The Wellington at River Farm property has an extensive history dating back to the colonial period and has become a community landmark. It has great significance in the built environment, potential archaeological resources, existing landscape, and the use of the property by the community.
George Washington purchased the River Farm tract in 1760. The entirety of the River Farm property is illustrated in George Washington’s 1793 survey of the five farms that were part of his Mount Vernon landholdings. George Washington provided use of the River Farm property to his nephew George Augustine Washington, who died in 1793. George Augustine’s widow, Fanny Bassett Washington, married Tobias Lear, George Washington’s private secretary.
In 1859, Washington's heirs sold the property to Quaker Stacy Snowden. The Snowden Family sold Wellington in 1866, and the house passed through two more owners until it was purchased by Malcolm Matheson, Sr. in 1919. Over the next twenty years Matheson continually modified, rehabilitated, and added to the existing dwelling in the Colonial Revival style.
Wellington remained in domestic use until 1973, when the property was purchased by the American Horticultural Society (AHS), which uses the property as its national headquarters. The main house was refurbished soon after AHS acquired Wellington. AHS also modified the landscape in keeping with their purpose of promoting horticulture and promoting the conservation of the country’s natural plant heritage. The AHS site is typically open to the public and has developed into a community asset.