George Washington Papers

Agreement with William Halley, 20 February 1786

Agreement with William Halley

February 20th 1786

I have this Day agree’d to pay for the Use of Genrl Washingtons House and Lott in the Town of Alexandria (lately occupy’d by Doctr Wm Brown) for the Term of one year from this Date Forty Pound Specie, to Fence in the Lott with a Good and sufficient Fence either of Post and Rail or Plank, to cleanse and repair the drain leadg from the Cellar and Glaze the Windows of the said House.

William Halley

I promise to see the above engagement fullfil’d.

Alexandr Smith

DS, DLC:GW. It is in the hand of Lund Washington.

Dr. William Brown, grandson of Dr. Gustavus Brown, came to Virginia in 1770 from the University of Edinburgh, where he received his medical training, and settled in Alexandria. Beginning as early as November 1783, he rented for £40 per annum the house that GW had built in 1769–71 at the corner of Pitt and Cameron streets in Alexandria (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 119, 185; see also GW to Brown, 24 Nov. 1785). Brown advertised in the Alexandria newspaper on 6 April 1786 that he had moved his medical practice into his new house between Duke and Prince streets in Alexandria. When Brown left, William Halley rented GW’s house for “one Year & 12 days”; he paid the last of the £41.12 in rent that he owed in July 1787 (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 239). On 25 Nov. 1788 GW wrote his nephew Bushrod Washington: “If you could accommodate yourself in my small house there (the one in which Doctr Brown formerly lived) you shall be very welcome to the use of the Rent free till you can find a more convenient one.” After George Augustine Washington’s death in 1793, his widow, Fanny Bassett Washington, moved with their two sons and daughter from Mount Vernon into GW’s house at Cameron and Pitt streets and lived there until her marriage to Tobias Lear in August 1795. GW left the house and lot to Martha Washington at his death. In Michael Miller’s Pen Portraits of Alexandria, Virginia, 1739–1900 (Bowie, Md.), he mentions (p. 41) this advertisement which appeared on 7 Feb. 1857 in the Alexandria Gazette: “It is only a few months since a frame building, on Cameron Street, which was built by Washington and used by him for an office, when he was in town, was torn down.”

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