About Oak Hill Estate

Architectural drawing of Oak Hill Estate

Oak Hill was a childhood home of the noted Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall, from the age of seventeen. Construction on the home, carried out by his father Thomas Marshall, was completed by 1773.   A small wood-frame dwelling, it is a classic example of Virginia’s colonial vernacular architecture.

The original home was framed atop a stone foundation with clapboard siding and massive brick chimneys on the north and south ends. The ground floor was divided into four rooms of unequal size, each with a fireplace. The narrow dormers contained three rooms, the largest of which had its own fireplace. Incredibly, a majority of the well-preserved finish (both inside and out) remains intact.

John Marshall became the owner of Oak Hill in 1785 when his father moved to Kentucky. Although John Marshall lived mostly in Richmond and Washington, he kept his Fauquier County property as a retreat, continually making improvements to the structure.

In 1819, he attached a Classical Revival house as a residence for his son Thomas and his wife Margaret, to house their expanding family of six children.

The fate of Oak Hill Estate was changed in 1835 when John Marshall lay on his deathbed in Philadelphia. While on the road to Pennsylvania, his son, Thomas Marshall died in debt to the estate at the age of fifty-one. Upon these deaths, the three-thousand acre Oak Hill estate was divided among Thomas’ six children. 213 acres, including the original house, were left to Thomas’ son, John; however, the division of the property was not complete until 1848. Thomas, his wife, and his mother-in-law are all buried in the Oak Hill family cemetery.

In 1852, after John’s passing, the land transferred to his brother Thomas Jr. (another of John Marshall’s grandson’s). On the night of October 16, 1859, Thomas Marshall Jr. galloped to Harpers Ferry and became a voluntary aide to General Stonewall Jackson, receiving the rank of Captain. In an engagement near Winchester on November 12, 1864, Colonel Thomas Marshall was fatally shot through the heart.

Oak Hill went unoccupied during the Civil War save for a few domestics. While the house and immediate outbuildings suffered no material damage, the outlying barns, fences and timber were largely destroyed. With the removal of livestock, the grounds were left unkempt. Neither the land nor the home benefitted from four years of neglect.

In September of 1866, after 100 years of Marshall family ownership, Oak Hill was sold to cover $36,139.80 in family debts. Over the next 10 years, Oak Hill had three successive owners.

Franklin Webster Maddux acquired the property in 1876 for $20,000 and proceeded to make several significant exterior modifications, which largely obscured the original architecture of both the 1783 and 1813 homes.

After Franklin Webster’s death in 1914, the Maddux family sold the 520 acre estate to Alvin Baird for $52,000. While Baird made additional changes to the original houses, he also largely returned the primary external architecture to its original condition.

On September 12th 1928, a vast concourse of people met on the sweeping lawns to celebrate the one-hundred-and-seventy-third birthday of John Marshall. Incidentally, they met to launch the proposed John Marshall Highway (Route 55) which would run from Washington through Thoroughfare Gap. This road would cross landmarks such as Manassas Gap, Front Royal, Sky Line Drive, Shenandoah National Park as well as Oak Hill Estate.

In 1934, the office of National Parks, Buildings and Restorations of the Department of the Interior took the first complete measured drawings of Oak Hill.

Both Alvin and Kay Baird passed away in 1964. The house and its 520 acres were sold to the Marks family for $110,000. In June of 1973, Oak Hill was entered in the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1996, the Marks subdivided the land into 5 parcels ranging between 10 and 100 acres. Chuck Chamberlain then purchased a 100 acre parcel which included the estate.

In 2006 Brian & Sharon Roeder purchased the immediately adjoining 70 acre parcel. Two years later, in 2008, the Roeder’s opened Barrel Oak Winery, planting vineyards through the hills. In 2010 the Roeder’s acquired Oak Hill from Chuck Chamberlain, reopening the original house to the public in the Summer of 2012.

Few homes which once belonged to influential American historical figures remain so slightly altered. The existence of two such conjoined houses is exceptional.

 

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