The Carlyle House, completed in 1753, was the residence of one of the 18th-century Alexandria's leading citizens—John Carlyle—a prosperous merchant and landowner.
1. Although the earliest known engraving of the Carlyle House appeared in Harper's New Monthly in 1890, it showed the house at an earlier time. The simplicity of the landscaping in front is in keeping with the style of the mid-18th century. The large pointed trees are either Lombardy Poplars or Cedars planted on a lawn reserved for functional activities. The lack of shrubbery, especially as foundation plantings, is also typical of the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The flanking outbuilding on the right was Carlyle's kitchen. In the southern colonies, kitchens were in a separate building to keep the smoke, heat, and odors of cooking away from the main house and to lessen the danger of fire. The kitchen stood approximately where the Law Building is today.
The left outbuilding was Carlyle's office and counting room for his extensive mercantile operations. Attached to the left of the office were a store and a warehouse along Fairfax Street approximately where the 1807 Bank of Alexandria now stands.
—Carlyle House. Harper's New Monthly, February 1880. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
2. Toward the rear of the Bank of Alexandria was the site of other Carlyle outbuildings such as the stable, coach house, necessary, smokehouse, dairy, and storage sheds. This plan, drawn from a 1796 insurance policy, shows the relative locations of the outbuildings.
—Assurance policies of William Herbert, March 1796, Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia. Courtesy of The University of Virginia, Alderman Library. Composite drawn by Donald Stumpf.
The front plantings and interpretive signs are gifts from The Garden Club of Virginia —R. J. Favretti, Landscape Architect.