Stratford Hall Plantation is a Virginia plantation dating to prior to the Revolutionary war. The Lee family built the Stratford Hall Plantation on the south shore of the Potomac River in Virginia.
The plantation is to the east of Pope’s Creek. Pope Creek is the birthplace of George Washington. I mentioned Pope Creek Plantation in the post about George Washington and Mount Vernon in our last week’s article. If you missed it here is a link. Washington’s Greatest Gift
Family ties to England
Unlike George Washington’s birthplace on Pope Creek and also unlike Mount Vernon, Stratford House was built big from the very start. The Lee family was very well connected politically to the English government. Thomas Lee and his family members served as Colony Upper House and of the King’s Council of Virginia, Royal Governor of Virginia, and other high-ranking political and military appointments.
Like my article on George Washington, this will be a collection of pictures of the plantation. Stratford Hall Plantation dates to the 1730s. This house is an example of Georgian style. The Georgian style is named after the Monarchs of England (George I-IV). Colonel Thomas Lee first purchased the property and built the plantation and manor house. Colonel Thomas was the great-grandson of Richard Lee who immigrated to Virginia in the last half of the 1600s.
Like every plantation, you have to look at these places with the knowledge of how the house was built and operated by the unpaid labor of the enslaved people. Without slavery, this level of wealth would have been impossible to obtain.
Like all plantations prior to the Civil War, enslaved servants performed all the labor necessary for prosperity. Servants lived in modest accommodations close to their jobs. After the abolition of slavery, nearly all plantations failed due to the lack of free labor. Stratford Hall Plantation failed three times before the Civil War. Free labor alone wasn’t enough to guarantee financial success.
Stratford Hall Plantation servants
Robert E. Lee
General Robert E. Lee was born at Stratford Hall Plantation but never owned it. The Lee family starting at the time of the Revolutionary War was deeply in debt. William Somerville purchased Stratford Hall Plantation in 1822. Like the Lee family, Somerville found that the debts tied to the property were so large that he lost it to bankruptcy sale. Henry Storke purchased the plantation from bankruptcy and gradually the plantation fell into disrepair. The Robert E. Lee Memorial Association purchased the plantation in 1929. They operate it as a museum and historical interpretive site.