- Arlington, VA
- Site Type:
- Monuments and Memorials, Civic Facilities, Archaeology and History, Historical Restoration
- New Deal Agencies:
- Work Relief Programs, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
- Quality of Information:
- Very Good
- Site Survival:
The Abingdon Plantation Historic Site is the birthplace of Nellie Custis (1779-1852), granddaughter of Martha Washington and step-granddaughter of George Washington. Following the death of her father (John Parke Custis) in 1781, Nelly and her brother, George Washington Parke Custis, moved to Mount Vernon and were raised by their grandparents.
The historic site is located between the two large parking garages at Washington National Airport, in between Thomas Avenue and West Entrance Road, Arlington, Virginia.
A Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) report describes the restoration work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934-35: “They landscaped the grounds and built a twenty-car parking lot and a new twenty-foot-long cinder access road with concrete gutters from the parkway to the site of the ruins. The CCC also built a reproduction well cover ‘as close as possible to the design of the well house which was in use when Nellie Custis lived there.’”
A Sunday Star article (August 5, 1934) reported more of the CCC’s labor: “The house foundations have been capped and steps have been taken to prevent the ruins from disintegrating… the grounds are being regraded and reseeded…”
The CCC’s preservation work contributed to a celebration of the historic site on June 1, 1935, attended by Agnes Peter, great-great-great granddaughter of Martha Washington, and others.
It is difficult to tell how much of the CCC’s footprint remains at the Abingdon Plantation Historic Site. For example, the well cover seems to be gone. Nevertheless, their work was vital to its initial and overall preservation.
“Eleanor ‘Nelly’ Parke Custis,” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (accessed May 5, 2020).
“Civilian Conservation Corps Activities in the National Capital Park Region of the National Park Service,” Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS No. DC-858), National Park Service, ca. 2005 (accessed May 3, 2020).
“Abingdon Restoring Work Progressing: Civilian Conservation Corps Has Done Much Work on Old Estate,” Sunday Star, August 5, 1934, p. B-4 (accessed May 3, 2020).
“Secretary Moore to Speak at Abingdon,” Sunday Star, May 26, 1935, p. E-4 (accessed May 3, 2020).
“Program Planned at Abingdon Tomorrow,” Evening Star, May 31, 1935, p. B-2 (accessed May 5, 2020).
Site originally submitted by Brent McKee on May 24, 2013.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.
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