LEESBURG, Va. (WDVM) — Dodona Manor, a national historic landmark in Leesburg, was once the home of George C. Marshall, the man Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill referred to as the “Greatest American of the twentieth century.”
WDVM spoke to Rachel Thompson, the Marshall Historian at the Manor to learn more about Marshall’s service and his life at home.
“Marshall was a Five Star General, U.S. Army Chief of Staff during World War II, but after the war was over, he served as the Secretary of State, he also served as the President of the Red Cross and then was called back into service to become the Secretary of Defense,” explained Thompson.
In the early 1940’s Marshall’s wife, Katherine, sought out to purchase a home with proximity to Washington as Marshall was busy serving at Fort Myer in Arlington.
“Marshall’s wife, Katherine, wanted to find a place for him to get away, to relax because he lived at Quarter’s One, which was a busy fishbowl-like place. He loved to garden, and she was worried about the challenges that he faced and she wanted to have a place where he could relax,” said Thompson.
Marshall would spend leisurely weekends at the Manor during the war until he was able to reside there full-time in the early 1950’s when he retired with great honors.
“He finally did get to retire in 1951 after almost 50 years of service to this country and from 1951 to his death in 1959 he really could enjoy being here, working in his garden and being the grand old man of Leesburg,” stated Thompson.
The Manor home is preserved to be nearly identical to how it was left in the 50’s thanks to Marshall’s wife’s grandchildren who donated virtually all belongings and furnishings in the home.
“It’s very unusual, 95% of what you see when you come to visit was exactly where it was placed when the Marshall’s were living here,” expressed Thompson.
Thompson said Marshall was focused on serving his country and not particularly on how history would remember him, which could be why the Manor isn’t as well known as other attractions in the region, but might be the best kept secret.
“If you come here for a tour, you can learn a great deal more about this man who wasn’t into self-aggrandizement, but who did remarkable things for our country,” said Thompson.
The manor is open on weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. for guided tours.
Tickets can be purchased online and exterior self-guided tours are free. All active duty military and their immediate family can tour the home at no cost.