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Oatlands expands, launches capital campaign

Classic horse and carriages circle the Oatlands property during a 2012 “Old-Fashioned Day.” Times-Mirror File Photo/Trevor Baratko
Oatlands, a 414-acre National Trust Historic Site just south of downtown Leesburg, has purchased 54 adjacent acres, known as Oatlands Hamlet, and site officials are launching a capital campaign to help fund the project and property repairs.

On the Hamlet, purchased for $1.85 million, are two historic homes that will require upgrades and maintenance, according to an Oatlands spokesperson. The Hamlet is part of Oatlands' original 3,400-acre estate, and its purchase is being touted as a strategic move against encroaching development.

The purchase was first announced at the Oatlands gala in late April.

“There's a lot of good energy around Oatlands,” Andrea McGimsey, executive director of Oatlands, said in a statement. “The purchase of the adjacent property, known as Oatlands Hamlet, is a core piece that was once part of Oatlands, and we're delighted to reunite it.”

McGimsey, other Oatlands staff and the National Trust plans to inventory the new property and its artifacts and consult with historians to develop a plan to integrate and interpret the history of the site, McGimsey said.

Oatlands, which is managed by a board of directors, worked with Virginia Heritage Bank to secure financing for the new property. Property officials aim to raise $2.5 million over the next two years to pay for the purchase property maintenance.

A self-supporting National Trust Historic Site and national Historic Landmark, Oatlands features extravagant gardens and scenic views of old Virginia countryside, an 1804 mansion and the second-oldest greenhouse in the country.

The estate was established in the early 19th century by George Carter, a descendant of one of Virginia’s first families.

“Through the labor of an enslaved work force, the farm became a thriving wheat plantation and base for numerous business enterprises” until the Civil War, the Oatlands website notes. “During most of the 20th century Oatlands served as the country estate of Mr. and Mrs. William Corcoran Eustis, affluent Washingtonians with strong ties to the national arts community and American political arena.”

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