Virginia Landmarks Register
April 15, 1975
National Register of Historic Places
May 12, 1975
300 West Duke Street
Prince William County
Located on West Duke Street in Dumfries , the Weems-Botts House now is a museum emphasizing the lives of its two more memorable owners, the writer and Parson Mason Locke Weems and lawyer Benjamin Botts. Weems is recognized as the first biographer of George Washington. His writing on the first U.S. president gave life to the cherry-tree myth. Weems traveled around selling books and used this building as a small bookstore after its construction in 1798.
TEXT OF ENTRY ON VIRGINIA LANDMARKS REGISTER
"Parson Mason Locke Weems built the earliest portion of this structure ca. 1798 as a bookshop and temporary lodging after he retired from the Episcopal ministry. Weems, author of numerous moral tracts and lives of prominent Americans, was convinced that small, cheap books with uplifting messages would be an effective tool for enlightening the public. Here he wrote the pamphlet The Life and Memorable Actions of George Washington…, the first biography of Washington, containing the cherry-tree legend. Weems sold the building in 1802 to Benjamin Botts, one of the lawyers who defended Aaron Burr in his trial for treason. Botts used the building as his office until his death in the 1811 Richmond Theatre fire. The building received its two-story wing in the mid-19th century when it became a residence. Restored by Historic Dumfries, Virginia, Inc., it is now a museum."