If you follow Brent Point Road in Stafford as far as it goes on the Widewater Peninsula, you come to the property known as Cedar Lodge. No surprise there, given the avenue of cedars that leads to the house and the others that are all around.
This is where Aquia Creek meets the Potomac River. Brent Point and Simms Point share the tip of the peninsula paradise, where bald eagles seem to thrive—there’s a pair soaring over the water, and another one proudly perched on an osprey nesting platform.
This is also where Capt. John Smith sailed and mapped the area’s creeks and rivers starting in 1608, and where the story of Pocahontas unfolded at nearby Marlborough Point, where she was kidnapped in 1613.
But it wasn’t until 1790 that the initial portion of what would be called Cedar Lodge was built, and over the next 80 years would be added onto twice to become the structure it is today. Over time it would be visited by three U.S. presidents and lived in for several months by a Civil War general.
In 1983, after being vacant and neglected for a few years, Herb and Diane Harmon came upon the property.
“It wasn’t really what we were looking for, but we fell in love with it,” Herb Harmon said during a tour of the property earlier this week. He and Diane were looking for a weekend getaway place on the water, and Cedar Lodge certainly had the water part covered.
Diane Harmon explained that roof issues had allowed some water infiltration. “We had to do some modernizing and fixing,” she said, which is something of an understatement. One thing was evident from the beginning—they would have to replace the old metal roof with upgraded shingles before other interior work could be done.
The couple proceeded to do a lot of work on the old structure, making it a great place for family retreats over the past 35 years. But now they’re looking to lighten their maintenance load and consolidate their lives at the condominium they own in Alexandria.
They’ve listed Cedar Lodge with Kevin Michael Breen of Coldwell Banker Elite in Fredericksburg. The asking price is $1,569,222.
The house has nearly 5,300 square feet of living space on two levels with six bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a half-bath. It sits on a 10.7-acre lot with 650 feet of shoreline frontage at the confluence of Aquia Creek and the Potomac.
The property is billed as the perfect place for a bed & breakfast and wedding venue, but it is in any event the sanctuary from the daily grind that the Harmons found it to be. As the sales brochure suggests, this is “where history and tranquility meet.”
It’s unclear who built Cedar Lodge, but the land was once owned by the British Brent family, who had come to Southern Maryland in 1638 and moved across the Potomac to the Widewater Peninsula in 1646, according to a history compiled by the Harmons. Brent family descendants sold some of the land they held to the Moncure family.
The original house built in 1790 was a simple, wood frame 2-over-2 affair. In 1810, what is now the center portion was built as a two-story addition that included several more rooms. It was in this configuration that Union Gen. Joseph Hooker occupied the house during the brutal winter of 1862–63.
After the Civil War, the property was sold to the Peyton family, which raised horses there and used it as a hunting lodge. In 1870, the Paytons added the “new wing”, which ends in a round, turret-like structure.
That addition included what may have been the first attached kitchen, since it has a huge, 12-foot cooking fireplace with its original wrought-iron pot crane. That space has since become a main-level great room. The addition also included a third stairway and two more bedrooms upstairs. As indoor plumbing came along, space was made for four indoor bathrooms. A full bathroom on the main level was converted to a powder room by the Harmons.
The house was in that final configuration when it was visited by Presidents Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley between the 1880s and the turn of the century. All three were known as avid hunters and fishermen.
Word has it that when Mrs. Peyton was widowed, she gave the Cedar Lodge property to her stable boy, Jake Brooks, who had a wife and five children. His eldest daughter, Ellen, returned to the property in the 1950s and did extensive work on the house. After she died in 1983, her estate’s executor, the National Bank of Fredericksburg sold the property to the Harmons.
Among the Harmons’ major projects was redoing the kitchen, which had begun to sag on its foundation. The structure was lifted while a new foundation, plumbing and other utilities were installed. The kitchen was then updated with new counters, cabinetry, appliances and Brazilian cherry flooring.
Other rooms include a living room, formal dining room and a pantry that provides lots of kitchen storage space. There’s a large screened-in porch that provides panoramic views of the water.
The Harmons had a new mini-duct air conditioning system installed that didn’t require the installation of typical large duct work. The registers are small, unobtrusive holes high on the walls. Baseboard hot-water heat is fueled by a new propane-fired furnace.
All of the home’s windows were replaced by the Harmons, then upgraded again with high-efficiency versions. The electrical system also was upgraded to a 400-amp system. The original pine and oak floors were refinished and look great.
The house has a total of five wood-burning fireplaces, all of which have new flue liners and are ready to use.
The largest single project was the pool house, which was designed by Diane Harmon. The large glass building has four power glass-roof doors that give the pool the feel of the outdoors. The heated building also houses a full bathroom and changing room.
A brick path leads to the shoreline and a dock with a boat lift attached. On the opposite side of the house is a four-car garage with shed or storage area. Other outbuildings include a 1909 Sears outhouse (with sales receipt provided) and a restored smokehouse. There’s also an outdoor shower that’s a relatively new addition.
A 16 kilowatt emergency generator powers everything in the house during a power outage, except for air conditioning.
The Harmons expect to leave many of the furnishings.