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Venerable LaVue looks healthy after 194 years page 3
Historic LaVue, looking good at 194 years old, is on the market.

 Here's a view of LaVue from the back that shows where the original 1818 house meets the 'L' addition.
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Date published: 9/28/2012


Upstairs in the original portion are three bedrooms, including the master and two secondary bedrooms. A small bedroom was sacrificed to create a master bathroom. The other bedrooms share a bathroom.

The three-story L-shaped addition holds a very interesting room that could serve as a self-contained guest suite. Hidden in one wall is a Murphy bed, while tucked nearby behind closet doors is a unique half-bathroom--a true water closet.

A back staircase provides quick access to the addition's three levels. Down one flight is a space used by Boniface as a home office.

Down one more is the newer portion of the basement, where the kitchen with its original slate floor is located. Through a doorway into the English basement is the day-to-day dining room, which has its original brick floor, as does the adjoining family room. The brick foundation walls are painted and help make the basement comfy and cozy. It stays cool in summer despite being the only level without air conditioning.

In both the current kitchen and the dining area, which was apparently the original indoor kitchen, there are large cooking fireplaces topped with hand-hewn wooden planks.

Altogether there are 12 fireplaces that feed into three chimneys. Two of the fireplaces have been converted to use gas.

Among the remarkable aspects of the house is its storage space. The rooms all have their original closets, rare in a home of this vintage. Boniface said she learned that the early owners left the doors off the closets at first so they wouldn't be taxed as additional rooms, as was the custom in those days.

Boniface has had additional built-in closets and shelves crafted for the home, all designed in keeping with the look of the original trim and woodwork.


The home's brick exterior is a blend of Flemish bond on the front of the house and American five-course bond on the sides and rear. The more expensive Flemish bond was typically used where it was more visible. There are vertical brick arches over the windows. Boniface said the exterior walls are five bricks thick; the interior walls are four bricks thick, covered in horsehair plaster on lath. Some original plaster was lost to last year's earthquake.

The hip roof is painted standing-seam tin, replaced after the previous roof was damaged in the 1996 tornado.

The acreage surrounding the house is laden with features, both man-made and natural.

A modern but rustic-looking guest or tenant house is nearby and is currently occupied by Boniface's daughter and son-in-law. Other outbuildings include a six-stall horse barn, a turnout paddocks, an equipment shed and the original well house.

Along with the 20-plus acres of fields--which Boniface mows herself--there is a large stocked pond.

Closer to the house is a lovely formal garden with pebble paths surrounded by 8-foot boxwoods. It was the site chosen by Boniface's two daughters for their weddings.

Richard Amrhine: 540/374-5406
Email: ramrhine@freelancestar.com

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On a nearby hill a short distance from the house is the Alsop family plot. It is filled with gravestones dating back to the late 18th century. There are Alsops galore there--including James, William, a couple of Johns, Elizabeth, Martha, Mary and Sue.

The property was home to five generations of the Alsop family; the last member of the family to live there was the wife of Herman Swanson, who died in 1972 and is interred in the mausoleum he had built adjacent to the graveyard.

Swanson and Olive Alsop were married at LaVue in 1919. She was a direct descendant of Thomas Royston, who, with John Buckner, received the 1671 land grant on which the city of Fredericksburg would be built.

A gate to the plot refers to Prospect View, the name given to the property for a period of time. Current owner Carole Boniface brought back the name LaVue.

She also brought back LaVue itself during her 25 years of ownership. It had fallen into neglect between Herman Swanson's death in 1972 and the Boniface purchase in 1987.

--Richard Amrhine