Saving George Washington’s Birthplace

  • Arts & Culture
  • 1930

In the 1920s, a group of public-spirited women became interested in preserving the lands where George Washington had been born, and erecting a Tidewater plantation house similar to the one the Washington family had occupied until it burned in 1779. The Wakefield National Memorial Association pieced together land that was donated and purchased around the home site, then interested John Rockefeller Jr. in cementing the property with a larger land acquisition. Rockefeller bought 273 acres of the old Wakefield plantation and signed it over to the U.S. government in 1930 at about the same time the Association transferred its 100 acres. Almost 400 acres of land was designated as George Washington Birthplace National Monument, and the Wakefield National Memorial Association was given permission to erect an eighteenth-century-style brick home. Furnished with period artifacts and appropriately landscaped, the home was opened to visitors in 1931, a few months before the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth.