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Bank forecloses on historic Fauquier estate

Friday, Jun. 14 | By Joey LoMonaco
This 1862 photo, shows Melrose Castle – then known as Castle Murray, with troop tents outside. The castle was occupied by both Confederate and Union forces during The War Between The States. – Fauquier Times-Democrat File Photo
The ghosts that roam its halls include opposing American armies and Fauquier County’s resident Gatsby-esque partier of the Roaring '20s. Its trappings inspired a mystery novel penned by the “American Agatha Christie.”

Now Melrose Castle, a 9,600-plus square foot home in the 8800 block of Rogues Road in Casanova is under bank ownership, as are the 50 acres surrounding the historic structure.

A set of real estate transfers released last week by the Fauquier County Circuit Court Clerk’s office lists the home and its surrounding land as being transferred to SunTrust Bank under terms of foreclosure. It’s valued at nearly $2.1 million.

According to the Fauquier Historical Society, two Scottish brothers – the Murrays – arranged for its construction in 1856. James Murray dubbed it “Melrose” after the identically named abbey in his native land.

In 1862, when Edward Murray left to join the Fauquier Guard, a local contingent of the 49th Virginia infantry, the castle was abandoned. It wouldn’t be for long.

Like many local buildings, Melrose Castle was converted into a hospital by Confederate forces.

Later, when Union soldiers under Gen. Alfred Pleasanton controlled the area, they made use of the large tracts of land surrounding the castle for troop encampments.

Pleasanton’s Yanks left behind one of the castle’s most prized trinkets – an inscription written by a Union Lt. Geo W. Steeli on a wood cabinet inside the home.

The cabinet survived the test of time and is currently housed at the Old Jail Museum on Ashby Street in Warrenton.

The inscription, ostensibly addressed to the absent homeowner, reads,

“Dear Sir, I think you would have saved the destruction of your beautiful house by remaining at it. I am much pained to see so fine a place destroyed. Yet I presume you think it none of my business neither yet. My desire is that all good citizens shall enjoy their homes, of course you do not fall under the above either.”

But the estate wasn't destroyed. And after playing a role in our nation’s bloodiest war, Melrose Castle was about to become a footnote in its literary canon.

(For the complete story, pick up Friday's edition of the Fauquier Times-Democrat)
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