Oak Hill

Oak Hill is a mansion and plantation near Leesburg, Virginia that was for 22 years a home of James Monroe, the fifth U.S. President. The main mansion of the property was constructed in 1822 for Monroe, who subsequently split time between this estate and another home at the Monroe Hill on the grounds of the University of Virginia after his term as President.

The estate is a designated U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Oak Hill was Monroe's only residence for three years, from 1827 to 1830, and it was one of his residences during 22 years. The mansion was built in 1820, during Monroe's presidency. Before that, Monroe's residence at the estate was the clapboard building known in recent years as the Monroe Cottage.

The architecture is distinctive for "its unusual pentastyle portico". It is suggested that "Thomas Jefferson, his close friend, may well have drawn plans for Oak Hill; the construction was supervised by James Hoban, designer and builder of the White House.

Structures remaining from Monroe's time include the main house, the cottage, a smokehouse, springhouse, blacksmith's shop, a square barn, the stone Stallion Barn, and possibly the Brick House.


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 Highland, 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.

Attempted Sale

Monroe had put Oak Hill on the market in 1810, and placed an advertisement in The Washingtonian on December 23 of that year:

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. In August 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette and President John Quincy Adams, were guests of the Monroes there. Monroe's wife Elizabeth Kortright Monroe 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, later a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate States Army, bought Oak Hill in 1852. His wife remained there while Fairfax was away fighting in the American Civil War; it was visited by General George G. Meade of the Union Army on the invitation of Mrs. Fairfax about a week prior to the Battle of Gettysburg. The property passed out of the hands of John Fairfax after the war, but was later repurchased by his eldest son, Henry, a civil engineer and state senator. The estate remained in the Fairfax family until after Henry Fairfax's death in 1916. The mansion was enlarged by the addition of two wings in 1922 while owned by Frank C. Littleton and his wife, but the central facade looks much as it did during Monroe's lifetime. The property remains in private hands today as the residence of Thomas DeLashmutt and his wife; it is not open to the public.

It is located approximately nine miles south of Leesburg on U.S. Route 15, in unincorporated area of Loudoun County, Virginia. Its entrance is 10,300 feet (3,100 m) north of Gilberts Corner, the intersection of 15 with U.S. Route 50.

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.

Building Activity

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