Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jackie Kennedy in the Virginia Hunt Country

Middleburg, Virginia is an old historic town in the middle of Virginia's famed "hunt country" about an hour west of Washington, DC on Route 50.  Some nearby towns include Aldie, Atoka, Millwood, Upperville, Delaplane and The Plains. Today the pricey area is home to prestiguous horse farms, the "upper crust" of the fox hunting world, and people who just love horses.

No one fit better into this world than Jackie Kennedy and when JFK was in the White House, they leased a lovely 400-acre farm called Glen Ora.

The lease began on February 1, 1961 and Jackie made frequent visits.  She spent over $10,000 to redecorate it (and had to return the house to its original state when she vacated it) and asked Sister Parish to help out.  That's FDR, Jr. and Jackie's sister Lee in the living room below.

Jackie and JFK spent many weekends here and sophisticated communications equipment had to be installed to enable the President to work here.  Some have said that he and Bobby plotted to kill Castro from Glen Ora.

Press Coverage of the lease (Collection of Steve Brawley)

Glen Ora was owned by Mrs. Gladys Raymond Tartiere and did not agree to sell it to the Kennedys.  Clark Clifford negotiated the lease (I used to ride the elevator with him when I worked in Washington and went to see him one day to ask him to autograph is memoirs when they came out in the early 90's a few years before he died).  William Walton, a mutual friend and former Time-Life war correspondent, convinced Mrs. Tartiere to lease the property.

Jackie would cancel White House engagements to go to Glen Ora.  She hosted the King of Pakistan Ayub Kahn at Glen Ora in September 1962 and he presented her with a horse. She hunted with the Orange County Hunt, likely the most prestiguous hunt in the entire country. 

(JFK Library)

For JFK's 40th birthday, Jackie and Paul Fout (a very good friend and Middleburg landmark in himself) to create a 3-hole golf course at Glen Ora.  She amused Jack by placing Confederate flags on the holes "that would not be visible from the road."  JFK and Ben Bradlee (of the Washington Post) inaugurated the course.

Press Coverage of the Lease (Steve Brawley Collection)

The Kennedys decided to build their own home in Middleburg and they bought 39 acres for $26K from a local farmer.  Regretfully they only spent two weekends together there before JFK died and old home movies exist today (they are on the Internet) from one of those weekends.  "Wexford" is in the Atoka area just west of Middleburg.  It is the only home designed from scratch by the pair.  It is the only known retreat used by two President (Regan leased Wexford in 1980 during the election) other than Camp David.

The house was done by the spring of 1963 and the Kennedy's rented it out since they were not moving out of Glen Ora til fall. Their first visit (Jackie and the President) to Wexford would not be until Oct. 25. They visited again on Nov. 10.

Jackie sold Wexford in 1964.

Jackie never lost her love for fox hunting and she came to Middleburg a lot in her later years and often stayed at The Red Fox Inn. 

By the 1980's she began spending more time in Virginia and she rented a small cottage about a mile from Wexford.  The house was sparse, nothing nearly as fancy as Glen Ora and Wexford and it was furnished with country antiques and French toile wallpaper.  No known photos of the interior exist when she used the house. 

Several items at the sale of her possessions at Sotheby's were in the house.

These must have been some of Jackie's happiest years.  Middleburg is indeed beautiful, sophisticated and horsey.  Jackie would always fit in.  Even Jack, who was not the horse and animal lover that Jackie was, must have enjoyed the quiet and solitude that a place like Middleburg can provide, even today, after the hustle and bustle of White House life.


  1. Amazing photos, thanks for sharing! I would like to visit sometime and see where these pictures were taken, do you know of some good rental property in Roanoke?

  2. JFK did not enjoy the quiet and solitude. He hated being alone and wanted people around him all the time.

  3. Except when he was philandering.

  4. Anyone man who doesn't take his marriage seriously is a prick.

  5. (correction) Any man


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