.” She believes the spirit to be Col. Erasmus Burt, a soldier who died in the house after being wounded at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861, according to a Civil War-era diary discovered in the house.
She found his photo after doing research. Col. Burt’s spirit is “a very positive energy,” she says “The Colonel” is just a part of the lore surrounding Glenfiddich House, a 1-acre estate on the market for $3.75 million with Engel & Völkers Lansdowne. The property also includes a new four-bedroom home, a modest office building, a spring house built around 1800 and an 1850s smokehouse.
Originally called Harrison Hall, the estate is known for its place in the Civil War history of Leesburg, Va., a small town on the Potomac River about 40 miles outside Washington, D.C. The home’s primary claim to fame is that Gen. Robert E. Lee stayed there in September 1862, recuperating from an injury after the Battle of Second Manassas. During that stay, he met with generals, including Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, in the dining room to make plans for what culminated in the Battle of Antietam, according to a marker placed on the property by Virginia’s Civil War Trails program.
A century later, the home was rented by author James Dickey, who wrote much of the novel “Deliverance” in an upstairs room overlooking the magnolia trees out front, according to his son, author/journalist Christopher Dickey. Ms. Miles and her husband, David, have owned the house since the early 1990s. They paid $690,000, public records show, and have since spent about $1.5 million to restore it.
The home has eight bedrooms, with original pine floorboards and a fireplace in nearly every room. Ceilings about 13 feet high have allowed the Mileses to bring in towering Christmas trees for the holidays. In the entryway, a tiny metal bell is attached to a white cord running under the floorboards to the front door, where it served as a doorbell. “We hope we’re going to pass this on to somebody who’s going to have as much interest and respect as we do for the property,” Ms. Miles says. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
The earliest part of the house was a one-room cabin dating back to about 1780. The structure, since altered, still has its original handblown glass windows. Outside, the log-and-cement spring house, used to cover a spring and store ice, has a dirt floor and hand-hewn beams. The home gets its name from local merchant Henry Harrison, who bought the property and built a grand Italianate mansion next to the cabin. The mansion, completed around 1850, was constructed with bricks handmade from soil on the property; fingerprints are still visible on some bricks, according to Mr. Miles. “It was certainly the finest house in Leesburg at the time,” says Virginia-based historian Eugene Scheel.
The dining room, where Gen. Lee held his meeting, still has its original moldings and Tennessee marble fireplace; a painting of the scene hangs next to the fireplace. In the 20th century, the cabin and the mansion were connected to create the roughly 5,500-square-foot house that exists today. The property stayed in the Harrison family for more than 100 years before being sold in the 1950s. Mr. Dickey rented the house for his family from 1966 to 1968 while he was the poetry consultant for the Library of Congress.
A fire resulted in the house being abandoned before consultant Lou LeHane bought it around 1979. He and his wife made repairs and used it as the headquarters of their strategic-management consulting business. When the Mileses bought the house for $690,000, they also bought the business and renamed it Miles LeHane. The couple have lived in the house off and on. In the early 2000s they moved into a four-bedroom home they built on the site of a long-gone stable on the far side of the property, careful to make it look like it is from the same period as the mansion. A two-story garage and office building is similarly designed. (Certain parcels can be bought separately.)
The two have hosted Civil War re-enactors and other groups, and Ms. Miles often gives impromptu tours to passersby. They’re selling because they no longer need the house for business. “We’re ready to make our lives a lot simpler,” says Ms. Miles, adding they plan to build a one-story home in Leesburg. They hope the next owner will use the historic estate as a museum or for a nonprofit.
Jennifer Surlas Real Estate Advisor
ENGEL & VÖLKERS LANSDOWNE Licensee of Engel & Völkers U.S. Holdings, Inc.
19301 Winmeade Drive
Suite 208 Leesburg, VA 20176
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