Six years after buying it for $1.5 million, a retired tobacco executive is asking $1 million more for the 40-acre Walnut Hill estate in Rockville that once was the homestead of the late Harwood and Louise Cochrane.
Jim Starkey, a retired vice president of Richmond-based tobacco giant Universal Corp., put the country manor house and estate up for sale Wednesday with an asking price of $2.65 million.
The listing went live Wednesday afternoon, with showings scheduled to start Aug. 31.
Starkey listed the property with Long & Foster’s Jeff and Marianne Donahue. The husband-and-wife team, out of the brokerage’s Grove office, have represented Starkey in multiple deals over the years, including his Walnut Hill purchase in 2016 and subsequent sale of his previous residence on Riverside Drive.
Jeff Donahue said Starkey and his wife Judi are moving back to the city after six years of farm life.
“Jim’s in his early 80s now, and Judi wants a little more social activities,” he said. “Rockville’s a little ways out there, and those are big estates. She said you see the neighbors once in a blue moon.”
Starkey purchased Walnut Hill for $1.5 million and has invested in upgrades to the property since then. Donahue said the higher price tag is representative of those improvements, including a new garden potting shed, reworked interior, redone brick walkways and a dredged pond.
“They’ve done an amazing job with it. The moldings in that house were unbelievable. Some of the colors were off, so Judi brought the palettes into today’s colors,” Donahue said. “The pond was a mess. Jim spent about $60,000 dredging and put in a secondary pond that’ll get silt, so the 1-acre pond is now beautiful and deep again.”
Hanover County has assessed the property at about $1.4 million, up from its 2016 assessment of $963,700.
At 12428 Walnut Hill Drive in southwestern Hanover County, Walnut Hill was once part of a 450-acre farm owned by the Cochranes, one of Richmond’s most philanthropic couples and former board members and major donors of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Harwood Cochrane founded Overnite Transportation, which he sold to UPS in 1986 for $1.2 billion. He died in 2016 at the age of 103, six months after Louise died in late 2015.
The Cochranes had donated the farm to the VMFA, which partnered with real estate firm Midlothian Enterprises to develop the land as a residential community.
Built in 1954, the 6,000-square-foot Greek Revival manor house was fully renovated in the late 2000s and features millwork saved from Long Branch Plantation, a 19th-century estate in Clarke County.
The two-story brick house with a columned portico on the front includes five bedrooms, six full bathrooms and three half-baths. The owner’s suite includes a fireplace and walk-in closet, and a wood-paneled rec room includes a fireplace and temperature-controlled wine room.
A two-bedroom guest cottage and a pool complete the property, which is northwest of Short Pump and includes frontage along the South Anna River.
Donahue said they’re marketing the property with updated photography and drone video footage. He said the listing also would receive additional reach through Long & Foster’s recent association with Forbes Global Properties, a residential real estate arm of the business media company that provides marketing services to a select network of brokerages.
“We’ll get some national exposure through that,” Donahue said. “We will of course be running some specials through Long & Foster. Long & Foster Grove does a lot of the higher-end properties, so word of mouth is already out that this was going to be coming active.
“We know where to put it to get the action,” he said. “That’s a great property that will attract some interest.”
Walnut Hill adds to other multimillion-dollar listings in the area with some history behind them.
In Varina, Altria retiree Anthony Owen is seeking a buyer for his Eberhard Pond estate, listed in May for $4.3 million and since reduced to $4.25 million.
In western Henrico, the 10,000-square-foot Fairfield mansion remains for sale at $3.3 million, nearly half its original 2018 listing.
And the Ellen Glasgow House in downtown Richmond is listed at $2.1 million, reduced from $3.5 million following an aborted auction sale.