[Graphic Header] National Register of Historic Places Preservation Month May 2005, Restore America: Communities at a Crossroads
[graphic] Henry Whitfield House  

Henry Whitfield House
NHL Photograph

Woodlawn, a National Historic Landmark, was designed by William Thornton, the first architect of the U.S. Capitol. Located in Fairfax County, Virginia, Woodlawn was the home of Major Lawrence Lewis and Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis, the nephew and foster granddaughter of George Washington. The 2,000-acre site and the funds to build the mansion, supporting outbuildings, grist mill, and distillery were given to the couple in Washington's will. The two were married on Washington's last birthday, February 22, 1799, and construction of the house, begun in 1800, was completed in 1805.

[photo] Quincy Homestead, Kitchen
Photograph by Myron O Stachiw.

Woodlawn's significance lies in the story it reveals about the evolving history of the historic preservation movement in the United States. Every owner following the Lewises recognized the historic value of the site as evidenced by the lack of substantial alterations to the central block of the house. It is clear that as early as the 1890s the site was considered an important historical landmark worthy of preservation and even a tourist attraction. Although owners in the early twentieth century altered the hyphens and wings, their changes demonstrate an effort to adapt the house to their lifestyle, while maintaining a sense of of its historic architectural character. Scores of nationally prominent figures played largely in the preservation effort, led by the Woodlawn Public Foundation. Created in tandem with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Woodlawn Public Foundation's efforts resulted in the National Trust accepting Woodlawn as its flagship property in 1951.

Woodlawn is located at the junction of US Rt. 1 and VA Rt. 235, 10 miles south of Alexandria. Woodlawn is open April through December, Monday-Saturday, 10 am-4pm; March, daily, 10 am-4 pm; and is closed January and February, except on President's Day.

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