Oak Hill (plantation)

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South façade of Oak Hill.
South façade of Oak Hill.

Oak Hill Plantation is an National Historic Landmark in Loudoun County, Virginia, approximately nine miles south of Leesburg. The mansion was constructed for James Monroe, the fifth U.S. President, who lived at the estate after his term as President.

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 The Highlands—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. Monroe had put Oak Hill on the market in 1810, and placed a newspaper advertisement in The Washingtonian on December 23 of that year:

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.
December, 23d 1809.

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

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 retired to Oak Hill after he finished his second term as President in 1825. Many dignitaries, including the Marquis de Lafayette and John Quincy Adams, were guests of the Monroes there. Monroe's wife, Elizabeth 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, a Colonel in the Confederate States Army, bought Oak Hill in 1854. His wife remained there while Fairfax was away fighting in the American Civil War; it was captured by General George G. Meade of the Union Army and was used as his headquarters during the Second Battle of Bull Run. The mansion was enlarged by the addition of two wings in 1922 while owned by Frank C. Littleton and his wife, but the central façade looks much as it did during Monroe's lifetime. The property remains in private hands today as the residence of Thomas Delasmutt and his wife; it is not open to the public.

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


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

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