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               Nelly Custis Chapter
                                  Mount Vernon, Virginia

                                    Abingdon Plantation
                                    (Birthplace of Nelly Custis)

 Abingdon2thumbnail_no_fuzz.jpg     The land that Ronald Reagan National Airport occupies today was once part of a plantation.  The ruins you see in these photos are all that remain of the house that stood here for nearly 190 years.  Abingdon, as this tract of land on the Potomac River was called, witnessed sweeping historical changes.  The land was owned for many years by the Alexander family, for whom Alexandria, Virginia, was named.  John Parke Custis, George Washington's adopted stepson, purchased the plantation and moved his family to Abingdon in 1778.      Abingdon3thumbnail_no_fuzz.jpg    

 

 

 

 

 

Through the Custis family, Abingdon is associated with families of the Virginia plantations of Mount Vernon, Stratford Hall, Kenmore, Woodlawn, and Arlington.  It is known as the "Birthplace of Nelly Custis" because she was the only child in the Custis family who was born there.  After her father's death, George and Martha Washington raised their granddaughter, Nelly, as their own child. 

    Abingdon_house_west_face_1920.jpgAbingdon survived Union occupation during the Civil War and the end of plantation life.  But the encroachment of industry finally took its toll on Abingdon, which fell into disrepair until it burned in 1930.  Eight years later, the land was chosen as the site of an airport designed to serve the Nation's Capital.  As National Airport evolved, the ruins of the plantation house remain preserved on this hill as a testament to the rich history of this land.

     The Metropolitan Airports Authority worked in concert with Federal, state, and local historic preservation agencies and professionals in the field to develop the restoration plan for the Abingdon Plantation site.  The restoration process involved:    

  • careful excavation and cataloguing of all archaeological features below ground
  • repairs to the original brick foundations, retaining as much of the original building materials as possible
  • restoring unstable portions of the original foundations using new building materials
  • providing new above-ground reconstructions of previously buried ruin features

 


Site Last Updated: August 1, 2017

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