The History of Seven Oaks Farm and Vineyards
The estate is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been owned by a number of families in Albemarle County who figure prominently in local religious, educational and political history.
The Reverend Samuel Black, the first Presbyterian minister in Albemarle County, purchased the land in 1751. Black’s son, Samuel, built a log home on the property which was also used as a tavern. Black’s Tavern was one of many stops along the expanding westward travel route, and counts Lewis and Clark among its many visitors. The original structure has since been moved to a neighboring property, but can be easily viewed from the vineyard entrance of Seven Oaks.
Alexander Garrett, a prominent attorney who later became the first Bursar of the University of Virginia, purchased the property after Black’s death in 1815. Garrett gave the estate to his son, Dr. John Bolling Garrett, one of the first students to enroll at UVa. Around 1842, Dr. Garrett built the GreekRevival style manor home that graces Seven Oaks today.
Subsequent owners included the Harris family, who had ties to prominent social figures. Prior to her marriage to Mr. Graham Harris, Genevieve Harris was wed to Harry Langhorne. Harry was the brother of Irene Gibson (the original Gibson Girl) and socialite Nancy Astor (Viscountess Astor). Genevieve and her famous sisters-in-law spent their vacations at the farm before it became her permanent home.
Perhaps the most intriguing story about Seven Oaks Farm is of the seven white oaks that once stood on the south lawn in front of the manor home. These majestic trees were each named for a Virginia president. In 1954, Hurricane Hazel destroyed all but one of the oaks. Given the estate’s ties to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, it seems fitting that the lone surviving tree was the one named for Thomas Jefferson. That oak tree stands proudly on the property to this day.