Oatlands Seeks New Executive Director

Oatlands Seeks New Executive Director

The Oatlands Historic House and Gardens seeks a new executive director as Bonnie LePard recently left for a similar position at the Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Matt Kraycinovich, director of development at the National Historic Landmark, became interim executive director in late January while the board conducts a national search. “Oatlands will miss Bonnie’s leadership and inspirational enthusiasm,” board Chairman Doug Miller said in a statement. “But we’re proud that Bonnie’s wonderful new opportunity reflects Oatlands’ growing national stature in the field of historic preservation.”

Since heading the nonprofit attraction starting in late 2015, LePard has led upgrades to the Inn at Oatlands Hamlet, opened a new visitors’ center, and organized more public events. The latter included lectures on slavery at the former plantation and commemorations of the country’s entries into World Wars I and II. Oatlands regularly holds tours of its 1804-built mansion and grounds, as well as steeplechase races, formal teas and holiday events.

LePard said she will miss her time at Oatlands, which is about six miles south of downtown Leesburg, but the offer was “too good to refuse.” Besides being able to continue to advocate for historic preservation, she will be able to walk to work from her home in the District.

The 400-acre site features the second oldest greenhouse in the nation among its restored buildings and well-maintained gardens. Founder George Carter started growing wheat before branching out to other crops. They also raised sheep and had a gristmill, sawmill and vineyard. The family owned as many as 133 slaves there in 1860, the most in Loudoun County at that time, according to the Oatlands website.

The home was briefly used as a Confederate headquarters during the Civil War by Brig. Gen. Nathan “Shanks” Evans.  Stilson Hutchins, founder of The Washington Post, bought the mansion in 1897 and sold it to the Eustis family in 1903.

William Corcoran Eustis, a U.S. Army captain and personal assistant to General John J. Pershing during World War I, and his wife, Edith Morton Eustis, a daughter of former Vice President Levi Morton, entertained some prominent guests there. Those included Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

William Eustis, who partly bought the plantation as a country home to be closer to fox hunts, died in 1921. After Edith Eustis passed away in 1964, the family donated the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1965.