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The fascinating history of CIA headquarters’s oldest building

Get to know Margaret Scattergood, Florence Thorne, and the Calvert Estate

An aerial view of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Virginia.
An aerial view of the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Built in 1926, the Calvert Estate is the oldest structure on site.
Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

From Curbed’s best reads on trailblazing women designers to the New York Times’s belated obituaries for extraordinary women they overlooked, lots of amazing stories were surfaced yesterday for International Women’s Day. But as Women’s History Month rolls on, you shouldn’t miss a gem of a tale shared by the CIA, of all places, about two remarkable women and one historic house.

Yesterday the CIA published a feature on Margaret Scattergood and Florence Thorne, two women who were heavyweights in the American Federation of Labor in the early- and mid-20th-century, making significant contributions to advancing women’s rights in the workplace and child labor laws. For over 50 years, Scattergood and Thorne were also owners and residents of a 1926-built Georgian Revival house on a quiet 20 acres in Northern Virginia. Dubbed the Calvert Estate, the 5,000-square-foot house would eventually become part of the grounds of the CIA, who made for an unusual neighbor and future steward of the historic home.

Check out the CIA’s tweet thread below for a bite-sized telling of the story, or head here for all the details.