City Viewwas cited as a significant residence on an 1878 map generated by the Library of Congress (see note 1). This original Civil War era farmstead "City View I" built by Benjamin Barton burnt to the ground on Sunday, March 10, 1918 (click for more images). The value of the frame house was listed at $10,000.
W.F.P. Reid Sr. having recently married Sallie K. Pickett, began the planning and groundwork to rebuild "City View II" on the same tract of land located on the west side of Richmond Highway in Groveton. The house can be seen in several aerial views on the previous web pages.
City View I , circa 1900, (Click pic for more images)
City View II construction was completed by 1920 as mention of many visitors to City View were formally acknowledged and announced in the Fairfax Herald. Entrance to the house was from Route 1. A gravel driveway passed through two concrete columns and led to the front of the house and circled around to the rear.
The City View II house was visually massive and a prominent landmark on US Route 1. The architectural style was Greek Revival with the footprint of the main house measuring 105 feet wide by 45 feet deep. The 25 room mansion was built on a foundation that consisted of peripheral footings supported with interior brick piers. There was a partial full height cellar accessible from the inside only that was used for storage.
Alexandria Gazette, 1954
The mansion had three full stories plus a fourth story enclosed observation room. The observation room, like that of Gunston Hall's, was a typical architectural feature of large estate homes of the time. In later years, City View's observation room was removed from the house and replaced by a weatherproof deck and railing. Access remained available through the original staircase and new storm proof hatch.
Fireplace in City View paino room
Three fireplaces were located on the first floor, the second and third stories were heated with wood burning stoves. Later a major renovation occurred that converted the fireplace heat source to a coal burning boiler furnace for radiator heat. The boiler was located in the cellar and coal was supplied through a cellar window.
The front of the 25 room mansion had four large wooden columns and the roof was standing seam metal. Lightning arresters were attached to all roof peaks. Three sides of the house had a sweeping concrete porch and concrete steps. In the warm months, the porch would have large potted palms, rocking chairs, and a ceiling mounted swing.
Front Veranda CITY VIEW
The main entrance to the house was through an arched doorway that led to a large hall with 12 foot ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and a wooden 13 step staircase leading to the upper stories.
Unique to the floor plan was a landing that allowed access to the dining room and to allow a full size parlor room on the north side of the house. The first floor had 2 parlors, a large dining room, large pantry, half bath, and kitchen. A solarium flanked the south side of the house where Mrs. Reid raised the palm trees and other plants that filled the property.
The second story had 5 bedrooms, 4 full baths, and 1 Master Bedroom Suite with full bath. The third story had 6 more bedrooms and a staircase leading to the observation room and later observation deck.
Northeast Parlor Fireplace -- CITY VIEW
Recently discovered photo of the City View Mansion Solarium --- 1933
The City View mansion and rental cottages were serviced by water pumped from a deep well housed in a three story structure pictured at right. A very large electric pump provided adequate supply that was charcoal filtered at the mansion. The top floor of the wellhouse provided a favorite secluded playhouse for the many children who lived or visited Beacon.
WFP Reid at wellhouse
Guests and tenants enjoying the City View grounds.
John Hager -- World War I Aviator and Franklin Reid Father-in-Law
A magnificent panoramic view from the observation room took advantage of the high elevation on which City View was built. Distant views of Washington DC, Montgomery County, Fort Washington, Oxon Hill Manor, Alexandria, and the Potomac River made the observation room a very popular location. Those lucky enough to have this exhilarating experience described a cooling breeze and brilliant energizing sun.
W.F.P. Reid frequently
entertained local and international politicians, socialites, and
dignitaries at his City View home. Judge George K. Pickett and Ulysses
S. Grant II were frequent visitors. Arthur Godfrey had a standing reserved room on the third floor.
The mansion was torn down when the popularity of the small airport era came to an end. (see Vanishing Airfields and History pages).