With the Fairfax County Park Authority’s recently announced interest to preserve historic sites and create parkland in and around Tysons Corner over the next 40 years, resident Gene Bacher, 74, wants to remind them —and others— about the history behind his Tysons-area home.
“With so much coming that is new, we should not forget the past,” he said.
Bacher’s home, “Spring Glade” is a log, stone and horsehair-plaster farmhouse that was built around 1840 and is located just a mile and a half as the crow flies from the new Spring Hill (Tysons West) Metro Station, about a mile southwest of Leesburg Pike. The log house with two massive stone chimneys is recorded as a historic site by Fairfax County and is one of just a handful of historic sites in that close proximity to Tysons Corner.
Near the house is an oak tree estimated to be 200 to 250 years old with a circumference of nearly 16 feet. It is registered with the county on its “Big Tree Registry.”
According to the Fairfax County Historic Landmarks Survey, Spring Glade was owned in the 1940s and 1950s by Lisle Smith, an assistant to the Attorney General of the United States. Smith became friends with Harry S. Truman, who visited the home as President of the United States. “It is listed in Truman’s diary entry of Jan. 15, 1950,” Bacher said.
A copy of the diary entry, obtained from the Harry S. Truman Library in Missouri, states: “Bess and I go to a ‘brunch’, whatever that is, at the Smith’s place out in Virginia. They have a lovely place out on the road to Leesburg, about a mile south of the road and seven or eight miles west of Falls Church.”
The home also repeatedly served as the opening site for the Fairfax Hunt and,“… many ambassadors and socialites regularly make the trek to a farm near Vienna, Virginia…to attend the intimate dinner parties hosted by retired Attorney and Mrs. Lisle Smith in their doll-sized farmhouse…,” according to information listed on a 1970 copy of a Fairfax County Division of Planning document.
Bacher, who purchased the home in 1976, says the house originally consisted of just four rooms: two upstairs bedrooms and two downstairs living/dining rooms, each with their own fireplaces, a partial basement and an attic.
“The kitchen was probably in a lean-to or in a separate building,” he said.
The home has since added modern amenities and a few more rooms, but has maintained the character of the original 19th century structure. Many of the original primitive features such as the log walls, heart of pine floors, and the fireplaces remain exposed.
According to the county’s Historical Landmark survey, “…Spring Glade is distinguished by its serene simplicity… (and is believed to be) the only one of its particular design and materials in the county.”
Bacher says today the house serves as a reminder of the Tysons area heritage.
“It is a point of continuity, connecting our roots with the expectations of what is to be the new city of Tysons Corner,” he said. “I feel like we need to preserve the history of this area as it grows into the massive urban development that it is rapidly becoming.”