A HIDDEN HOME OF DOS PASSOS
Spence's Point, the author John Dos Passos's home for much of his life from 1949 until his death in 1970, is a simple yet beautiful early-19th century home on the Potomac River in Westmoreland County. Listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register, the National Register of Historic Places, as well as receiving designation as a National Historic Landmark, the property remains a private residence for the Dos Passos family. The author's daughter and her family inhabit the revered dwelling. Set back from the street in quiet Westmoreland County, the house is on beautiful acreage fronting the Potomac. Dos Passos's daughter Lucy Coggin recalled her mother doing all the typing for her father, who would give interviews to all kinds of people in the home. The house functioned somewhat as a neighborhood library, and Dos Passos's books (as well as many of his father) still line the shelves at Spence's Point.
It is easy to see how a magnificent piece of property such as this would have provided the author with inspiration and, perhaps more importantly, a good quiet setting for his writing. Author of several books including the experimental U.S.A. trilogy, Manhattan Transfer and One Man's Initiation: 1917, Dos Passos also wrote extensively of his various travels throughout the world.
As it is still a private residence, Spence's Point is not open to the public. It would seem appropriate, however, to somehow commemorate the author whose presence helped the property obtain National Historic Landmark status. A highway marker could easily perform such a task, and do so at a distance (along Route 749) respectful of the family that still counts the house as a home.
Virginia Landmarks Register
February 20, 1973
National Register of Historic Places
National Historic Landmark
November 11, 1971