WoodlawnA Distinctive Destination
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Woodlawn is a 126-acre estate that was originally part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The main Federal-style house was designed by the architect of the U.S. Capitol, Dr. William Thornton, and constructed between 1800 and 1805 for Washington’s nephew, Major Lawrence Lewis, and his wife, Eleanor “Nelly” Custis Lewis.
During the Lewises’ years in residence, Woodlawn comprised over 2,000 acres and was supported by scores of workers, at least 90 of whom were enslaved people of African descent. In 1846, the Lewises’ son sold the property to Quaker families who made Woodlawn a “free labor colony,” selling lots to free black and white farmers – a tremendously controversial social experiment.
By the turn of the 20th century, Woodlawn was sadly deteriorated and only saved through the efforts of Elizabeth Sharpe, a Pennsylvania coal heiress. In 1952, Woodlawn became the first historic site owned by the National Trust. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House, scheduled for demolition due to widening of Interstate 66, was donated to the National Trust in 1964 and relocated to the grounds of Woodlawn.
Woodlawn is a National Historic Landmark, recognized for its role in the development of the American preservation movement. Two residences on the property—one a Federal-style mansion, the other a groundbreaking Usonian house—make the estate one of the most unusual historic sites in the country.
Woodlawn and the National Trust for Historic Preservation worked together to ensure that the 2012 widening of adjacent Route 1 would not adversely affect preservation of the estate and completed restoration projects at the 1805 mansion.
Today, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture—a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, D.C area—is based on the historic grounds of Woodlawn's estate. Woodlawn hosts a wide array of events and provides private tours between April and December.
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