Belmont Manor House
Backstory and Context
Ludwell Lee, son of Richard Hennery Lee who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, built the Mansion between 1799-1803. This Mansion housed President James Madison who frequently used the Manor as a safe haven during the War of 1812. Another prominent figure that often visited the Manor was Gilbert Du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette served within the Continental Army under George Washington during the American Revolutionary War and was leader of the Garde Nationale during the French Revolution. The fireplaces located in the Manor’s East and West reception room are said to be gifts to Lee from Lafayette in 1825.
After Ludwell’s death, Margaret Mercer purchased the 400 acres of Belmont to transform the house into a Women’s Christian School. The acreage had appeal because she wanted to emphasize the importance of agriculture at her new Belmont Academy. She also worked for the county’s controversial colonization society which was a branch of the American Colonization Society, whose aim was to purchase the freedom of slaves and resettle them in Africa. Miss Mercer died of tuberculosis in 1846, but the school continued under Mr. and Mrs. Kephart.
In 1887 the property was sold to Mr. Frederick P. Stanton, the ex-governor of Kansas. 1915 the McLean Family bought the property. The Edward B. McLean was the son of John McLean, the owner-publisher of the Washington Post Newspaper. The family also owned the Hope Diamond, a 45.25 deep blue diamond which is now at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in D.C. They also brought foxhunting and horse racing as a means of entertainment to the manor.
In 1932 Patrick Hurley, Secretary of War under President Hoover, purchased the Manor and made it his residence until 1964. The international Business Machines Corporation bought the Manor from Mr. And Mrs. George C. Clarke, retaining a life interest in the house in concern for its preservation. However, during the 1980s the manor required vast renovations due to years of neglect and extensive interior damage.
In 1995, Toll Brothers Inc. purchased Belmont Manor and restored it to its original condition. Toll Brothers and Belmont Country Club preserved the original history along with its ornate federal style features. The Belmont Manor is now used for activities such as weddings and dining. Visitors can walk through the Mansion and see the restored Manor.