Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

199-0003 Bell House

Bell House
Photo credit: Elizabeth Lipford/DHR, 2021

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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 03/17/1987

NRHP Listing Date 09/21/1987

NRHP Reference Number 87000692

Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, owned this riverside summer cottage in the Westmoreland County town of Colonial Beach from the time he inherited it from his father, Alexander Melville Bell, in 1907, until in 1918 when he deeded it to his private secretary, Arthur McCurdy. The elder Bell, a distinguished British elocutionist, purchased the house as a retreat in 1886, following his 1881 move to Washington, D.C. Although the younger Bell normally summered in Canada, he made visits here during his thirteen years of ownership. Local tradition has it that Bell experimented with kites or “flying machines,” launching them from the balcony here. The house was built ca. 1883 for Col. J.O.P. Burnside. It is a classic example of Stick Style residential architecture, a style popular in the northeast but relatively rare in Virginia. The Stick Style is characterized by its use of various lumber elements for decorative effects.

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

Updated: November 18, 2021