Mike Bohn gave a terrific slide presentation and talk on Saturday at Huntley Meadows. Titled “Historic Homes of the Mount Vernon Area,” the event was sponsored by Historic Huntley.
Bohn showed old black and whites of homes in and around Mount Vernon.
One blew me away, and I know others in the audience of about 30 people were also looking on in disbelief.
Believe it or not, this...
...was Gunston Hall.
Time prevented Mike from going into any detail, so yours truly went digging (Sources: HABS Report, Alexandria Gazette and Washington Post, Gunston Hall).
Colonel Edward D. Daniels (1828-1916) bought the famed Mason beauty in 1870. He added on the tower and other additions seen in the photo.
Daniels lived a fascinating life and the Alexandria Gazette covered some of it. Far from treating him as a Yankee carpetbagger, they wrote articles praising his progressive work.
Long story short on Daniels.
- Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- In 1853, moved to Wisconsin, became the state’s first state geologist.
- Passionate abolitionist, led the State Kansas Aid Society.
- As a Colonel, commanded Wisconsin Calvary unit during Civil War.
- Came to Virginia after the Civil War.
- Bought Gunston Hall and 1,000 acres in 1868 from descendants of George Mason.
- Named it Iona, after his wife.
- Made some repairs, added two-tier tower for his interest in astronomy.
- Progressive farmer, fruits and vegetables.
- Founded the Co-operative Industrial Association of Fairfax County in 1876.
- Hired black laborers, paid them high wages, and trained them in scientific farming techniques.
- Improved the estate's wharf and became a founding director and member of the executive committee of the Upper Potomac Steamboat Company.
- Involved in Reconstruction politics. Supported the Readjusters, a biracial political coalition in Virginia.
- Edited and published the Richmond Evening State Journal in support of the Republican Party.
- Visited Alexandria, described as Scientific and practical horticulturist.
- Served on the Committee for Science for the Potomac Fruit Growers’ Association in Washington.
- Sold Gunston Hall in 1891.
- Died at his farm near Gunston Hall in 1916.
- Buried in Arlington National Cemetery.