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Alexandria -- River Farm

Object Details

Former Title
Wellington Walnut Tree Farm Cliftons Neck
River Farm was first called Piscataway Neck by Margaret and Captain Giles Brent in 1653. During William Clifton's ownership, the property was known as Cliftons Neck. George Washington bought the property in 1760 to lease. The largest track at this time was called "River Farm." Tobias Lear, a renter, had called the property Walnut Farm. In 1859, a century after Washington purchased the property from Clifton, Charles Augustine Washington sold 652 acres of River Farm to three Quaker brothers, Stacey, Isaac, and William Snowden of New Jersey in order to acquire lumber for the ship building. The Snowdens divided the acreage, then known as Wellington, into three sections. In 1866, 280 acres including the present-day River Farm were sold to three men known as "The Syndicate." A writer from The Washington Sunday Star visited the estate in 1904 and referred to it as "this broken and pathetic house." The Wellington property was subsequently purchased in 1912 by Miss Theresa Thompson, a member of a prominent local family. Miss Thompson made changes and improvements at Wellington, but is was for Malcolm Matheson, who bought the property in 1919, to transform it into the early-20th century country estate we know today. The American Horticultural Society purchased River Farm in 1973 and made it their headquarters. The Society maintains display and test gardens on the 27 acre site. The 1757 main house is furnished in period; and the gardens offer identified plants.
Persons associated with the property include: Captain Giles Brent (former owner, 1653); Giles Brent (former owner); George Brent (former owner); Cliftons of Chotank (former owners 1739); George Washington (former owner, 1760); Charles Augustine Washington (former owner); Stacey, Isaac, and William Snowden (former owners, 1859); "The Syndicate" (former owners, 1866); Miss Theresa Thompson (former owner, 1912); Malcolm Matheson (former owner, 1919); and the American Horticultural Society (owners, 1973-present).
Former owner
Washington, George, 1732-1799
Lear, Tobias, 1762-1816
Former owner
Clifton, William
American Horticultural Society
Collection Creator
Garden Club of America
River Farm (Alexandria, Virginia)
United States of America -- Virginia -- City of Alexandria -- Alexandria
Gardens -- Virginia -- Alexandria
Former owner
Washington, George, 1732-1799
Lear, Tobias, 1762-1816
Former owner
Clifton, William
American Horticultural Society
See more items in
The Garden Club of America collection
The Garden Club of America collection / Series 1: United States Garden Images / Virginia
A project to describe images in this finding aid received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care Initiative, administered by the National Collections Program.
Archival Repository
Archives of American Gardens
AAG.GCA, File VA110
Archival materials
Collection Citation
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, The Garden Club of America collection.
Collection Rights
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens:
Garden has been featured in Frances Archer Christian and Susanne Williams Massie, eds., Homes and Gardens in Old Virginia (Richmond: Garrett and Massie, Incorporated, 1962), pp. 37-39.
Scope and Contents
There are three 35 mm. slides depicting horticultural details which were not catalogued. The folder includes a work sheet, site analysis map-1985, article copy and brochure.
Collection Restrictions
Access to original archival materials by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens:
Related Materials
River Farm related holdings consist of 2 folders (3 glass lantern slides and 10 35 mm. slides)
Large EAD
Record ID
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