The end of the Civil War marked the decline of the Carter family plantation era, which utimately resulted in Oatlands being turned over to new homeowners. William Corcoran Eustis, and his wife Edith Morton Eustis, purchased Oatlands in 1903. Since then, Oatlands has been a home full of creativity and art.
William was the grandson of William Wilson Corcoran. Edith was the daughter of Vice President Levi P. Morton. The Eustis family gave new life to the tired house and gardens by converting it into a charming country estate. Oatlands was their country home away for the hubbub of their residence in Washington D.C
Today, Washingtonians continue to flock to Oatlands to capture some of the peace and artistry that Edith was so devoted to express in her garden through the use of landscape design, sculptures and focal points.
Edith was a fan of famed garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. She used Jekyll’s theories when renovating the Oatlands gardens in the Colonial Revival style that was popular at that time. The result was Edith’s Rose Garden. The design includes two long borders, a cedar post and chain support for the Dorothy Perkins—climbing roses—along the tall boxwood.
In the late 1930’s, Edith built a reflecting pool. At the north end of the pool, stands Attilio Piccirilli’s sculpture, The Fawn, with the garden Tea House elegantly displayed just ahead of the statue’s gaze.
The garden Tea House and the sundial are two focal points that are very popular with visitors today. The Tea House is a beautiful structure that dates back to the early 1900’s. Edith included this space in her formal terraced English garden as a way to create “rooms” and areas of interest for her guests. Just a few feet from the tea house is a whimsical sundial that the Eustis family bought in Italy in the 1920’s.
Two memorials remembering Edith’s daughters are preserved on the garden grounds. In the shelter of the old Box Grove is the statue, “Vierge d’Autun,” a memorial to a daughter who died at the age of 24. The Memorial Garden, featuring a small pond, honors her other daughter Mrs. Anne Eustis Emmet. The Oatlands property would stay with the Eustis family until Edith’s death. Daughters Anne Eustis Emmet, and Margaret Eustis Finley inherited the property, choosing to donates their childhood home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1965.
Edith’s flare for design makes this National Trust site a favorite for horticulturalists, landscape architects, gardeners, photographers and those in search of peaceful places to wander. Oatlands continues the oral tradition of preserving history, art and culture through an association of dedicated Interpretive Guides. From plantation to country estate, the history of Oatlands has something that everyone can enjoy.