One wants to go see a historic house museum.
The other wants something artistic and unique.
Now that’s a tall order folks, but doable this month at Woodlawn.
A wedding gift from George and Martha Washington to their beloved Eleanor (George’s step granddaughter) and her husband Lawrence Lewis, this 217-year-old brick mansion designed by William Thornton (US Capitol) is hosting its 54th Annual Needlework Show & Sale.
We went this morning and enjoyed the dual show. There are, however, some drawbacks. Tickets are $15 instead of $10, and don’t include a guided tour. Downstairs and upstairs are open and you can get a jump - Woodlawn doesn’t open for the season until mid-April.
Placards tell some of Woodlawn’s unique tale. Eleanor and her family entertained many notable guests including John Adams, Zachary Taylor, Robert E. Lee and Marquis de Lafayette.
After they left, Gillingham-Troth Company, a Quaker ran outfit from New Jersey acquired the mansion and neglected farm. They supplied timber to northern markets and helped establish the Woodlawn Quaker community. These Quakers tried to show that farms could be worked with paid labor.
John and Rachael Mason, a couple from New Jersey, purchased Woodlawn in 1850. His wife Rachael organized a Sunday School, which operated out of the mansion’s parlor. Woodlawn Baptist Church was then started around 1876.
Other owners included Paul Kester, a novelist, Elizabeth Sharpe, an heiress from Philadelphia, and Senator and Mrs. Oscar Underwood (Alabama).
Woodlawn was saved in the late 1940s. Out of this effort came the formation of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The mansion and historic home was their first protected property.