Kenmore History

Kenmore Plantation in the Fall Kenmore built by the Lewises

Kenmore was built in the 1770's by Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis, sister of George Washington. This house was originally part of a plantation of almost 1,300 acres just outside the village of Fredericksburg.

The only buildings to survive from the Lewis plantation are the main house and a store near the river. Other buildings on the original property were of wood and included a kitchen, a dairy, a laundry, a meat house, store houses, farm buildings, and slave quarters.

Many people lived and worked on the plantation, including the Lewises, 4 of their 8 surviving children, and over 80 slaves. The house was built by skilled tradesmen (some recent immigrants from England), indentured servants (most from Ireland), and enslaved African Americans.

Fielding Lewis lived in the house until December of 1781, when he died just weeks after Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington. Betty remained at Kenmore for another 14 years although the property was inherited by Fielding's oldest son, John, who was the last Lewis family member to own Kenmore. John sold the property in 1797.

Kenmore named in the 19th century

After 1797, the plantation was sold several times. The Gordon family purchased the property in 1819, later naming it "Kenmore" after their ancestral home in Scotland (Kenmuir). The Gordons added the slate roof and stone portico that are still in existence today. They occupied the property until just before the Civil War.

Kenmore saved from destruction

The house remained in private hands until the Kenmore Association (now known as The George Washington Foundation) saved the house from destruction or division into apartments in the early 1920s.

Kenmore designated a National Historic Landmark

In 1970, the National Park Service designated Kenmore as a National Historic Landmark.

Learn more about the several owners of Historic Kenmore and how it was saved.