Click to See More Photos of This Site CRITICAL EVALUATION
Now containing history on the town of Dumfries, “ Virginia's Oldest Continuously Chartered Town,” the Weems-Botts House also serves as a museum. The structure originally served as a vestry house for the Quantico Church. Parson Mason Locke Weems in 1789 bought the building and converted the small space into a bookstore. Weems, who was a bit of a traveling salesman, wrote in the house what is considered the first biography of George Washington, a pamphlet called “The Life and Memorable Actions of George Washington.” In it Weems gave life to the legend of Washington's cutting down the cherry tree. The writer sold the property to Benjamin Botts, an attorney who defended Aaron Burr, in 1802.

Today the small house features remnants of both of these men as well as the Merchant family, which enlarged the home when it occupied the property between 1869 and 1968. The structure fell into disrepair and was slated to be razed and replaced by apartments when concerned citizens asserted that the structure was historically valuable. Demolishment was halted and the house was converted to a museum in 1975. It is a tiny structure whose varied history is sufficiently presented through period furniture and artifacts. Also included in the museum is a display on the history of the town of Dumfries , which is understandable as the structure is owned by Historic Dumfries, Virginia, Inc. That display provides visitors with a deeper perspective of what the town was like when the former residents of the home lived.

Weems-Botts House

Virginia Landmarks Register
April 15, 1975

National Register of Historic Places
May 12, 1975

300 West Duke Street
Prince William County

Montpelier Ellen Glasgow House


This site was created by Emily Kane as part of the University of Virginia's American Studies program.
For more information about AS@UVA, click below.

American Studies at U.Va.