Hampton Inn Col Alto Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Celebrate with us this year in beautiful, lively Lexington.

The Col Alto mansion was constructed as a four-over-four classical revival structure in 1827 for James McDowell, who would later become Governor of Virginia (1843-1846).  He named the estate “Col Alto,” which is Italian for on the high.  At the time, it was the only structure on the east side of Lexington, VA, with unobstructed views of the Town of Lexington (est. 1778), as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains.

A few short years after Governor McDowell’s death, his daughter Sophonisba Breckinridge McDowell and her husband Colonel James Wood Massie purchased the home.  Colonel Massie became a professor at Virginia Military Institute, where he participated in the rebuilding of the school after Hunter’s Raid.  As homeowners, the couple contributed significantly to the current structure of the mansion, constructing the first addition to the home, which consisted of two large bedrooms and the prominent elliptical staircase.  After Colonel Massie’s death, Col Alto was sold to Judge James N. Lea of New Orleans, who completed the construction project.

Years later, Henry St. George Tucker owned Col Alto.  Tucker was a graduate of Washington & Lee School of Law, and would go on to be a Virginia Congressman, a Professor of Law at his alma mater, the President of the American Bar Association, the Dean of Law at what is now George Washington University, and a Virginia Congressman, once again, before his death in 1922.  While living at Col Alto, Tucker made many improvements to the building, including the first interior bathroom, an indoor kitchen on the first floor, and a stairway to the attic.

Col Alto was purchased by Tucker’s daughter, Rosa Tucker Mason, who made Col Alto her home for 29 years, where she enjoyed entertaining and accommodating guests.  She hired a New York architect to add exterior guests’ rooms, Chinese Chippendale railings, and columns.  She hired her good friend, and first woman graduate of Harvard Law School of Landscape Architecture, Rose Greeley, to add flowing formal gardens, beautiful maples, lake state white cedars, and boxwood hedges to enhance Col Alto’s beauty.

In the late 1950s, the estate became the property of Washington & Lee University.  It was used over multiple decades as student apartments and storage, until later purchased by the current owners, who have restored the mansion to its original splendor, making it the anchor and guest reception area for a unique Hampton Inn property, established in 1997.

Today, Col Alto boasts 10 historic guest rooms, all of which are named after prominent people and places in the life of Col Alto, including: the McDowell Room, the Stonewall Jackson Room, the VMI Room, the Washington & Lee Room, the George C. Marshall Room, the Robert E. Lee Room, the Generals Room, the Keydet Room, the Rose Greeley Room, and the Corinthians Room.  Each room is as exquisitely unique as the people and places from which their names derive.  Some include gorgeous wall-mounted portraits.  Others include beautiful fireplaces. In addition to the 10 Historic Manor Rooms, there are 76 traditional Hampton Rooms, some of which have balconies overlooking the center courtyard and conference space that can accommodate up to 200 people.

Share in the history and legacy of Col Alto by celebrating 20 years of hospitality with Hampton Inn Col Alto this spring.  And, while you’re here, enjoy all that Lexington has to offer, all within walking distance from the Hampton Inn Col Alto. To book your trip, visit us here or call (540) 463-2223.


Hampton Inn Col Alto Staff Picks for Lexington


1. Treat yourself at Lexington’s Semi-Annual Restaurant Week, March 6-12, a week-long celebration of food from local downtown restaurants and retail shops. Facebook.com/LexVARestaurantWeek

2. Experience the 2017 USIBA Boxing Nationals, March 23-25, which will be held at Virginia Military Institute.  This three day event will highlight the intensive training and impressive skills of over 150 intercollegiate boxers from schools all across the country. CollegeBoxing.org 

3. If you have never seen the VMI Full Dress Cadet Parade, you need to add it to your things to do this spring. Starting around 4:30 in the afternoon, head up to the VMI Parade Grounds and watch as the entire corps of cadets March in regularly scheduled full-dress parades throughout the academic year. A special full-dress parade is held each May 15 to honor the cadets that fought and died during the Battle of New Market in 1864. This truly patriotic event is a unique Lexington experience. Calendar.VMI.edu 

4. Hop on the Chessie Trail for a leisurely hike. The Chessie Nature Trail is a seven-mile, year-round public access walking trail, located along the former Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad right-of-way.  Enjoy breathtaking rural Virginia. Then, go back to Col Alto and relax in the outdoor pool. TrailLink.com/Trail/ChessieNatureTrail

5. If you want to try another trail on for size, the Woods Creek Trail is a beautiful, shaded trail about two miles long that passes through land owned by the City of Lexington, Washington & Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute. WLU.edu

6. Enjoy live bluegrass music every Wednesday morning from 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. at Blue Sky Bakery on Lee Avenue. (540) 463-6546

7. Stop at the Shenandoah Attic Gift Shoppe on Main Street for complimentary cider, hot or cold, depending on the season. ShenandoahAttic.com

8. Order a wafflewich from Brew Ridge Taps, in addition to a sampler “hike” of fine Virginia beers. BrewRidgeTaps.com

9. Visit Blue Lab Brewery to enjoy excellent local beer and to experience live music and games in a fun atmosphere. BlueLabBrewing.com

10. Jam out to more local music (with good food and great brews, of course) at Friday’s Alive in Davidson Park all summer long. LexingtonJaycess.org/events

11. Support local farms at the Wednesday morning farmers' market on North Jefferson Street. Bring your fresh finds back to Col Alto for a picnic on the plush, expansive lawn. Facebook.com/LexVaFM

For even more suggestions for things to do in Lexington, ask a friendly Col Alto team member! Click here or call (540) 463-2223.
June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum