The Marshall House
General George C. Marshall House
The Marshall House
|Location||217 Edwards Ferry Rd., Leesburg, Virginia|
|Area||4 acres (1.6 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||96000972|
|Added to NRHP||June 19, 1996|
|Designated NHL||June 19, 1996|
|Designated VLR||December 4, 1996|
The Marshall House (formerly Dodona Manor) is a National Historic Landmark in Leesburg, Virginia. It is owned by the George C. Marshall International Center, which has restored the property to its Marshall-era appearance of the 1950s. The Marshall Center has close ties with the George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington, Virginia, where the George C. Marshall Library houses Marshall’s papers.
George Catlett Marshall, who was Army Chief of Staff in World War II, special envoy to China, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and namesake of the Marshall Plan, and his wife Katherine Marshall purchased the property for $16,000 in 1941 and lived there until his death in 1959. Except for a winter home in Pinehurst, N.C., the house was the only home Marshall ever owned, and was the backdrop to quiet conversations and contemplations of international importance. Katherine gave the house and 3.88 acres to her daughter, Molly Winn, in 1960. When Mrs. Winn expressed her desire to sell the property in the early 1990s, several prominent Leesburg citizens under the leadership of B. Powell Harrison were concerned that the property might fall into commercial hands and urged the Town of Leesburg to purchase it. That proved to be impossible, so the citizens formed the George C. Marshall Home Preservation Fund, later the George C. Marshall International Center, and purchased the Marshall House for $2.3 million. After renovations costing more than $4.5 million, the house opened as a museum in 2005. Much of the money for the purchase and renovation was donated by European nations that had benefited from the Marshall Plan. Further funding was provided by grants from the Commonwealth of Virginia, National Park Service (Save America’s Treasures program), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Garden Club of Virginia, and generous private donations.
The house was named Dodona Manor before the Marshalls purchased it. The name derives from Dodona, a shrine in ancient Greece where priests and priestesses interpreted the rustling of oak (and beech) leaves as messages from the gods. Dating from probably the second millennium BCE, the Dodona shrine was considered to be second in prestige only to Delphi.
There is evidence that a two-story house existed on the property in the early 1800s. John Drish, who purchased the property in 1805, added a Federal-style wing in the mid-1820s and gave the property to his son Wilson Drish, who sold it to Fayette Ball, a distant relative of George Washington, in 1855. In 1856, the Rev. Charles Nourse, principal of the Leesburg Academy, purchased it. He tried unsuccessfully to sell it in 1859, and then opened the Loudoun Female Collegiate Institute in the house in 1860, after completing an addition to increase the number of bedrooms. Subsequent owners included Sophia Delany, Joseph and Martha Prather, Wallace and Sally George, Yvon and Ella Pike and Marcia McCann Ely and Northcutt Ely, who sold it to the Marshalls. The Marshall House was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996.
The Marshall House is unique among historic houses because most of the furnishings and memorabilia in the house were owned and used by the Marshalls and were obtained from Mrs. Marshall’s heirs. Detailed plans for the conservation and placement of the collection and for the reproduction of the original floor and wall coverings were developed by Dr. William Seale, a leading expert in the field, and Anne Horstman, who served as executive vice president of the Marshall Center during the restoration. Among the items are originals or reproductions of art given to the Marshalls, including a reproduction of View of Tinherir, painted by Sir Winston Churchill in Morocco in 1951 and given to the Marshalls in 1953.
Another reproduction is Evening, by Russian artist Vassily Baksheyev. The original was a gift to Marshall from Vyacheslav Molotov, foreign minister of the Soviet Union, in 1947 in appreciation for Marshall’s efforts in World War II.
The Marshall House also has an original black and white landscape painted by Soong May-ling, wife of the president of the Republic of China. She and the Marshalls became close friends when Marshall was President Harry Truman’s special envoy to China in 1946–47, and Madame Chiang visited the Marshall House on at least one occasion. Other pieces of Chinese art in the house include a painting by Wen Xuan Dai, a gift from the Chiangs to Katherine on her 64th birthday in 1946, and a fish painting by Tzulu Shen.
For Christmas 1959, only two months after Marshall died, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent a print of his Mount Eisenhower watercolor to Katherine with a handwritten note. Both are on display in The Marshall House.
To protect the views from the Marshall House, the Marshalls purchased eleven surrounding properties that generate revenue to support the organization. The grounds have been restored to their Marshall-era appearance and include a large vegetable garden that was restorative as an antidote to the pressures Marshall felt as Chief of Staff. Katherine delighted in growing roses, and a restored rose garden features the types of roses she cultivated, including the "K.T. Marshall Rose."
The Marshall House in Leesburg, Virginia
- General George C. Marshal House at the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area
- General George C. Marshall House, Loudoun County, Virginia, one photo at Virginia DHR
- George C. Marshall International Center at Dodona Manor