Oak Hill (James Monroe House)

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Oak Hill
Oak Hill (James Monroe House), front view (1915).jpg
Front view of Oak Hill, 1915
Oak Hill (James Monroe House) is located in Virginia
Oak Hill (James Monroe House)
Nearest city Leesburg, Virginia
Coordinates 38°59′50.85″N 77°37′13.45″W / 38.9974583°N 77.6204028°W / 38.9974583; -77.6204028Coordinates: 38°59′50.85″N 77°37′13.45″W / 38.9974583°N 77.6204028°W / 38.9974583; -77.6204028
Built 1808
Architect James Hoban
Architectural style No Style Listed
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 66000842[1]
VLR # 053-0090
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Designated NHL December 19, 1960[3]
Designated VLR September 9, 1969[2]

Oak Hill is a mansion and plantation near Leesburg, Virginia that was for 22 years a home of James Monroe, the fifth U.S. President.

History[edit]

Rear view, 1915

The main mansion of the property was constructed in 1822 for Monroe, who subsequently split time between this estate and another home at Monroe Hill on the grounds of the University of Virginia after his term as President. Oak Hill was Monroe's only residence for three years, from 1827 to 1830, and it was one of his residences during 22 years. The mansion was built in 1820, during Monroe's presidency. Before that, Monroe's residence at the estate was the clapboard building known in recent years as the Monroe Cottage.[4]

The architecture is distinctive for "its unusual pentastyle portico".[5] It is suggested that Thomas Jefferson, his close friend, may well have drawn plans for Oak Hill; the construction was supervised by James Hoban, designer and builder of the White House.[4] Aside from the main house, other structures remaining from Monroe's time include the cottage, a smokehouse, springhouse, blacksmith's shop, a square barn, the stone Stallion Barn, and possibly the Brick House.[6] The estate is a designated U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Purchase[edit]

Monroe and his uncle Joseph Jones jointly purchased 4,400 acres (18 km²) of land in Loudoun County in 1794. When Jones died without direct heirs in 1805, Monroe gained sole possession of the property. However, Monroe continued to live primarily at Highland, his residence in Albemarle County—until 1826, when he was forced to sell that property to pay debts he had incurred while serving as President.

Attempted Sale[edit]

Monroe had put Oak Hill on the market in 1809, and placed an advertisement in The Washingtonian on December 23 of that year:

LOUDOUN LAND
FOR SALE
For sale on Thursday, the 21st of December next on the premisies, the tract of LAND on which the late Judge Jones resided in Loudoun County with about 25 slaves, and the stock of Horses, Cattle, and Hogs, on the estate. The tract contains nearly 2000 acres [8 km²], and possesses many advantages which entitle it to the attention of those who may wish to reside, in that highly improved part of our country. Two merchant mills are in the neighbourhood, one on the adjoining estate, and the other within two miles [3 km]. It is 10 miles [16 km] from Leesburg, 35 [56 km] from Alexandria and 40 [64 km] from Georgetown. The new, Turn-pike from Alexandria crosses a corner of the land, and terminates at the nearest merchant mill. The whole tract is remarkably well watered, Little river passing through the middle of it, and many small streams on each side emptying into that river. About 50 or 60 acres [200,000 or 240,000 m²] are already well set with timothy, and at leats 300 acres (1.2 km²) are capable of being made excellent meadow. It will be divided into tracts of different dimensions to suit the convenience of purchasers. A credit of one, two and three years will be allowed. Bonds with approved security, and a trust on the land will be required. The negroes are supposed to be very valuable, some of them being good house servants, and the others, principally, young men and women. For them the same terms of credit will be allowed, and that of a year for every other article.
N.B. The above lands, being yet unsold, notice is given that they will be disposed of, by private sale, upon terms which will be made known on application to Israel Lacy Esq. of Goshen, Col. Armstead T. Mason, near Leesburg, Maj. Charles Fenton Mercer of Leesburg, or to the subscriber, near Milton in Albemarle county.
JAMES MONROE.
December, 23d 1809.

He also attempted to sell the land in 1825, but failed to receive an acceptable bid both times.

Retirement[edit]

In 1822, Monroe began construction on the main house, a two-story brick mansion in the Federal style. He hired James Hoban, the designer of the White House, to serve as architect. Monroe’s longtime friend and political mentor Thomas Jefferson offered many design suggestions.

Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, retired to Oak Hill after he finished his second term as President in 1825. In August 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette and President John Quincy Adams were guests of the Monroes there.[7] Elizabeth Monroe died at Oak Hill on September 23, 1830. After her death, Monroe moved to New York City to live with his youngest daughter and remained there until his own death on July 4, 1831.

After Monroe's death, the property passed out of the Monroe family. John W. Fairfax, later a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate States Army, bought Oak Hill in 1852. His wife remained there while Fairfax was away fighting in the American Civil War; it was visited by General George G. Meade of the Union Army on the invitation of Mrs. Fairfax about a week prior to the Battle of Gettysburg. The property passed out of the hands of John Fairfax after the war, but was later repurchased by his eldest son, Henry, a civil engineer and state senator.[8] The estate remained in the Fairfax family until after Henry Fairfax's death in 1916. The mansion was enlarged by the addition of two wings in 1922 while owned by Frank C. Littleton and his wife, but the central facade looks much as it did during Monroe's lifetime. The property remains in private hands today as the residence of Thomas DeLashmutt and his wife; it is not open to the public.

It is located approximately nine miles south of Leesburg on U.S. Route 15, in an unincorporated area of Loudoun County, Virginia. Its entrance is 10,300 feet (3,100 m) north of Gilberts Corner, the intersection of 15 with U.S. Route 50.[6]

Two U.S. Navy ships have been named USS Oak Hill after the estate.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Oak Hill (James Monroe House)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  4. ^ a b Stephen Lissandrello (February 28, 1975), "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Oak Hill / James Monroe Home (Oak Hill)" (pdf), 6 pages, including a map (National Park Service) 
  5. ^ "Journey through Hallowed Ground, a NRHP Travel Itinerary: Oak Hill". National Park Service. 
  6. ^ a b Lynn A. Beebe (September 20, 1985), "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Monroe, James, Home (Oak Hill) / Oak Hill" (pdf), 37 pages including a map (National Park Service) 
  7. ^ Auguste Levasseur. Alan R. Hoffman, ed. Lafayette in America. p. 549. 
  8. ^ Louise Pecquet du Bellet, Edward Jaquelin, Martha Cary Jaquelin (1907). Some prominent Virginia families, Volume 2. J.P. Bell company. 

Sources[edit]

  • Fennell, Christopher. "An Account of James Monroe's Land Holdings." June 18, 2002. [1]

External links[edit]