Demolition began this weekend on the 70-year-old Broyhill mansion in the Donaldson Run neighborhood.
The lengths to which some have gone to oppose it, including allegedly impersonating a photographer and stealing tile today (Monday), has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the owners.
The 10-bedroom home at 2561 N. Vermont, near the Washington Golf and Country Club, went on the market last November for $3.6 million after the previous owner died and the beneficiary, the Catholic Prelature of Opus Dei, decided to sell it to a residential buyer, the Falls Church News-Press reported.
As of January, the only interested buyers were husband-and-wife duo Mustaq Hamza and Amanda Maldonado. They purchased the home — described on Redfin as a “jewel [that] unfolds like a diamond necklace” — f0r more than $1 million under asking price, with the intention of knocking it down and building something more suitable for family life.
“The house was built for entertaining, not for raising a family,” Maldonado told ARLnow this morning.
Some however, are upset to see it go. On Saturday, Hamza said people shouted profanities and walked onto the property and demanded materials be set aside.
“That’s not what we expected when we were trying to plan,” he said, adding that now, he and his wife are doing some “soul-searching.”
“Our intention coming here to build the house for our family seems predicated on the fact that this was a nice neighborhood to raise our children in and stay forever,” he said. “It seems not to be the case, and disappointed as we are, we’re open to having been wrong.”
Unwanted visitors — flouting signs saying “private property” and “danger” — continued on Monday afternoon, when ARLnow photographer Jay Westcott was taking photos of the demolition.
When Westcott arrived, he met a man impersonating a photographer, who announced he was “here to take the pictures.” In addition to a camera, he wore a fluorescent vest, a hard hat and a K95 mask, and left in his red Prius with, Hamza says, historically unremarkable tiles and air filters. He says he is considering filing a police report.
The couple insists that the home is not the historical marvel it has been made out to be. They have preserved items inside and given them away if people requested them, the couple said.
“There’s nothing architecturally stunning about the house — it’s a 1950s replica,” Maldonado said. “There’s nothing in the house that can’t be purchased today. We looked to see if there was anything worth preserving and anything that there was, we saved.”
Northern Virginia home builder Marvin T. Broyhill Sr. built the mansion in 1950 after making his fortune building the classic 3-bedroom brick homes that could be bought for $20,000 during the post-World War II housing boom, according to the neighborhood conservation plan for Donaldson Run.
When it was time to build a home for his family, M. T. built his 9,775 square-foot home on the property, as well as homes for his sons Joel and Marvin nearby, according to articles written by historian and Falls Church News-Press contributor Charlie Clark.
Broyhill spared no expense, per the flowery description on Redfin. It describes curved staircases and abundant chandeliers, an “exquisite formal living room and dining room,” two kitchens and a kitchenette, a breakfast room and an afternoon solarium, home office, Jack-and-Jill bedrooms with a private balcony, built-ins, a ballroom and an indoor sauna — all connected by an elevator.
The home hosted religious retreats, cotillion dances and fundraisers for Joel Broyhill, a Republican congressman who held office from 1953 to 1974.
Last week, in response to news of the impending demolition, Jeanne Broyhill — a prominent philanthropist, the granddaughter of the original builder and daughter of Rep. Joel Broyhill — told Clark her grandmother and father are “rolling over in their graves.”
For Hamza and Maldonado, that history is not one to lose sleep over. Broyhill’s son Joel opposed the integration of schools, which was a mainstream view at the time. The couple, who are of Sri Lankan and Puerto Rican descent and met at Howard University, mused his father likely would not have wanted to sell a home to people who look like them.
They view the rumors, among neighbors, that they will redevelop the property with multifamily housing — newly allowed by the Arlington County Board — with the same skepticism.
“They don’t believe two minorities can buy a lot for $2.5 million and build another single family house,” Maldonado said. “They believe we’re going to flip it and build a bunch of condos.”
If the couple build anything it will be a new single-family home, they say, but after the last month they are not sure if neighbors want them there.
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The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.