HISTORIC KENMORE PLANTATION & GARDENS

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Kenmore Plantation is a house on 1201 Washington Avenue in Fredericksburg, VA. Kenmore Plantation was built in the 1770s by Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis. Kenmore Plantation is the only remaining structure on 1,300 acres of land.

The Kenmore Plantation is noted for its remarkable plasterwork on the ceilings of many rooms on the first floor. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

Kenmore is a house museum owned by The George Washington Foundation. You can visit it every day, and they will tell you more about the house. It is also close to Ferry Farm, where George Washington lived as a child.

The house was built in 1776. It was for Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis, who is George Washington’s sister. They were a planter and successful merchant in the town. Their plantation grew tobacco, wheat, and corn by the labor of slaves. The Lewises enslaved more than 80 people on their 1300-acre plantation including a number of domestic slaves. The mansion’s rear frontage was oriented to the Rappahannock River for easy transportation access.

Betty’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, was buried on the property. After her death, Lewis descendants sold the house and property in 1797. A memorial was built for Betty’s mother in 1894 at the Mary Ball Washington gravesite.

The Samuel Gordon family bought the property in 1819. They named it Kenmore, which was also the name of their house in Scotland. Other people who were owners of the home in the nineteenth century restored the plaster ceilings.

During the American Civil War, the plantation house and outbuildings were used as a makeshift Union military hospital after the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. And they were also used by federal troops on their way to Richmond at the close of the war.

In 1922, the Kenmore Foundation bought this property and began to fix it up. Two smaller buildings on either side of the big house were rebuilt. The landscaping was fixed in 1924 by a man named Charles F. Gillette.

Today, the house and reconstructed dependencies are on three acres of ground. The National Register of Historic Places added it in 1969, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970. It is included in the Washington Avenue Historic District.

In 1922, a group of people met with Mrs. Emily White Fleming and her daughter, Mrs. Annie Fleming. They wanted to start a new town called Kenmore, but they needed more people to want this too – so they asked local citizens and civic groups if their idea was a good one. The Kenmore Association was born!

The Kenmore Association saved the house from commercial development and it opened to the public in 1925. They worked hard to buy it. The house was built by George Washington’s sister Betty and her husband Fielding Lewis in 1775. It is important for patriotic Americans, so people bought it and now they can visit it anytime they want.

In 2001, a restoration began at Kenmore to make it look like it would have in 1775. People from the foundation and other groups used technology and science to figure out what the house was like in order to make decisions about how best to fix it up.

Ceilings, cornices, and over-mantels were cleaned. The function of the three rooms was found. The wrong colors were changed to accurate ones because they weren’t right. Carpets were also put in the Dining Room and Drawing Room where they belong because family portraits are hung in the locations where they had been hung in the Lewis era.

If you’d like to learn more about Fredericksburg, click here to read about George Washington’s Ferry Farm.

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