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Richard Fitzhugh built Oak Hill for his personal residence circa 1790 on his inherited 2524-acre share of Ravensworth, Parcel 1.1.4. He raised a family of eight children and lived at Oak Hill until his death in 1821.
The original house was built in the late Georgian style: center hall, two stories, four rooms – two downstairs and two up. Outbuildings contained the kitchen and other household services.
Thomas Jefferson’s personal account books record at least four overnight visits to Oak Hill, when President, on trips between Washington, DC and his Monticello home near Charlottesville, VA, including April 1-2, 1804 – arranged in this exchange of letters.1
After the death of Richard Fitzhugh’s widow, Suzannah (Meade) Fitzhugh, circa 1857, Oak Hill passed by inheritance three times within 23 years to:
- their son David Fitzhugh with 345 acres (1857) – During his tenure in the Civil War, the house was the site of a skirmish
- Oak Hill: Civil War Skirmish (A Look Back At Braddock)
- their daughter Ann (Fitzhugh) Battaile (1868)
- Ann’s daughter Ann Battaile with 60 acres (1880)
Watt Family Farm
In 1889, William Watt purchased Oak Hill with 50 acres for $900. The property remained a working farm in the Watt family until 1935, when William’s son Egbert and his wife Grace sold it. Two of their daughters related memories of their childhood at Oak Hill in the 1930s in oral interviews in the A Look Back at Braddock history project.
From Farmhouse to Mansion
Washington, D.C. lawyer Edward Howrey and his wife Jane bought Oak Hill in 1935. The Howreys renovated and expanded the house in the Colonial Revival Style, adding a front portico with columns, additional rooms and modern plumbing and appliances. Mrs. Howrey documented a myth connected with the house, which is recounted in:
- Truth or Myth: The Legend of Miss Ann and Captain Hawkins – by Debbie Robison, Northern Virginia History Notes
In 1968, the Howreys sold the property to the Vienna Development Corporation, which built subdivision houses on the land and reduced the Oak Hill lot to less than three acres.
- Oak Hill: Aerial Views 1966-1969 – show the property within a closing circle of subdivision development.
- National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Oak Hill – In 2003 an extensive analysis and description of the property was prepared for the National Register of Historic Places
Today, Oak Hill is a privately owned residence, which Fairfax County has protected through an historic easement. The easement requires that the property be available for public viewing four times annually.
Photographs (A Look Back At Braddock):
- Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767-1826 (Princeton University Press, 1997), 1123, 1148, 1203, 1243. ↩