Morven Park

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Morven Park
Morven Park, Leesburg VA-1.jpg
Morven Park, June 2009
Morven Park is located in Virginia
Morven Park
Location 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of Leesburg off U.S. 15, near Leesburg, Virginia
Coordinates 39°8′26.3″N 77°34′24.2″W / 39.140639°N 77.573389°W / 39.140639; -77.573389Coordinates: 39°8′26.3″N 77°34′24.2″W / 39.140639°N 77.573389°W / 39.140639; -77.573389
Built 1780
Architect Lind & Murdock; Thomas Swann, Jr.
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP Reference # 75002022
VLR # 053-0087
Significant dates
Added to NRHP February 18, 1975[2]
Designated VLR November 19, 1974; March 13, 2008[1]

Morven Park is an estate in Leesburg, Virginia, USA, that includes the Westmoreland Davis Mansion and the Winmill Carriage Museum. The gardens are open to the public at no charge.

The park is also home to the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, with displays of art, artifacts and memorabilia about the sport of foxhunting. Opened in 1985, the museum is located in the north wing of the Westmoreland Davis Mansion, owned by Westmoreland Davis, Governor of Virginia from 1918 to 1922.

The Westmoreland Davis Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark. The Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation operates the property and offers tours.


The first structures on the site of Morven Park date to about 1780. A fieldstone house built by Wilson Cary Seldon is now a part of the north wing of the main house, stuccoed over to match the rest of the mansion. Judge Thomas Swann acquired the property about 1808. Around 1830 Swann built the center two-story portion of the house, with flanking pavilions. It is not known whether the pavilions were initially linked to the house, but the renovations included the prominent tetrastyle Greek Revival portico that dominates the front. While the brick structure remains, now stuccoed, none of the Swann interiors exist. Judge Swann's son, Thomas Swann Jr., began a remodeling program around 1850, using the Baltimore firm of E.G. Lind and William T. Murdock as architects, converting the Palladian house to the Italianate style with four towers, including one that was to be five stories tall, stated by The Buildings of Virginia to resemble Queen Victoria's Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The pavilions were by this time linked to the main house. The towers were later removed. Thomas Swann Jr.'s daughter and her husband, Dr. Shirley Carter, made more changes, adding a music room at the rear of the main house with an octagonal end.[3][4]

Westmoreland Davis bought the house in 1903 and expanded it again. Davis raised the height of the hyphens to two stories and reworked the interior. Davis, a New York lawyer, had roots in Virginia and made Morven Park into an agricultural showpiece, while his wife developed formal gardens near the house.[3]

In the 1970s, Morven Park was home to the Morven Park International Equestrian Institute. The Institute was a training center for advanced dressage, 3-day eventing, and show jumping. More than one rider trained at Morven Park went on to international equestrian competition. In its day, Morven Park and the Potomac Horse Center were considered the two most prestigious riding schools in the United States. Today, the barns still stand and the gift shop is located in what used to be a student dormitory.

Beginning in 2013, the turkeys pardoned in the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation have been sent to Morven Park to live out the rest of their natural lives; Davis, in his lifetime, farmed turkeys.[5]

Morven Park


  1. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Staff (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ a b Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (November 1974). "National Register of Histroric Places Inventory - Nomination Form: Morven Park" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Wilson, Richard Guy, ed. (2002). Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont. Oxford University Press. pp. 101–102. ISBN 0-19-515206-9. 
  5. ^ Merica, Dan (November 27, 2013). Where pardoned turkeys go to die. CNN. Retrieved March 24, 2014.

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