Monday, February 8, 2016

11 fun facts about Oatlands Plantation

Out in Loudoun County is Oatlands Plantation, a historic home that is deeply connected to early American history. Located in Leesburg, the property operates as a museum and historic site and can also be rented for special events. It is a beautiful home and the gardens are spectacular. 

Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg Virginia
Front view of the mansion

Not familiar with Oatlands? If not, read on, it has an interesting history.

11 fun facts about Oatlands Plantation

1. Oatlands Plantation was established as a farming property in 1798 by George Carter, it had about 3,500 acres. Carter, a descendant of the famous Carters, the family that was one of the very first to settle in Virginia from Europe, had inherited the land. His ancestors had arrived in 1649 and his father was Robert "Councillor Carter" the III, grandson of Robert "King" Carter.

2. Carter began construction of his magnificent home in 1804 and his plan was to build a classic Federal-style mansion. However, he changed his mind in the midst of construction, deciding to go with a Greek Revival style. The home took decades to complete as the post-recession after the War of 1812 took Carter’s attention away from investing in his new home. 

Rear view of the main house

3. Oatlands was completed in 1835. This was the year Carter also finally married at age 58, wedding a widow named Elizabeth Grayson Lewis. The couple had two sons together. 

4. Carter passed away in 1846. Elizabeth and her sons managed Oatlands, but the Civil War brought hardship to the family. Oatlands had been run using slave labor and the plantation ceased to operate as it had in the past. Carter was a strong believer in slavery, while his father ("Councillor") had fought against it. 

5. Over the years Oatlands operated as a girls’ boarding school and then was converted into a bed and breakfast.

6. In 1897 the Carters sold the home to Stilson Hutchins, the man who founded the Washington Post. Hutchins never lived at Oatlands and only owned the property for a few years. 

7. William Corcoran Eustis and his wife, Edith Livingston Morton, a wealthy couple from Washington, D.C., bought the property from Hutchins in 1903. William Eustis used the home as a vacation property and was an enthusiastic horseman. He also loved fox hunting and held events at his new home.

Standing in front of the mansion looking beyond across the beautiful land

8. Edith Eustis was a good friend of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, having grown up together in New York. FDR was a frequent visitor to Oatlands.

9. Edith made it her mission to restore the once elaborate gardens at Oatlands. She paid a lot of attention to detail and brought many modern designs into the garden. Visitors today can see the hard work she put into her restoration. Edith passed away in 1964 and her children donated the home and gardens to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg Virginia

10. The original greenhouse still stands on Oatlands’ property. It is the second oldest greenhouse located in the United States and the oldest one in the South, according to Oatlands. A bachelor’s cottage, built in 1820, also remains. The greenhouse is open for visitors, but not the bachelor's cottage.

Oatlands' greenhouse was built in 1810.
11. In May 2014, Oatlands announced it had acquired 54 adjacent acres to the main property. This property, called "Oatlands Hamlet" was originally part of the plantation and contains two historic stone houses. One of the homes is believed to have once served as a dairy and was later converted to a house by Anne Eustis (daughter of William and Edith). 

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about Oatlands. If in the Northern Virginia area, I would recommend a visit, especially if you enjoy history and architecture. To learn more about the property and tips for visiting, I have an earlier blog post that shares additional info and photos.  


  1. A beautiful post. I used to go to Oatlands church growing up, and I remember Rev. Elijah White. Down the road from Oatlands is "Oak Hill"- home belonging to James Madison.

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting!
      I'll have to look up Oatlands church and learn more about it. If it's the same church I'm thinking of, I pulled off the road a few years back to take some photos of it.

      I've been to Ash-Lawn Highland a couple of times and have seen photos of Oak Hill - sure would love to see the inside of that home.