Saved from Demolition by Local Citizens
The Marshall House, formerly known as Dodona Manor, is bound on its east and northeast side by residences dating from the late-18th to the early-20th centuries, and on the south and southeast sides by mid-to-late 20th-century retail development. To the west are former residences converted to office use that pre-date Marshall’s arrival at the Leesburg home, and therefore contribute to the Marshall-era viewshed that extends west from the front porch of the museum.
The property’s close proximity to adjacent commercial development in Leesburg made it an attractive site for redevelopment. By the 1980s a plan to destroy The Marshall House and redevelop the property into commercial townhouse offices was submitted to the Town of Leesburg. The prospect of this fate befalling the beloved home of one of America’s most honored heroes inspired B. Powell Harrison, a prominent Leesburg citizen, to establish the George C. Marshall Home Preservation Fund and serve as its director.
To save the property, the non-profit organization raised monies from public and private sources, particularly from the European Marshall Plan countries where Marshall is still well known. This funding, in conjunction with a significant reduction in the sale price of the property from the Winn family, enabled the Marshall Home Preservation Fund to purchase the property in 1995.
That same year, The Marshall House was placed in Leesburg’s Old and Historic District. In the following year, 1996, the property was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.
Exhibiting Marshall’s Original Belongings in his Restored Home
Approximately 90 percent of the Marshall Collection belonged to the Marshalls. It includes furniture, art, books, clothes, maps, Chinese furniture and artwork, trunks, personal items, and ephemeral objects that support the interpretation of the home during the most significant years of Marshall’s career, from his appointment as Chief of Staff of the Army through the post- World War II years when he served Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense.
More than 1,000 items were donated to Manor by Katherine Marshall’s grandchildren for display and research. Many of these artifacts were repaired or restored by specialists in furniture, art, book, and fabric conservation, using the book, George Catlett Marshall: Historic Furnishing Plan, by renowned historian and architectural restoration expert, Dr. William Seale.
Following the exterior restoration of The Marshall House in 2005, the collection was meticulously arranged in the museum in accordance with the room-by-room furnishing plan developed by Seale. The plan provided the basis for the museum’s interpretation, in addition to the culmination of 10 years of research and collection of information about The Marshall House from relatives, visitors and former employees. Information gleaned from these oral interviews is further supported by physical and documentary research.