Col Alto

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NRHP Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number


One of the several large early residences surrounding downtown Lexington, Col Alto was completed in 1827 for James McDowell, governor of Virginia from 1847 to 1849. The design of the Classical Revival structure is attributed to Samuel McDowell Reid, an amateur architect who was McDowell’s cousin. Typical of the region’s early high-style houses, Col Alto employs generously scaled classical detailing set off by fine brickwork. In 1898 Col Alto was purchased by Henry St. George Tucker, dean of the Washington and Lee University Law School and later acting president. Tucker also served in Congress from 1921 to 1932. Tucker’s daughter, Rosa Tucker Mason, who acquired Col Alto in 1932, commissioned the New York architect William Lawrence Bottomley to design a striking Palladian-style veranda. Mason also commissioned landscape architect Rose Greely to design the grounds. By the end of the 20th century, Col Alto property had become part of an inn complex.

Last Updated: March 26, 2024

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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