top of page

"Maplewood: Fairfax County, Virginia"

Author: Diane N. Rafuse

Publisher: Fairfax County History Commission (1970)


Until February 1970 when it was razed, Maplewood was unique in Fairfax County as it was the only existing example of a residence in the Second Empire mode in the county of Fairfax.  Though the style of Maplewood was modified over the years, it was still a noteworthy product of an important architectural period in the cultural history of the United States.  As in any discussion of an architectural style, a discussion of a building's significance is enlarged when described in relation to its owners and the times in wich various individuals lived there.


Though Maplewood itself was not built until around 1870, the tract of land on which it stood has been owned by important Virginia families whose achievements have been recorded by historians of early America.  The succession of ownership of the land on which Maplewood was to be built includes the families of Fairfax, Scott, Lee, and Gantt.  The first home of significance on the land was called Strawberry Vale Manor.  This house, which was constructed some time during the last qurter of the eighteenth century, was familiar to persons traveling Route 123 from the District of Columbia to Fairfax as recently as the 1950's when the Manor was razed.


Until the partitioning of the Gantt estaate in 1840, over 600 acres were under the survey of Strawberry Vale.  Under the partitioning agreement, the Dulanys (the daughter and son-in-law of John Gantt, Jr.) received 222 acres which was to be the Maplewood tract  The Dulanys sold the tract to Townsend McVeigh in 1841, and he in turn sold it to Isaac Wilson in 1852.  Wilson sold his property to John J. Shipman in 1865.  Shipman built the house, originally called Villa Nouva, around 1870.  It is important to note that a house the size of Villa Nouva was built at this time in Fairfax County, which was suffering economic depression as a result of the destruction caused by military activity during the Civil War.


Villa Nouva had most of the exterior features required of a house of Second Empire design, including a center pavilion topped with a convex mansard roof.  The house was of red brick, which set off the light-colored ornamental window molding and balcony and porch railings.  Extensive interior remodeling in a style other than Second Empire obliterated most features compatible with the original design of the house.


The Shipmans sold Villa Nouva to General William McKee Dunn, a former member of Congress and a large landowner in Virginia.  During the period the Dunns owned the house (1884-1912), they changed its name to Maplewood.  The exterior appearance the house in 1970 dated from the period when the Dunns lived at Maplewood.  They painted the house yellow and removed the upper story banisters.  The interior of the house was renovated during the years the Charles L. Brodts owned Maplewood (1912-1919).  The wing on the west side of the house was enlarged.  The staircase was changed to a neoclassical one, and the original fireplaces were replaced with marble ones in the Louis XIV and Louis XVI style.  Plaster decorations of French design were added to the walls and ceilings on the first floor.  At one time, a stained glass window of Tiffany design was placed between the second- and third-floor stairway.  Two stained glass windows on the third floor date from the building of the house.  The house had 23 rooms.


Mr. Edmundson bought Maplewood in 1919, and sold it in 1925 to Mrs. Ethel M. Ulfelder.  According to several of the owners' wills and other records, the Maplewood property was farmed for profit.  At one time the land was used for dairying, and there is evidence that it was used for orcharding.  Most of the owners of Maplewood purchased additional land surrounding the house so that by 1962 when the Westgate Corporation became owner of Maplewood, the land it acquired with the house was almost coterminus with the original patent grants from Lady Catherine Fairfax to Alexander Scott in 1716 and from Thomas, Lord Fairfax, to Edward Emms in 1726.  At the time Maplewood was demolished, it served as the temporary headquarters of the Westgate Corporation -- developer of an industrial and research park.



Maplewood: Fairfax County, Va.

SKU: FCH6148
    bottom of page