The Women Who Became the CIA’s Unlikely Neighbors

The women shared the land with the CIA for 53 years.

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Margaret Scattergood and Florence Thorne purchased the four-story Georgian Revival home in McLean, Virginia, in 1933. The dubbed it "the Calvert Estate," a tribute to Thorne's lineage. They had been living in the home for 15 years when the U.S. government started buying property around the home for federal use.
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The women decided to be proactive, reaching a settlement with the government. The government could buy the property for $54,189, but the women would live in the home until their deaths. Once both women died, the government would take over the property, the CIA said.
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Scattergood and Thorne hoped the Federal Highway Administration would be their only neighbors, but the CIA was quickly running out of room at its temporary offices in D.C.
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The CIA soon began building its new headquarters in the women's backyard, and in 1961, the first employees moved in.
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Thorne used her new neighbors to her advantage, asking the CIA to speed up the processing time for a visa for a trip overseas. Margaret was a little more skeptical, the CIA said. She used her money to contribute to antiwar causes and lobbied Congress to cut the country's intelligence and military budgets.
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Throne died in 1973 at the age of 95, leaving Scattergood alone in the large home. Concerned for her safety, Harry Fitzwater, the CIA deputy director for administration, had security officers check on her as a part of their routine patrols.
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On Thanksgiving, Fitzwater delivered a ham to Scattergood, and on Easter, he gave her a roasted turkey. Other officers would stop by to help her with yard chores and grocery shopping.
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Scattergood died in 1986 at the age of 92. After her death, the CIA acquired the land. For the next 15 years, the home was used by CIA Security Protective Officers and their K-9 units. The home was a shadow of its former self, and the new head of facilities was instructed to tear it down. But he loved the home and wanted to restore it.
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In 2003, the house underwent a complete restoration. The home is now a state-of-the-art conference center, and its attic houses a collection of museum artifacts.
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There's also a discreet tribute to Scattergood and Thorne inside the home. A square cutout in the ceiling reveals the original wood frame of Calvert Estate, just as it stood when Scattergood and Thorne were alive.
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