North Ridge Residents Fight to Save 19th Century Home

The North Ridge Citizens’ Association has launched a Change.org petition to save a 100-year old home in the neighborhood from development.

The home tucked away behind some trees at 506 N. Overlook Drive was built sometime in the late 19th century, although exactly when is a matter of some disagreement. The home was owned by Hampshire Fractious (page 12), a freed Black man who lived in the city sometime in the late 19th century.

It sold for $1.2 million late last year, according to real estate website Redfin. The new owner, JS Investment LLC, plans to subdivide the property and build two new homes.

The petition currently has 624 signatures with a goal of 1000.

“North Ridge is about to lose one of its most cherished and symbolic structures,” the North Ridge Citizens’ Association said in the petition. “The new owner of 506 N. Overlook Drive is proposing to demolish this historic Civil War era house, subdivide the property, and build 2 new houses in its place. This house was built in 1850, owned by a free African American man named Hampshire Fractious in the years immediately after the Civil War, and is said to have been used as a hospital during the war. It is listed as a Documented Historic Site in the 1992 Alexandria Master Plan for Historic Preservation.”

A Washington Post article from 1992 similarly cites the home as being pre-Civil War and repeats the story that it was used as a field hospital. The Alexandria Master Plan for Historic Preservation lists the house (PDF page 69) as having been built in 1878 — over a decade after the Civil War ended. In a report on the subdivision reapplication, staff recommended approval.

“In summary, proposed Lots 500 and 501 would adhere to all subdivision and R-8 zone requirements,” staff said. “The lots are substantially similar in character as other similarly situated lots within the original subdivision.”

Staff said in the report that the building is not on the city’s list of buildings over 100 years old, despite the building being at the top of the list on the Master Plan for Historic Preservation’s list of buildings constructed before 1900.

The item is scheduled for review at the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, March 2.

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