If you are looking for a place where you and your family can learn and discuss more about our American history and the impact of slavery, we invite you to visit Oatlands Historic House and Gardens. Oatlands has been a cultural hub in Loudoun County through its historical association with powerful names like Carter, Corcoran, Eustis, Roosevelt and more. Some of the most impactful people are those whose names are forgotten—but whose presence is evident if you take a closer look.
We encourage you to visit and take an Enslaved Tour, part of our ongoing initiative dedicated to sharing the stories the enslaved African American community was denied to tell.By 1860, the Carters were the largest slave owners in Loudoun County. They owned 133 enslaved men, women and children. These men, women and children were responsible for building an agricultural enterprise that gave Carter great success. Just one visible example of the enslaved community’s labor is the brick that make up a great deal of our landscape. The brick structures that were built by enslaved labor include the historic mansion, the Dairy/Bachelors Cottage, the Smokehouse and the Carter Barn—the hub of all plantation business.
Today, the one-story Smokehouse where the enslaved stored and preserved meat products is where we preserve and give light to the Reclaim Your Story exhibit, a project funded by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation with support from the JPB Foundation.
On April 11, 2015, Oatlands partnered with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun (UUCL) and the Loudoun Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee to dedicate two Civil War Trails markers focusing on the enslaved at Oatlands. It was a chance for the descendants to share stories and fill in some of the faded names of their family tree. And has turned into an enlightening annual reunion at Oatlands. Sadly, this reunion was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
We ask guests to consider the skill and effort a person would have had to go through in making the red bricks that have lasted over 200 years. When you touch the walls of the brick buildings, you are touching the same brick that was handled by an enslaved person. An enslaved person dug the clay meant to make thousands of bricks. An enslaved person stacked the bricks to construct the mansion, the Smoke House the garden buildings, two barns and the large grain mill on Goose Creek. When you touch one of these bricks at Oatlands, you are touching a piece of our collective American history!