A rarity on the river


By Iyna Bort Caruso

When a home designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright is used as a guest house and not the main residence of an estate, you know you’ve entered rarified territory.

Welcome to The Falls. In the Washington, D.C., power suburb of McLean, Virginia, the 3.2-acre estate stands above, overlooking the Potomac River. The setting is equal to the main residence itself—a palatial home of sprawling entertainment spaces, private wings, vistas from every angle, and surprises at every turn.

The Falls is named for the estate’s location on arguably the river’s most breathtaking and dynamic stretch of waterfalls and rapids. The drama is dawn-through-dark. At night, floodlights illuminate the Potomac. And beyond the sights are the soundscapes. “With the falls comes a wonderful sound, an ambient sound you only get from the water crossing over and spilling down on the rocks,” says Mark C. Lowham, CEO and Managing Partner of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington, D.C. “It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to replicate the position of the home on the river given the current permitting process,” he says.

Property ID: 252W35

The Falls, Virginia

Property size: 3.2 acres

Interior: Combined 48,900 square feet Includes: Main Residence,

Marden House, Gate House

Amenities: 30-car garage, elevators, gym, infinity pool, tennis, wine room, outdoor kitchen, and media room

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In 1999, AOL co-founder James Kimsey purchased the land in this Gold Coast neighborhood of McLean that lies inside the capital beltway, just a bridge away from Washington, D.C.

Kimsey would go on to purchase a fish-shaped, three-bedroom house on an adjacent site, the Marden House. Named after the original owners, National Geographic writer and photographer Luis Marden and his wife, Ethel, the home was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright—one of his very few houses in Virginia. Kimsey painstakingly rehabbed its flagging retaining walls, water-damaged surfaces, and collapsing roof, all the while keeping it faithful to its original character. He used the restored architectural jewel to house guests and to host intimate gatherings. To this day, river views from an 80-foot expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows never fail to awe visitors.

Awe is the reaction visitors also have to the main residence Kimsey built for himself. The approximately 25,505-square-foot home is designed for both privacy and for epic entertaining. The Falls is widely known in prominent circles for “hosting some of the most interesting events in Washington,” Lowham says. Kimsey, who died in 2016, “loved to entertain in really grand ways.”

Kimsey had tapped the talents of interior designer Thomas Pheasant, dubbed the “Dean of American Design.” Pheasant’s high-profile projects include Blair House, the president’s guest house. For Kimsey’s residence, Pheasant included custom-made metal doors, light fixtures, and furnishings.

Property ID: 252W35


Property ID: 252W35 |

TTR Sotheby’s International Realty


Mark Lowham, 703-966-6949,

Russell Firestone, 202-271-1701,

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Past a gated entrance and separate gatehouse, the three-story home reveals itself slowly from the long driveway. It’s a hideaway in plain sight that serves up a resort lifestyle: tennis court, wine room, garden pavilion, media room, cigar room, outdoor kitchen, infinity pool, and spa. Whatever the activity, a Potomac River backdrop is never far from view.

In fact, from the living room that’s nearly two stories of glass, the view incorporates the rushing river, infinity pool, and the Wright-designed house.

Rriver views from an 80-foot expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows never fail to awe visitors.

Rriver views from an 80-foot expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows never fail to awe visitors.

There are six guest suites, an underground parking garage with room for 30 vehicles, and a master wing “designed so that the owner can host people but still feel separate and secure,” says Russell Firestone, vice president of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. The master suite offers fob-entry to a library, office, massage room, his-and-hers bathrooms, and a gym. It is accessible by private elevator. Not surprisingly, the bedroom features a balcony that overlooks the river.

The home is considered by many to be the finest estate ever offered in the Washington region. “It has had an illustrious history so far, and there’s certainly more to come on that front,” Lowham says.

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