Thanks to the generosity of philanthropists John and Diana Jaeger, aided by owners of J&L Interiors Julie Hoffmann and Lori DuVal, Oatlands has found a new way to bring visitors to the former plantation and manor house property six miles south of Leesburg.
Built by plantation owner George Carter in the early 19th century, Oatlands was purchased in the early years of the 20th century by William Corcoran Eustis and his wife, Edith Morton Eustis. The family donated the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1965. Oatlands is a National Historic Landmark.
The property, managed by a local board of directors, is known for its history programs, community events, and as one of the county’s most popular wedding venues.
It is the latter service that will see the biggest boost from the latest project—the renovation of the former Emmet family house. Now known as the Inn at Oatlands Hamlet, the manor house will serve as a wedding, reception and small retreat center.
Bookings are strong, particularly from wedding planners who appreciate the opportunity to host the entire wedding party in the house, according to Director of Development Matt Kraycinovich. Equally, businesses like the retreat space that includes kitchen facilities and the ability to allow overnight stays for travelling executives.
The purchase of 50 acres and the house from its longtime owner, Gerry Emmet, in 2014, returned an essential part of Carter’s early estate to the Oatlands holdings and also expanded the National Trust’s ownership of Rt. 15 frontage along the estate. Oatlands began a $2.5 million capital campaign to preserve the house and other historic structures on the estate and to support Oatlands’ cultural and educational programs.
In a recent letter to thanking the Jaegers, who are funding the renovation, Emmet said the house had been the gardener’s cottage when he was growing up at Oatlands. His mother inherited the house and added to it substantially, as did Emmet and his wife.
That the new venture has gotten off the ground with a flourish is attributable to the generosity of the Jaegers, who live south of Oatlands at Creighton Farms, and their partnership with the creative design genius of sisters Hoffmann and DuVal—particularly because the four have known and worked with each other for years.
Oatlands Board Chairman Doug Miller cited “the visionary qualities” of the Jaegers’ gift. “As with much of their philanthropic efforts, the Jaegers are focused upon giving in a way that continues to deliver impact not just in the present moment, but also for the future.”
And that’s a point the couple stressed in a recent interview at The Hamlet. Giving has always been a tenet of their philosophy, according to Diana Jaeger, while her husband said, “it’s just in my nature to give.”
They both have profound reactions to what they have seen on mission trips through their church. They stressed the importantance of a gift that continues to roll over. They have a philosophy of “giving people a hand up, not a hand-out” Diana Jaeger said.
That’s a philosophy that DuVal and Hoffmann also espouse. The sisters are longtime supporters of Oatlands and introduced the Jaegers to the Oatlands team.
They were tapped to lead the Emmet House renovation—with Hoffman as the lead designer—which they finished in the spring. Their touches add elegance to the Emmet House while remaining true to its rustic charm.
One of the strong points for visitors is the ability to feel at home. “You experience the estate—you have the thing all to yourself,” Oatlands Development Director Matt Kraycinovich said.
DuVal and Hoffmann’s design care is evident throughout the house—from the luxury of the bridal suite, to the more masculine feel of the groomsmen’s quarters downstairs, and updated kitchen.
Hoffmann meticulously scoured area antique shops and sourced fabrics, some of which were selected to accent the colors of Dows’ artwork, while Diana Jaeger also put her mark on some of the design aspects.
Miller said the project is “so much more than just repairs and maintenance,” noting that Oatlands constantly has to generate resources to fund its preservation and educational work. He said The Hamlet will provide new uses—some of which may not be apparent yet. He thanked the Jaegers for “embracing the idea that we are investing in the future.”
“Without John and Diana this project would never have been possible,” Kraycinovich said.