The Lee-Fendall House is a historic house museum and garden located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Since its construction in 1785 the house has served as home to thirty-seven members of the Lee Family (1785–1903), hundreds of convalescing Union soldiers (1863–1865), the prominent Downham family (1903–1937), and powerful labor leader John L. Lewis (1937–1969). The 1785 house, standing on its original half-acre lot, is in the vernacular "telescopic style" of architecture similar to Many Maryland homes, but not found elsewhere in northern Virginia. The house was renovated in 1850, adding Greek Revival and Italianate elements to the original structure.
In November 1784, Major General Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee (1756–1818) purchased 3 one-half acre lots in Alexandria from Baldwin Dade (1716–1783), a merchant. On December 4, 1784, he sold one of these tracts to Philip Richard Fendall I, Esq. (1734–1805), for three hundred pounds, and Philip began building the Lee-Fendall House, for his second wife, Elizabeth (Steptoe) Lee (1743–1789), in the Spring or Early summer of 1785. The lot was located on the southeast corner of Washington and Oronoco Street, then the edge of the city. At the time, very few structures were near, and the Fendalls enjoyed a spectacular view of Oronoco Bay and the ships which docked there. To the north and west lay verdant fields of grass and clover. Alexandria was an up-and-coming thriving social and political Center in Northern Virginia.
Home of the Lees
After the Revolution, Alexandria, already known as "Washington's Home Town", became known also as the "Home Town of the Lees". At "Lee Corner", the intersection of Washington and Oronoco Streets, stands the "Keystone", the Fendall-Lee House, as it was known. North across Oronoco are twin houses: 609, where Cornelia (Lee) Hopkins (1780–1818), daughter of William Lee (1739–1795), lived after her marriage to John Hopkins (1795–1873) until her death in 1816, and 607, the last home of Light Horse Harry Lee, and known to the public as "Robert E. Lee's Boyhood Home".
Just across Washington Street is the house built by Edmund Jennings Lee I (1772–1843), younger brother of Harry Lee. Directly south of the Fendall-Lee House, on The Corner of Washington and Princess, is the house built by Hon. Charles Lee (1758–1815), Attorney General, another of Harry's brothers. Charles and Edmund married Lee Sisters, Anne and Sally, daughters of Richard Henry Lee (1732–1794). The Lee-Fendall House is the only Lee family house on Historic Lee Corner that is presently a museum.
Edmund Jennings Lee
After Mary Lee Fendall's death in 1827, Edmund Jennings Lee I (1772–1843) bought the house, and leased it for many years. In 1836, he moved from his home on 428 Washington, across the street, and into the Lee-Fendall House. Edmund was a brother of Light Horse Harry Lee. His wife Sally Lee (1775–1837) was the youngest daughter of Richard Henry Lee (1732–1794), a senator and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Sally died here in 1837, and Edmund continued to live here until his death in 1843.
The Cazenove Renovation
In 1850, Louis Anthony Cazenove (1807–1852), a successful Alexandria merchant, bought the Lee family home for his new bride, Harriotte Stuart, daughter of Cornelia Lee Turberville Stuart and great-granddaughter of Richard Henry Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence. The young couple were joined at the house by Louis' daughters from his first marriage, Frances (1838–1884) and Charlotte Louise (1840–1914), and his father Anthony Charles Cazenove (1775–1852), a French Huguenot immigrant from Geneva. The Cazenoves renovated the home to include the latest styles and technologies. They added Greek Revival and Italianate embellishments to the original 1785 structure as well as the front and back porches and installed the first heating, plumbing, and servant Bell systems in the house.