Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Colross-Alexandria's Urban Phoenix
Alexandria Heritage Trail
Colross's owners included some of Alexandria's most prominent citizens. Jonathan Swift -- merchant. diplomat, and lodge brother of George Washington -- occupied Colross until 1824. In the 1830s, Thomsen Mason (grandson of George Mason of Gunston Hall) stylishly renovated the property, which had been used as a military boarding school. Mason, who died in 1838, was buried in a brick vault behind the house, although the vault later was removed and the remains re-interred elsewhere. William Smoot, a merchant who bought the property in the 1870s, continued t maintain Colross as an elegant oasis at the edge of a rapidly growing city.
After World War I, Colross's fortunes declined, when new owners divided the property. They constructed a warehouse on the northern half of the block, and used theold mansion as a boarding house for workers at The Virginia Shipbuilding Corporation. In 1927, a tornado ripped through the western end of Alexandria; among the casualties was the once-proud home of the Swift, Mason and Smoot families.
When investigations at Colross began in 2004, the chances of finding
But like the legendary Phoenix, Colross had not altogether disappeared. As backhoes removed layers of modern rubble, details of the block's historic landscape slowly emerged, the complex foundations of the main house basement, the original kitchen for the house, enclosed herringbone brick floors, a well, floor drains, multiple rooms and four massive fireplace bases. West of the house, an area of brick paving defined a courtyard where stables once had stood, and the foundations of Mason's office wing emerged east of the main house. A large domed cistern, also added during the Mason period, provided the household's water supply for much of the 19th century. To the north, where gardens had once bloomed, lay the empty base of the Mason family burial vault. Even the brick piers that supported the early 20th century warehouse were intact.
The investigations undertaken at Colross demonstrated, once again, the power of archeology to document a seemingly irretrievable chapter of our past.
Erected by Diamond Properties LLC in cooperation with the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, Office
Location. 38° 48.647′ N, 77° 3.057′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Oronoco Street and North Fayette Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. The marker is in the courtyard northeast of the intersection. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1111 Oronoco Street, Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. War, Rails, and Wells (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Robert Robinson Library -1940 (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Memorial Pool (approx. 0.2 miles away); Parker-Gray High School (approx. 0.2 miles away); Home of Edmund Jennings Lee (approx. 0.3 miles away); Washington-Rochambeau Route (approx. 0.3 miles away); Lee-Fendall House (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Lee-Fendall House (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
Also see . . .
1. Colross. Wikipedia (Submitted on March 17, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
2. Colross. (PDF) Archeological Investigations, Suzanne L. Sanders, 2012. (Submitted on March 17, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
3. Alexandria Heritage Trail. (Submitted on March 18, 2014.)
Categories. • Man-Made Features •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 17, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 739 times since then and 38 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on March 17, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.