The Warrenton Antiquarian Society
Founded in 1949, the Warrenton Antiquarian Society aims to promote historic education and preservation, and to preserve and conserve Weston, a 19th- and 20th-century home.
The Warrenton Antiquarian Society has an annual Open House when Weston and its outbuildings are open to the public. Schools and private groups are encouraged to schedule tours throughout the year to learn about Weston's rich history. Our docents are in each of the outbuildings pointing out items of special interest, telling stories and answering questions. Through our Archives Committee, we share special collections with Dumbarton House, once owned by Joseph Nourse.
We are very proud to celebrate this period of Virginia's history and hope that after seeing and learning about Weston, visitors will return again and again to enjoy being a part of Weston.
The mission of the Warrenton Antiquarian Society is to preserve, research, study and document Weston's history. Not only are we preserving Weston and its outbuildings, but we are also researching and archiving the historical records of the Nourse family, their friends and relatives, Weston’s farm workers and the local Casanova area.
Tours and Presentations
Check here to find out what is happening at Weston Farmstead.
The History of Weston
From the air, the 1724 boundary line of the 10,227 acre royal grant owned by Robert “King” Carter can still be seen. The land that would become Weston remained in the Carter family until 1817 when it was purchased by Thomas Fitzhugh. By then, substantial farms had been carved out of the forest by hard labor. The small village of Three Mile Switch, later renamed Casanova, developed by 1852 as a station on the railroad spur to Warrenton. In 1853 Giles Fitzhugh would pass from his inherited land, leaving cultivated fields and woodlots and freedom for all of his enslaved people.
The Nourse Family
Meanwhile a New York City businessman longed for a refuge of trees, livestock and good planting soil. In December 1858 Charles Joseph Nourse, Jr. bought the Giles Fitzhugh farm and named it Weston. The Nourse family had become prominent in America since the emigration of James Nourse and his family in 1769. His wife Sarah did her part by bearing 21 children. The eldest, Joseph, became the first Register of The Treasury under George Washington. His home is now the site of Washington National Cathedral. When Joseph’s son, Major Charles Nourse, married Rebecca Morris, the family was blended with the histories of her father, Anthony Morris, emissary to Spain, and the Pembertons who had sought religious freedom and good land by emigrating with William Penn. As their eldest surviving son, Charles Nourse, Jr. was educated in business and married Margaret Kemble whose family began the prominent Cold Spring Foundry near West Point, N.Y. Their military connections would soon prove useful.
The Civil War Era
“Some soldiers were here, wanted to buy bacon, offered a counterfeit Confederate note. I suppose each human being thinks his or her lot more difficult to perform well than that of others. I feel if I only knew what to pray for, what to desire I should be more content.”
Margaret Kemble Nourse, 6 July 1862, Weston
Unlike many Virginia houses, Weston survived the Civil War intact. Before the war, the original log cabin had been expanded by Charles’ youngest brother Pemberton. Pem was killed at the battle of First Manassas after joining the Confederate Army shortly before. Margaret, Charles and their son moved to Weston for the 1862 farming season to save the crops and sheep. Margaret kept an intimate diary of their wartime life. The Irish immigrant Edward Donnelly and his wife protected Weston for the rest of the war with a safeguard from the Union Army. For a decade after the war Weston’s cropland and livestock were restored and farm buildings expanded by a combination of Charles’ earnings as a Pennsylvania foundry and iron mine manager and the labor of his brother-in-law, Charles C. Simms. Charles and Margaret returned for a few retirement years together and farming became the focus of their lives until 1883, when Margaret died.
The Postbellum Era
“I have hired Linton Edmonds for one year from January 1st as a lead farm hand to work + milking if necessary and look after my interests on this farm to the best of his ability… and to attend to the different kinds of stock every third Sunday—and feed horses every Sunday morning.”
Charles J. Nourse, 12 December 1888
A second marriage to Annie Carroll Simpson would dramatically change Charles’ life and Weston. Four children followed: Constance, Mary, Walter and Charlotte along with an expansion of the house, home schooling, parties, hay rides and riding horses. Mary would pass away while attending medical school. Walter would fight in World War I, returning to run a dairy farm and serve as a state agricultural agent. Constance, a talented artist and writer, cared for her mother and became Weston’s historian. Charlotte bred and trained her beloved horses and hounds, serving as the Master of Fox Hounds for the Casanova Hunt.
World War II
“There is a quality of spirit in all of it that is not of the world civilians know—but I think belongs only to those who have ‘laid down their lives’—and squarely faced eternity, sat on its door step, as it were.”
Constance Nourse, 27 June 194
World War II had a profound impact on the Weston family as the sisters focused their energies on supporting the young soldiers at Vint Hill Station. Along with other dedicated Warrenton citizens, they ran the Serviceman’s Club, held leadership jobs with the Red Cross and hosted hundreds of service men and women for weekends and meals at Weston. The old farm was again the location for weddings, horseback riding, canoe trips and Virginia ham dinners. For decades soldiers with fond memories of their welcome at Weston have returned to visit.
“Of the Casanova Hunt the thing that stands out, beyond understanding runs, beyond even its country, its members and its mounts—or rather in them, and through them—is the spirit of comradeship and courtesy, a heart as it were.”
Charlotte Nourse, 22 September 1927
When Weston was inherited by the Warrenton Antiquarian Society in 1959, it came with all of these stories, waiting to enrich visitors with its 100 years of history. Choose the piece of history that most intrigues you and come to Weston. The rest of the stories await your visit.
Copyright Warrenton Antiquarian Society © 2017