Historic Structures

Sully Plantation, Chantilly Virginia

Date added: September 7, 2016 Categories: Virginia House Plantations & Farms

Originally patented by "Captain" Henry Lee of Westmoreland County, possibly in 1712 or at any rate by 1725. The estate was inherited by his son, Henry Lee of "Leesylvania", who may have established quarters on the property. In his will; Henry Lee of Leesylvania" left his land (then in Loudoun) to his sons, Richard Bland and Theoderick. The older, Richard Bland, selected the northern half, which became his "Sully" plantation. On February 1, l8ll Richard Bland Lee sold to his cousin, Francis Lightfoot Lee. "Sully" passed out of the Lee family in 1839. It was subsequently owned by two families from Dutchess County, New York, a circumstance worth recalling since it may have some bearing in the development of the unusual and engaging piazza. At the time the property was acquired by the Civil Aeronautics Authority, "Sully" was the home of Mr. Frederick Nolting of the State Department.

On June 19, VJ9k9 Richard Bland Lee married Elizabeth Collins of Philadelphia and brought her to "Sully". They spent their honeymoon in a large hewnlog house, dating from his bachelor days, but which disappeared about 1870. While the Lees were residing in the "honeymoon cottage", Liza*s fa-feher made them a visit and penned a letter home to her mother casmenting upon the construction then nearing completion. A fragment which has been preserved merits quoting below:

They are obliged to go more than three miles to get sand to make mortar for the new house, which is nearly all done but the Plastering and Painting and the Piazza across the front. It is a very clever house, has an elegant hall IS feet wide and a handsome staircase and two very pretty rooms on the first floor. One is 19 by 20 feet and the other 20 by 17 feet. There is two, large and one small chamber in the second story and one handsome and large chamber in the third or garrett story, nearly square with a large window in the gable and another good lodging room besides. Indeed it is and will be a very neate handsome house.

"The Kitchen is about 60 feet from the house and is a finer one than is in a twenty miles square, and it is, in fact, a Kitchen and Laundry with very handsome chimney with cranes in them. Indeed it is, properly speaking, a compleate Double Kitchen or Kitchen and Washouse and on each end of the . (end of text)

Further corroboration of the buklding date occurs in a letter dated October 24, 1797 from Thomas Lee Shippen to his father and written at "Sully":

"..This is the seat of Mr. R. B. Lee in Loudoun County, 27 miles from Alexandria, 25 miles from Dumfries and 50 miles from Fredericksburg. We arrived here yesterday from Leesburg before dinner and the great importunity of this delightful family has persuaded us to pass this day with them, when it promised to be like yesterday, a fine one. It has turned out a very bad one and it rained harder than I have seen it rain these many months* Happy travelers to have such a shelter from the storm. I would fain give you some idea of the elegance in which this kinsman has settled himself to make amends for the caprice of his fellow citizens . The house is new, built by himself about three years ago, and lately furnished in Philadelphia with every article of silver-plate, mahogany, Wilton carpeting and glassware that can be conceived of that you will find in the very best furnished houses in Philadelphia, parlours and chambers completely equiped with every luxury as well as convenience."

"Sully" has been enlarged but never basically altered. The east wing is roughly contemporaneous with the main block and was probably added before l800. The west wing or attached kitchen was developed about 1850 with a shed roof which subsequently was altered to a gable.