Oatlands, general view
Oatlands plantation is a symbol of the agriculturally dominated culture of the pre-Civil War South. Southern states experienced a boom period beginning in the 1830s. Cotton had become increasingly profitable after the invention of the cotton gin in 1793. The period was marked by an expansion of the southern plantations. Southern planters viewed themselves as the equivalent of the English aristocracy. They built themselves simple yet grand plantation houses to reflect their wealth and social position.
The most popular style among southern planters was the Greek Revival style, one that was developed by native southern architects. The style, based on the Greek temple facade had symmetry and balance that created a conservative grandeur. Oatlands reflects the influence of the Greek Revival style. Like many wealthy planters, George Carter designed and built his own plantation house, augmenting it in 1816 with a gristmill. A miller's residence, brick manufactory, blacksmith shop, store, school and church soon followed as Oatlands became a 3000 acre cotton and sugar cane plantation.
During the war the plantation fed horses and armies from both sides, and was lucky enough to escape a massive burning raid by Union troops in 1864. After the fighting ended, Oatlands became a refuge for Carter relatives, friends and emancipated slaves left homeless by the war. To supplement the income from the cotton, the Carter family opened Oatlands as a summer boarding house, a country retreat for affluent people from nearby Washington, DC.
Artform: ARCHITECTURE, 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries
Artist: Carter, George
Country/Culture: United States
Period: 19th century
Subject: Mansion (city or country)
Style: Greek Revival
Museum: © Davis Art Images
City/Location: LEESBURG, VA
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