Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
George Washington gave this part of Mount Vernon to his nephew and step-granddaughter, Lawrence and Eleanor Lewis, in 1799. Dr. William Thornton, architect of the U.S. Capitol, designed Woodlawn. Construction of the Federal-style houses occurred between 1800 and 1805. The Lewises relied on the labor of at least 90 enslaved workers to farm Woodlawn's 2,000 acres.
In 1846, the Lewises' son sold the property to two northern families; members of The Society of Friends (Quakers). Ethically opposed to slavery, the Friends and like-minded Baptists established a free-labor colony, successfully demonstrating that profitable farms did not require slave labor. Many members of this free community were descendants of Mount Vernon slaves. During this period, Woodlawn served as a place of worship, a school, and the focal point of the diverse community.
By 1900, the house was abandoned and dilapidated. Twentieth century owners, playwright Paul Kester, heiress Elizabeth Sharpe, and U.S. Senator Oscar Underwood, endeavored to restore the mansion to its early grandeur. These early preservation efforts add to Woodlawn's historic significance.
Erected by U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division; Virginia Department of Transportation; George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens; National Trust for Historic Preservation; Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail; County of Fairfax, Virginia.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Architecture • Churches & Religion • Education. In addition, it is included in the Quakerism ⛪ series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1799.
Location. 38° 43.075′ N, 77° 8.247′ W. Marker is in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker is on Outlet 0.2 miles north of Lampert Road, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 9000 Richmond Highway, Alexandria VA 22309, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Meat House (here, next to this marker); The People of Woodlawn (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Woodlawn (within shouting distance of this marker); Dairy (within shouting distance of this marker); Necessary (within shouting distance of this marker); Pope-Leighey (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Woodlawn Historic Landscapes (approx. ¼ mile away); The Woodlawn Historic District (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Belvoir.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 6, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 11, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 83 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 11, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.