Once home of James Monroe, fifth president of the United States. President Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, owned the property from 1793 to 1826 and made it their official residence from 1799 to 1823. After the Monroes’ death, the name of their farm was changed from Highland to Ash Lawn; today both names are used. Ash Lawn-Highland was opened for public visitation in 1931 by philanthropist Jay Winston Johns and his wife Helen Lambert Johns.
Upon his death in late 1974, Mr. Johns bequeathed Ash Lawn-Highland to the College of William and Mary, where James Monroe studied from 1774 to 1776. Accepting the Johns’ bequest “to operate this property as a historic shrine for the education of the general public,” the College initiated new programs in restoration and interpretation at Ash Lawn-Highland. It continues to own and operate the site today.
Ash Lawn-Highland continues the tradition begun by the Monroes of welcoming friends, neighbors, dignitaries, and visitors to share what James Monroe called his “place of comfort and hospitality”. It is the scene of meetings, parties, picnics, living history interpretations, and a variety of special events. Throughout the year our activities provide a glimpse of nineteenth-century life through architecture, decorative arts, and craft demonstrations on the grounds. Ash Lawn-Highland is also a gathering place for William and Mary alumni and staff. We are currently at work on new plans for visitor experiences at the site. Starting this spring, the house tour will enter through the Monroe period north door rather than through the house’s later nineteenth-century addition. This will allow a visitor to view the modest house nestled in its surroundings before seeing the interior. Dialogue with notable scholars of Monroe and the time period are helping us to focus on Monroe’s many accomplishments in forming and strengthening the United States.
Ash Lawn-Highland is open year-round. If this is your first visit to Ash Lawn-Highland, we welcome you and hope you will return often to note the evolution of our interpretation efforts and to participate in our special events. If you have visited before, we are grateful for your continuing interest. All of us hope that each of you has an enjoyable and rewarding visit.