Walnut Hill Estates in Rockville hit the market for $2.6 million

The Walnut Hill manor house with its front-column portico anchors the 40-acre property in southwest Hanover County. (Photos courtesy of CVRMLS)

Six years after buying it for $1.5 million, a retired tobacco executive is asking $1 million more for the 40-acre Walt Hill Estate in Rockville, once home to the late Harwood and Louise Cochrane.

Jim Starkey, a retiree of Richmond-based tobacco giant Universal Corp., put the country manor house and estate up for sale Wednesday, asking $2.65 million.

The list went live on Wednesday afternoon, with episodes scheduled to begin on August 31.

Starkey listed the property with Jeff and Marian Donahue of Long & Foster. The husband-and-wife team, out of the broker’s Grove office, has represented Starkey in numerous deals over the years, including the 2016 purchase of Walnut Hill and the sale of his former home on Riverside Drive.

Jeff Donahue said Starkey and his wife, Judy, are returning to the city after six years of farm life.

The property was once part of a 450-acre farm owned by Harwood and Louise Cochrane.

“Jim is now in his early 80s, and Judy wants a little more social activity,” he said. “There are a few roads in Rockville, and those are big estates. You see the neighbors once in a blue moon, she said.

Jeff Donahue

Starkey bought Walnut Hill for $1.5 million and has since invested in improving the property. Donahue said the high price tag is representative of those improvements, including a new garden implement shed, a remodeled interior, brick walkways and a drained pond.

“You did an amazing job with it. The sculptures in that house were incredible. Some of the colors were missing, so Judy brought the palettes back to today’s colors.” Donahue said. “The pond was a mess. Jim spent about $60,000 and put in a second pond that gets sediment, so the 1 acre pond is now nice and deep.

Hanover County He appraised the property at $1.4 million, compared to a 2016 appraisal of $963,700.

Walnut Hill, at 12428 Walnut Hill Drive in southwest Hanover County, is part of a 450-acre farm once owned by the Cochrans, one of Richmond’s most philanthropic couples and former board members and major donors to the Virginia Museum of Art.

The interior has been redone with a new color palette.

Harwood Cochrane founded Overnight Transportation, which he sold to UPS in 1986 for $1.2 billion. In the year He died in 2016 aged 103, six months after Louise died in late 2015.

The Cochranes donated the farm to VMFA, which partnered with real estate firm Midlothian Enterprises to develop the land as a residential community.

In the year Built in 1954, the 6,000-square-foot Greek Revival manor house was completely renovated in the late 2000s and features millwork left over from Long Branch Plantation, a 19th-century home in Clarke County.

The two-story brick home, fronted by a columned portico, includes five bedrooms, six full bathrooms and three half bathrooms. The owner’s suite includes a fireplace and laundry room, and the wood-paneled closet includes a fireplace and temperature-controlled wine room.

A two-bedroom guest house and pool complete the property, which is northwest of Short Pump and includes frontage on the South Anna River.

Improvements to the grounds include brick walkways and the planting of a garden.

Donahue said they are marketing the property with updated photography and drone video footage. The listing also gets additional reach through Long & Foster’s recent tie-up with Forbes Global Properties, the business media company’s residential real estate arm that provides marketing services to a select network of brokers.

“We get some national exposure through that,” Donahue said. “We’re definitely going to be doing some special work through Long & Foster. Long & Foster Grove does a lot of high-end features, so word of mouth is already out that this is going to be active.”

“We know where to put it to get the action,” he said. “This is a great property that will attract some interest.”

Walnut Hill joins other million dollar listings in the area that have some history behind them.

In Varina, Altria retiree Anthony Owen is looking for a buyer for his Eberhard Pond property. LIt was $4.3 million in May and then dropped to $4.25 million.

In west Henrico, a 10,000-square-foot Fairfield home is for sale for $3.3 million, about half of its original 2018 listing.

And the Ellen Glasgow House in downtown Richmond is listed for $2.1 million, down from a $3.5 million discontinued auction sale.

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