The origins of Mount Air date back to 1727 before the United States was an independent country.
Major Dennis McCarty was the first to live in Mount Air after claiming a 522-acre parcel of land from Lord Fairfax.
A house was known to have existed as early as the 1730s but was subsequently destroyed by fire.
The first Mount Air Plantation House was built prior to 1806.
It was partially destroyed by fire and rebuilt on the same foundations in 1859, where it was remodeled several times until 1992, where the remains of the last house are now located. The history of the plantation is quite crucial in the development of southern Fairfax County.
Major McCarty was appointed sheriff in 1728, Justice of the Peace in 1729, and a representative in the House of Burgesses for the newly formed Prince William County in 1731.
On March 25, 1742, Dennis McCarty died and was buried on the plantation grounds. Mount Air Plantation was left to his wife in his will, which was then deeded to their oldest son, Daniel McCarty. The land included Mount Air Plantation and 1,003 acres in Loudoun County.
By 1851 The Mount Air plantation was 1,071 acres, but after a fire in 1859, the acreage shrunk to 809. The latest house on the property was rebuilt on the existing foundations that same year.
The final family to live on the plantation was Mrs. George (the feminine form of “Georges”) Shirley Kernon before she moved to Oklahoma in search for land.
In 1984 the Board of Supervisors approved the recommendations to make Mount Air a Historic Overlay District within Fairfax County.
The overlay district was created to:
- Protect against the destruction of the historic and architectural quality of the landmark
- Encourage its uses which would lead to its continuance, conservation, and improvement
- To assure that new uses within the district would be in keeping with the character to be preserved and enhanced
The approval was finally achieved because Mrs. Elisabeth Shirley Enochs, the last owner of Mount Air, sold a 38+ acre parcel to a developer to build townhouses. With the Overlay District in place, the developer was severely limited to the number of houses and the style that could be built on the land.
Construction of the 182 townhomes began in 1986 and completed in 1989.
There remains a large buffer of natural trees and forest to protect the remaining 25 acres of the estate.
An architectural description of the property was completed in 1970 with the assistance of Fairfax County Heritage Resources.
“Mount Air is Greek Revival in style. The main section has three stories, with a balancing room arrangement and dimensions. The white clapboard siding on the exterior is seemingly contemporary except for that on the east end of the kitchen it appears to have boards of larger size. On the north front, the columns supporting the portico were previously set on brick piers, with no porch. The porch was already in use by 1914 although the wooden steps have since been replaced by brick.”
Only a few weeks after the death of Mrs. Enochs the house was destroyed by a fire of unknown origin on May 19, 1992. The structure was fully engulfed when firefighters from both Fort Belvoir and Fairfax County responded and the firefighters had to lay over one-half mile of hose to the remotely located building.
The house was completely destroyed with the exception of the brick foundation walls, chimney, fireplaces, and several portions of the columns. Several of the outbuildings remain. The remaining parcel from the Mount Air plantation was sold to the Van Metre Development Corporation soon after for development into a single family residential community.
There are plans to preserve and incorporate the ruins of the mansion into a natural setting park, currently being coordinated with the Fairfax County Park Authority.