The Colchester Inn is located near Old Colchester Road. Colchester was a thriving seaport on the Occoquan River in the eighteenth century, especially for tobacco exporting. The town fell into hard times by the 1790s after a fire destroyed many of its buildings and the harbor silted up. The merchant ships headed up the Potomac River to another town, Alexandria, which became one of the busiest seaport of its time. Colchester has essentially disappeared over time, and the Colchester Inn is one of only two buildings left from the town's heyday.
The Colchester Inn is constructed in a simple vernacular style in a rectangular plan of only 25 by 32 feet. The building is wood frame, 1-1/2 stories, with twin entrances. The gable roof has twin hipped dormers on each face. Alas, the two chimneys are not twins though they may have once been - the west one is built of stone and the other begins as stone and tops out as brick. The house is on a sloping lot so the stone foundation is taller on the downslope side. Owners in the late 1930s removed a wooden stoop entrance on one side and replaced it with a poured concrete porch along the length of the house. A vestibule has been added to the rear door, as well as an asphalt shingle roof, gutters and downspouts.
An Englishman named John Davis was living across the river in the town of Occoquan while tutoring the Ellicott children. Davis wrote a book about his travels in America from 1798 to 1802, and mentioned enjoying being treated royally while enjoying this tavern's food and drink. Davis raved about the building's luxurious carpeting, large mirrors, and ice-chilled Madeira.
The building was documented in 1937 and 1959 by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). The house served as a summer home for the 1959 owners, the Robert V. Duncan family from Alexandria.
The Colchester Inn was listed as a Virginia Landmark in 1973, when it already was over 200 years old! Six years later, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, when it again was owned by a Thompson family. The building is significant for the eighteenth century in the areas of architecture, commerce, communications, and transportation. The building is privately owned and has not been sold since 1976.