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NVCT Protects Historic Property Once a Centerpiece of McLean

Updated: Feb 28, 2022

Press Release

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2022


Aaron Kershaw, Communications Coordinator

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust / (703) 354-5093, ext. 103

An eight-acre Civil War-era Fairfax County property known as Elmwood recently became the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust's 129th conservation easement. This beautiful estate in McLean was once the centerpiece of a homestead that spanned from the Potomac River to the center of McLean. Built by the Ball family of Virginia, Elmwood was most recently the home of the distinguished television journalist Roger Mudd, whose family lived in the house for nearly half a century.

Fairfax County Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust shared his excitement for preserving the historic property.

"We are very fortunate that the Mudd family chose to put in place measures that will conserve the natural and historic character of Elmwood for generations to come. On behalf of our community, I express our deepest appreciation to the Mudd family for this generous act. I also thank the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust for all it has done over many years to conserve properties that are valuable natural assets as well as critical parts of our history."

Elmwood's historic estate hosts sweeping lawns, magnificent legacy trees, and landmark structures ranging from its circa-1876 log-hewn "Bachelor's Hall," an 1879 "Guest House," and the distinctive 1905 white clapboard house that provides a unique island of calm within bustling urban McLean.

"What the Mudd family has done in forever protecting this unique piece of our region's history is truly remarkable. At a time when so many beautiful places in Northern Virginia have been lost to the pressures of development, nature and history will live on and thrive at Elmwood," said NVCT Executive Director Alan Rowsome. "It's an incredible legacy to leave."

In keeping with Mr. Mudd’s wishes, the family has elected to preserve the property’s historical, natural, and scenic character, ensuring it will remain intact rather than be subdivided like so many other significant semi-rural properties in the area. Elmwood is currently listed for sale for $8 million, presenting a rare, generational opportunity to own a significant property inside the Capital Beltway and just minutes from the nation’s capital. The NVCT conservation easement allows for expansion, renovation, restoration and modernization of the main house and other buildings, as long as the home’s historic character remains unspoiled.

"Our mother and father adored Elmwood," said Matthew Mudd. "The work they put in to restore, preserve and beautify the buildings and grounds made it a magical home for our family and an unforgettable place to welcome their friends for square dances, touch football games, weddings, baptisms, and holidays. They would want nothing more than to know it had been preserved so that future generations can fall under its spell."

Elmwood was part of a large land grant dating back to 1724 that passed from the Turberville family to members of the Ball family from the early 1800s through the start of the Civil War. The original home was destroyed in the War, and William Selwyn "Selly" Ball returned afterward to build the structures still on the site today. The Ball family continued to own Elmwood until the 1930s. Two other families, the Magills and Paysons, owned Elmwood until the Mudds purchased the property in 1972.

The Mudds restored the Bachelor's Hall and the Guest House, adjoining the latter to the main house, and preserved the house's plank floors, raw-beamed ceilings, columned porches, and many fireplaces. As a result, Elmwood is listed on the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites.

Others in the community lauded the conservation action, citing the property as one of the best the area has to offer. "We're delighted that it's been protected," said Carole Herrick, President of the McLean Historical Society and member and former chair of the Fairfax History Commission. "It's an important story that the property offers us to the history of McClean, a story that goes back well before the Civil War."

NVCT is proud to have protected Elmwood as a flagship conserved landscape in Fairfax County. The organization now stewards 50 natural areas totaling over 630 acres that have been safeguarded to connect critical wildlife habitat and the region's history.

"When you stand in this place, you get a sense not only of an earlier era but of the long line of people who have cared for this land," said NVCT Conservation Director Matt Gerhart. "Both in times of strife and times of plenty, Elmwood has stood literally atop the hill as a prime example of living, breathing history. We look forward to working with future stewards of this special place."


The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) is a regional, nonprofit land trust that forever conserves, manages, and advocates for land that has natural, historical, and cultural value to our Northern Virginia communities. NVCT works with conservation partners, local governments, and private landowners to preserve, restore and steward the land in Northern Virginia. Since its founding in 1994, NVCT has protected over 8,000 acres in urban and rural areas. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter and Facebook

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