Finding the Febrey Homestead

Dublin Core


Finding the Febrey Homestead


The history of Arlington's Febrey family.


An overview of the Febrey family and the various properties they owned in Arlington.


Charles S. Clark


Arlington Historical Magazine


Arlington Historical Society


February 2015


Public Domain

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Herewith a discovery about one of Arlington's stalwart land-owning
families from the 19th-century.
In 2015, my schoolmate John Taylor shared a remarkable boyhood
memory. Back in the 1960s, at an old house two doors from his in the Overlee
Knolls neighborhood, he once ducked into a shed and saw a rusted bolt with
chains attached to a wall. Some kind of shackle, he says.
That tall, high-ground white frame house at 2210 North Madison Street
was tom down in 1989. But neighbors had long described it as a onetime Civil
War hospital that belonged to one of Arlington's key early landowners, Nicholas
Febrey. Tantalizingly, Febrey was also rumored to have been an illegitimate son
of someone in Virginia's prominent Lee family.
The patriarch Nicholas Febrey (born Oct. 3, 1800, died Jan. 6, 1868) became one of Arlington's wealthiest landowners when, beginning in the 1830s,
he bought about 600 acres in the area called Washington Forest. Much of the
land was sold to him by his friend George Washington Parke Custis, builder of
Arlington House. (For the location of the spread, think today's Swanson Middle
School, Dominion Hills, Glencarlyn, Upton Hill, and BJ's Wholesale Club.)
Nicholas married into the famous Ball family (twice, due to widowerhood) and produced three sons, two of whose stately homes stand today--one
at Wilson Blvd. at North McKinley Street, and the other on Powhatan Street.
These Arlington families played a major role in property divisions, slavery,
community leadership and intra-familial divisions during the Civil War.
The prominence of the F ebrey clan through three generations prompted me
to follow John Taylor's recollection to identify the site of the original farmhouse
belonging to the patriarch.


Charles S. Clark, “Finding the Febrey Homestead,” Mapping the Civil War in Arlington, accessed July 13, 2024,

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