Tucked away among all of the traditional homes, both old and new on Fort Belvoir stands a home that isn’t like any of the others. Just as the Lustron homes on Quantico were a response to the US Government’s need for quick delivery homes after WWII, the Thermo-Con house on Fort Belvoir stands as a reminder of the Army’s attempt to use alternative building materials in the 1940’s.
Situated next to the traditional Cape Code homes of Gerber Village, the Thermo-Con house looks more like Frank Lloyd Wright’sPope-Leighy House just a few miles down the road than it does its traditional brick neighbors.
The house derives its name from the material that was used to create the home a mixture of “Portland cement, water and a patented formula of mineral origin.” Completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1949 it was one of only two buildings built on Fort Belvoir from this material. The second building has been destroyed.
The home was added to the Virginia Landmarks Registry in 1997 and is currently used as a guest house. With the new housing being built at both the North and South Post of Fort Belvoir, including the Platinum LEED Certified Fairfax Village Community Center it is nice to see something a bit different still standing as a testament to the resources of the Army Corps of Engineers. It was an idea and building material ahead of it’s time. Today the idea of building anything but a well insulated and moisture resistant home just wouldn’t be considered.