Leesburg in Loudoun County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
In 1804, George Carter focused his substantial resources on wheat production and construction of a mansion at Oatlands. A scholar and astute businessman, Carter likely designed the house himself, possibly with the help of builders and pattern books. Enslaved people dug up clay from local riverbanks to mold and fire bricks for a three-story structure with a basement and cupola. Both enslaved people and paid laborers worked on the house until the mid-1830s, adding side stairwells removing the cupola, applying stucco to exterior brick, and building an impressive two-story columned portico. The finished house showcased elements of Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival architectural styles.
After purchasing Oatlands in 1903, Edith and William Corcoran Eustis made only a few changes to the mansion. They added a porch to the north facade, moved the second floor staircase, and combined two small bedrooms into one large room. In family correspondence, they often referred to the mansion as "Oatlands House." Because of their preservation efforts, the mansion still remains true to George Carter's vision for his home.
The Carter family's fortunes declined following the Civil War. Beset with debt, George Carter Jr. and his wife, Katherine Powell Carter, operated Oatlands first as a girls' school and later as a summer boarding house. Eventually, they sold the house and grounds in 1897 to Stilson Hutchins, one of the founders of The Washington Post newspaper.
George Carter, 1844.
George Carter's inheritance in 1798 was unusual for the time period and his social class. Although he inherited 3,400 acres from his father, Robert Carter III, George did not inherit enslaved people because of his father's change in belief about the institution of slavery. In 1791, Robert Carter III filed the Deed of Gift which gradually emancipated over 500 enslaved people at his plantations throughout Virginia. Sadly, he lived to see his son hold people in bondage. By 1801, George Carter was calling his lands "Oatlands", basing the plantation and milling operations completely on the use of enslaved people.
Elizabeth Osborne Carter, c. 1847.
A wealthy widow, 39 year-old Elizabeth Osborne Lewis married 58 year-old George Carter in 1835. They had two sons, George Jr. and Benjamin. After her husband's death, Elizabeth O. Carter remained at Oatlands until part way through the Civil War. Her diary is a great
Oatlands, c. 1890.
This sweeping landscape captures Oatlands at the turn of the century; in disrepair and uncertain of its place in the new era. The Eustis family saw potential in the old house and grounds. By 1903, they began improvements to make it their country estate.
Erected by Oatlands Historic House & Gardens, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Architecture • Arts, Letters, Music • Industry & Commerce • Natural Resources • Women. A significant historical year for this entry is 1804.
Location. 39° 2.442′ N, 77° 37.054′ W. Marker is in Leesburg, Virginia, in Loudoun County. Marker is on Oatlands Plantation Lane, 0.4 miles south of James Monroe Highway (U.S. 15), on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 20850 Oatlands Plantation Ln, Leesburg VA 20175, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Enslaved Community (here, next to this marker); The Greenhouse (within shouting distance of this marker); The Bachelor's Cottage (within shouting distance of this marker); The Walled Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); The Smokehouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Reclaim Your Story (within shouting distance of this marker); The Garden Dependency (within shouting distance of this marker); The Carriage House (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leesburg.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 9, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 9, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 63 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 9, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.