Salona is a piece of land in McLean, Virginia and derives its name from the 1805 homestead associated with the site. Facing Dolley Madison Boulevard, Buchanan Street, and Kurtz Road, Salona is a 52-acre site, of which the homestead and grounds consist of 7.8 acres.
Salona has quite the history, in fact, it is significant on not only a local level but state and national levels as well. To start, the Salona homestead property was acquired through marriage by Henry Lee, Robert E. Lee’s father and governor of Virginia in 1791 who also went on to serve two terms in Congress. The brick manor on the property was constructed back between 1790 and 1810 and is currently undergoing renovations.
Salona was also significant during the War of 1812. When British troops attacked Washington, D.C. in August of 1814, President James Madison and his wife, Dolley, were forced to flee. Although the two became separated, President Madison and Dolley were reunited at Salona and received hospitality there. Today, Route 123 is known to the locals as Dolley Madison Boulevard because of this.
From October 1861to March 1862 during the Civil War, Salona, owned by Jacob Smoot, and surrounding properties were occupied by Camp Griffin. The mansion served as the headquarters for General William Smith and other Union commanders. The property was also a working farm before the Smoot family decided to begin selling acreage in 1947. Beginning in1953, Clive and Susan DuVal started purchasing the property in stages and later arranged for the preservation of the house and property. Today, the DuVal family still retains about 3 acres of the 52-acre site.
The Salona homestead and grounds are protected in perpetuity by a 1971 easement to the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, and under a new conservation easement that will be enforced by the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, an additional 41 acres will be protected as well. The new easement allows for the preservation of natural and cultural resources on the property, 10 acres of which will be placed in active recreational use, such as trails. The easement also prevents any new residential construction on the property and gives the Park Authority the right of first refusal to acquire the property of Salona outright.
Several years ago, the county released a draft master plan for Salona, which tried to be all things to all people and called for things such as athletic fields, a dog park, playgrounds, picnic areas, and other educational, historical, and environmental features. In 2011, Fairfax gave the plan over to a Task Force which was charged with reaching out to the community and getting recommendations for the park. While McLean’s population is growing, some people believed that Salona is not the place for things such as athletic fields or dog parks because the historic home sits nearby and the county has the opportunity to prevent the disappearance of such a historically significant piece of land. If any plans do end up being made for Salona, the must preserve the sense of what makes the property so special.