As is the case with so many historic Fredericksburg homes, the history of the property is as interesting as the house itself. This story includes information gathered under the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and thorough research by Janet Edson, who in 2000 compiled a comprehensive history for the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation’s marker project.
After John Allan subdivided Allan Town in the 1750s, the land on which 401 Hanover St. and neighboring homes would be built had a succession of owners, including Charles Yates, Daniel Grinnan and John Welford, who sold the lot for 401 Hanover to Eustace Conway, a local lawyer.
Conway built the original house for his wife and children in 1851. By 1857, he was dead at age 37, and his widow sold the house to Elizabeth Fitzgerald in 1860. Three years later Fitzgerald sold the house to businessman S. Warren Slaughter, who ended up renting it to his brother, Montgomery Slaughter, who was mayor at the time. The mayor’s downtown home had been destroyed by Union troops as they entered the city in December 1862.
The next owner was Joseph Fickin, followed by St. George Fitzhugh, who owned it from 1883 to 1928 and oversaw the construction of the third story and the side addition. Also during Fitzhugh’s ownership, in 1900, President William McKinley visited the house with his Cabinet while in town for a meeting of the Society of the Army of the Potomac. Hundreds gathered around the house to see and greet the president.
The J. Minor Holloway family then owned it until 1984, when investors Hunter Greenlaw and Henry Browne bought it and divided it into five apartments.
When they bought 401 Hanover in 1996, Kenneth and Mainette Loff were committed to returning the property to single-family residence status. The sensitive restoration was completed in 1998 and the couple moved in. The house was on HFFI’s Candlelight Tour in 2000 and on the Garden Week tour in 2002.
—Richard Amrhine Free Lance Star