THE CARTER BARN, built in 1821, is a barn notched into the man-made hillside. The brick structure and attached stone icehouse are all that remain of a much larger farming complex. Originally, this area was the agricultural hub of the plantation where enslaved people threshed grain, sheared sheep, and crafted tools in a blacksmith shop. With several interior bins, the Carter Barn mainly served as grain storage for various crops. The structure utilized an intricate design to create good ventilation which prevented mold and dispersed accumulated heat. Archaeological evidence uncovered a foundation adjacent to the Carter Barn, indicating that another bay once extended farther to the south. Newspaper articles note that a large barn at Oatlands burned down in 1889, likely this missing bay.
Currently, a wooden dairy barn partially sits on the missing bay’s foundation. During the early to mid-1900s, a large influx of people to the Washington, D.C. area caused a boom in Loudoun County’s dairy industry. The Eustis family built their own state-of-the-art facility to hygienically gather and process milk from Oatlands’ cows. Today, the barn is a time capsule, displaying evidence of both Carter and Eustis-era agricultural practices.
The Carter Barn and Icehouse, 1973
The Carter Barn was once part of a large, walled agricultural complex that processed wheat, corn, oats, and other crops. The increase in agricultural production at Oatlands was directly tied to the growth and expansion of the enslaved population who lived and labored here. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
The Carter Barn and Dairy Barn, 1937
This image captures both Carter and Eustis-era influences on the building. The brick section retains a fieldstone bank wall, unique roof framing system, and arched openings, illustrating George Carter’s willingness to experiment with architecture. The Eustis family added the wooden
two-story dairy barn for milking cows.
The Entrance to Oatlands’ Barn Complex, 1976
This farm road, flanked by stone walls, is the original access point to the barn complex. Although the noise and hustle of an active farm operation has faded into memory, the road and Carter Barn remain as lasting testaments to an enslaved people who built the structures at Oatlands and cultivated the land.
The Carter Barn Complex: Phase I and II Archaeological Investigations, 2013
George Carter’s granddaughter told her daughter about an enormous barn “so large that you could turn six horses around in it.” She likely referred to the Carter Barn and its missing bay, believed to have burned in 1889. This artist rendering depicts the minimum footprint of the missing bay. Image courtesy of Rivanna Archaeological Services.