The Ashford-Newlon House (301 Clifford)

301 Clifford in 1970, close to its original appearance. The side portion of the porch added by the Newlons was removed, probably in the 1960s.

The Ashfords Arrive
Among the very first purchasers from Wood Harmon were Jefferson and Edna (nee Cockrell) Ashford. Virginians, they bought St Elmo lots 255 and 256 on 9 May 1894, when they were 32 and 25 years old, respectively. He was a mail clerk and apparently it paid fairly well for they immediately put up a handsome two-story house that is now 301 Clifford. The house had three bedrooms upstairs, and living room, parlor, dining room and kitchen downstairs.  In March of 1896 they purchased two additional lots (St Elmo 257 & 258) to the west of the property, giving a wide side yard. Perhaps this was inspired by the expansion of family at the same time. They had started out with sons Linden (born 1892) and William (1894) and then added daughter Edna V. (1896).

 They raised their family at 301 Clifford, and even bought eight more vacant lots in St Elmo in 1903, but apparently opportunities were greater in DC. Jefferson and Edna had noted that a three-story, eight-room brick house had come on the market on Bryant St NW in early 1911 and by mid-year the seller was showing signs of desperation. They purchased the property, but tragically Edna passed away in February 1912 at only 48 years old, less than a year after moving into the new property. Jefferson and the children continued to live in DC, with Linden taking time off for the Army in 1917-1919, and by the mid-1920s Jefferson had become a floor manager for Woodward & Lothrop, Linden an architect for the same store, and William a lawyer. It seems likely that by the early 1930s Jefferson's health had declined and he wanted to return home. In 1933 he and his second wife Henrietta purchased a house on Lloyd's Lane and decamped there along with son William, but in November 1934 liver cancer finally proved fatal at age 74. Henrietta and William continued to live on Lloyd's Lane into the 1950s.

Farmers & Teachers
 In 1912 Thomas Gayle bought the house at 301 Clifford1, along with three of the vacant lots directly behind the house (now 300 Hume) from the Ashfords. Thomas was a farmer with a large family from King George County and presumably intended to grow fruit trees on the open lots. His wife Lillian briefly taught at West End High School, and daughter Francis (“Fannie”) taught at the Mt. Vernon Avenue School just up the street. Fannie's last year was the 1915-1916 academic one, for which she was paid $57.17 per month, about mid-range for teachers there. In 1916 the county Board of Supervisors used eminent domain to purchase the 60 westernmost feet of his property to create Turner Road.

 Thomas had left the rest of the family down on the farm while he, Lillian and Fannie tried their hands in Alexandria, but they threw in the towel after five years and headed back south. He held onto the property, however, until selling it July 1919.

1The initial street numbering, in the mid-1920s, assigned the house the number 303. The renumbering of the late 1930s changed it to the current 301.

Twenty Three Years

The new owners were Thomas and Elizabeth Newlon. Thomas was an antique dealer and furniture maker who ran his store on North Fairfax Street, while living on Prince Street; she was a member of the large Sowers family of Berryville.

At that time Thomas was 54 and Elizabeth 56, had three children; Richard, a 29-year-old accountant, 25-year-old Eva (a typist) and 20-year-old Katherine (a clerk). Richard had already moved out to DC, but the two daughters moved to St Elmo with their parents. They stayed there until 1924, although Eva did not move far, she moving into the house of her new husband, carpenter Walter Hogan, on East Glebe Road.

 They expanded the front porch on the house in the 1920s, wrapping it around the east side to about half-way back. They are also probably the ones who covered the house with bricktex (an asphalt siding to simulate bricks) later on.

A newspaper photo of Walter Newlon inspecting a 1796 trunk that he discovered in 1925.

Walter's business was successful, including supplying to Henry Ford in 1929, and he moved to 525 Duke Street in 1930. He finally retired in 1935 and shuttered the store.

 They took out a mortgage on the house in September 1931 for $2,000 and refinanced in November 1934, raising the principle to $2,500, with another $300 added in May 1935.

 Late on a Saturday night in mid-May 1936 Walter was crossing Richmond Highway (US1) near Potomac Yards on foot when he was struck by a car driven by 21-year-old John Harrell of DC. The police chased down and arrested the driver, but the 70-year-old had suffered a broken collar bone, a possible rib fracture and lacerations.

 This probably exacerbated Walter's health problems, as he was suffering from heart disease and arteriosclerosis. Senility thereafter complicated things and he passed away of the heart disease in September 1942. They had already conveyed the property to daughter Katherine in September 1941, subject to the $2,500 mortgage. Elizabeth moved to Lee Highway in Fairfax shortly thereafter and she passed away from a stroke in May 1948. In March 1949 Katherine, by then divorced, sold the house to Mescal Bartlett, using an $11,755 mortage. In January 1950 Bartlett sold it back to Katherine, who turned around and sold it to Warren and Kathleen Pfeiff in April.

The beautiful 301 Clifford in 2005. Note the absence of the bricktex and restoration of original siding.