One of the most common questions asked at Oatlands is ‘where were/are the slave quarters?’
The short answer: we don’t know.
We do know that there were quarters, accounts differ on whether they were brick or stone, and we have conflicting reports on their possible locations as well. Some oral histories we have collected locate the slave quarters as running down the north wall of the garden, while some have them running along the east wall of the garden. Some accounts have them near the original main entrance to Oatlands, while others swear they were behind where the Eustis’ built their Carriage House. Archeology, ground penetrating radar, and infrared photography have unfortunately provided little from these leads. Despite numerous attempts to locate them, we have yet to give up. With a little help (actually… a lot of help) from Mike Clem, Loudoun County Archaeologist, we are digging up a few more areas to investigate. If anything, we will eliminate yet another spot as the location of the quarters and hopefully narrow in on other potential locations.
Other than where they lived, we are also interested in learning about who these slaves were. We are busy combing through not only our own archives, but archives within Loudoun and surrounding areas to put together a complete picture of life at Oatlands. Keep checking back because over the next few months, as our research starts to unfold, we’ll keep posting on what we’ve uncovered, or what seems to be alluding us in our efforts to understand more.