It's hard to tell in this photo taken in the 90s, but the fate of Aspen Grove was not a pleasant one. Sitting on the fringes of Washington, D.C. in the bedroom community of Fairfax, VA, the acreage was bound to draw attention. And, it did.
A contractor bought the place, planning to knock it down and build up neat stacks of suburban condos. Luckily, the house's important history and some tenacious neighbors managed to save it from the wrecking ball, but in Fairfax's infinite wisdom (did I mention that's sarcasm?) they decided the contractor could knock down the outbuildings and gardens and keep just the house and front boxwood maze intact. Hence this picture that looks deceptively pleasant if you didn't know that the current owners actually own about 25' of land on each side of the mansion and the boxwood maze out front is community property. The front pasture (best sledding in the universe) was divided into two rows of facing condos. The road winds up a covered over Pohick Creek which does not appear to exist to the occupants of this land. It comes up by the huge front English boxwood maze and is greeted in back by more flanking condos that cover up what were two carriage houses and a barn and another English boxwood maze out back. The yard is filled with concrete and towering condos staring down at the antebellum mansion as if they were afraid to look away.
There's a strange interaction now between the old world and new in this yard. It's the greatest travesty I've ever seen. Should I win the lottery, I'd buy them all out, tear it all down and start again with the beautiful grape and wisteria arbors, the apple orchard, the gray barn, and two little cottages that housed lots of George Mason University students over the years. I'd put back the American Boxwoods and the pear tree, the boxwood maze, and the well.
I wonder sometimes if they even bothered to bring an archealogist on site as the grounds there were filled with relics. I wonder if all this modern traffic atop of ancient ground has created a disturbance. Will the memories of the families living there now invade the tragic and anguished history of blood and fighting that had once covered the grounds?
I have to wonder at the person who could be so caught up in profit that he could look at this historic building and beautifully charming southern landscape and say, "I see dollar signs, tear it down!"
As I said, may he rot in hell!