Driving through Morven Park's wrought-iron gates is like entering a living history book. The estate—which encompasses more than 1,000 acres of lawns, wooded areas, and boxwood gardens—has been home to some of the nation's most prominent public servants. In fact, the gates themselves were a gift from the citizens of Baltimore to former mayor Thomas Swann Jr., the estate's 19-century owner. After passing the gate, the road winds around to a grand lawn and a mansion that dates back to 1781. As visitors enter this grand estate, they step through a Greek Revival portico into a foyer awash with Flemish tapestries and ornately carved wood furnishings, where velvet-curtained doorways lead into a Renaissance great hall, a Jacobean dining room, and a French drawing room. Nearby, intricate displays highlight the life of Westmoreland Davis, the 55th governor of Virginia who lived in Morven Park during the early 20th century.
But Morven Park's history dates back further than that. In the winters of 1861 and 1862, the 17th Mississippi Regiment of the Confederate States of America built log huts on the park's grounds. Today, reproductions of these structures stand, serving as historical stages where re-enactors demonstrate the firing of Civil War–era guns. Directly adjacent to the Civil War site lies Winmill Carriage Museum, which showcases a more peaceful side of the 1800s. More than 40 carefully preserved horse-drawn vehicles reveal how city streets looked before the invention of conveyor belts.
Not everything at Morven Park is stuck in the past, though. At the onsite equestrian center, riders and their trusty steeds jump, canter, and compete across indoor and outdoor arenas. The center is also home to the Loudoun Therapeutic Riding program, which works with individuals who have physical, cognitive, or psychological challenges.