Chantilly: Step into History

Chantilly: Step into History

Sully Plantation, restored in 1975, is celebrating its 40 years.


Sully Historic Site

3650 Historic Sully Way

Chantilly, VA 20151



For a walk through 19th century plantation life in Northern Virginia, area residents can visit Chantilly’s Sully Historic Site for guided tours and other programming.

Sully Historic site, a plantation home built in the 1790s, is on the National Register for Historic Places and accredited by the American Association of Museums. Richard Bland Lee, Northern Virginia’s first congressional representative and the uncle of Civil War General Robert E. Lee, and his family were the first inhabitants of the plantation, complete with outbuildings slave quarters.

“We are the only remnant of Fairfax County from the 1790s and early 19th century,” Noreen McCann, visitor services manager, said. “With Dulles Airport down the road and apartments, buildings and all this technology around us, this is a little sea of green that represents what Fairfax County was like in the past.”

Sully Historic Site, also referred to as Sully Plantation, has been run by Fairfax County Park Authority since 1959. Rich in history, the sprawling home’s last owner and resident was Frederick Nolting, the U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam from 1961 to 1963.

McCann said Sully Plantation was completely restored in 1975, so the site is celebrating its 40 years this year.

“We are having a major celebration this year,” McCann said. “On Sept. 6, all tours and activities are free in honor of our milestone.”

Sully Plantation sprawls 65 acres and was once home to slaves and tenant farmers in addition to Richard Bland Lee and his family. The outbuildings include a kitchen, representative slave quarters, a stone dairy and a smoke house. There are guided tours of both the main house and of the outbuildings and of the representative slave quarters. Visitors will learn about life in Northern Virginia during the colonial and federal periods of history.

Tours for adults are $7 each, but if you take both tours on the same day, the total amount is just $9, according to McCann. Museum hours are seasonal, and currently they are open every week day except Tuesday, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

A taste of history isn’t the only thing you can come away with. Another activity that Sully Plantation offers is ice cream and butter making classes, available to children and adults alike.

Perhaps Fairfax County’s oldest attraction, Sully Historic Site is a popular field trip destination for area schools, beyond Fairfax County.

“When schools start back up,” McCann said, “we’ll have lots of tours. We get classes from Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Fauquier County, and even schools in Maryland and West Virginia.”

She added that the historic site has about 24,000 visitors on average per year.

Amid a technology community sits a landmark from the days of Northern Virginia before the internet, or even electricity.

“I think the coolest thing about Sully Historic Site is learning about the people of the past, and how they managed everything before technology,” McCann said. “This was a very complex period with lots of different components, with slavery and other politics. It has gotten my interest in genealogy. It makes you wonder what your own ancestors did without plumbing or technology.”