Morven Park is a historic estate located in Leesburg, Virginia. Founded beginning around 1780, the Morven Park is home to a number of historic homes, gardens, and museums. On November 19th, 1974, it was designated on the Virginia Landmark Register, and on February 18th, 1975, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Currently, the park is operated by the Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation and gives tours to visitors. Additionally, turkeys pardoned at the White House on Thanksgiving get sent to Morven Park in order to live out a natural life.
Backstory and Context
The structures that dot about Morven Park all originate from different time periods in the Park’s life, the earliest of which is a home that dates back to 1780. Judge Thomas Swann purchased the home and 262 acres of land in 1808, after which he would go on to not only increase the size of the house considerably, but he would also expand the plot of the estate to 1400 acres. Swann passed on the home to his son Thomas Swann, Jr., in 1840, and having served as the mayor of Baltimore at one point, Thomas commissioned the Baltimore firm of Lind and Murdock to conduct some extensive renovations on the home. Thomas died in 1883, and he passed on the property to his daughter, Mary Mercer Carter.
The property would continue to be sold in the following few years until it at last was bought by Westmoreland Davis in 1903. After acquiring the estate, Davis went about expanding it greatly, and began to breed prize livestock. Eventually, he became the president of the Farmers’ Association in Virginia, and focused greatly on agricultural affairs. In addition, Davis went to great lengths to create inviting gardens on the estate. Davis’ wife would go on after his death to establish the Westmoreland Davis Foundation, Incorporated, in order to turn the estate into a cultural center, open to the public, and it has served as such ever since then. On November 19th, 1974, it was designated on the Virginia Landmark Register, and on February 18th, 1975, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.