Mount Airy

John Tayloe III

Hon. John Tayloe III (September 1770 – March 23, 1828) was prominent in business, government, and social circles. He was the son of John Tayloe II, builder of Mount Airy. A highly successful plantation owner, he took an active part in public affairs. As a military officer, he also served in the Virginia General Assembly and Senate of Virginia for nine years. Among his guests at Mount Airy were men of the American Revolution, including the Marquis de Lafayette and his wife Marie. John Tayloe was a Federalist and a close personal friend of General GeorgeWashington. Tayloe built the Octagon House in Washington, D.C. in 1799, residing there in the winter. The Octagon served as the temporary home of President and Mrs. Madison during the war of 1812 after the burning of the White House by the British. The Treaty of Ghent ending the war was signed there.


The land where Mount Airy is situated was owned by the Tayloe family of Virginia for over one hundred years when Colonel John Tayloe II, a fourth generation tobacco planter, began construction of the house. The project was started around 1761 with completion in 1764 and was actually a horse farm first and foremost. Colonel Tayloe used reference books of the day to incorporate architectural themes that give Mount Airy a feeling of strength. Several of racing heritage's greatest horses lived and were bred while at Mount Airy and owned or partly owned by John Tayloe II and they included; Selima, Sir Archie and Grey Diomed. The original stable and a few outbuildings including a smokehouse and dairy/ice-house stand to this day. The oldest surving Orangery in North America is also here.

Mount Airy, an architectural masterpiece of American colonialism, owns a commanding view of the Rappahannock River valley perched upon a small hill looking westward towards the town of Tappahannock, founded itself in 1608 by Captain John Smith. The estate borders Catpoint Creek to the west and the Tayloe Wildlife Refuge to the south.

Col. Tayloe's son-in-law Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was housed nearby, in a manor built for him by Col. Tayloe, known as Menokin. The grave of Francis Lightfoot Lee and his wife Rebecca Tayloe are located in the Tayloe family cemetery on the Mount Airy estate.

Beloved father, husband, brother and grandfather, the late Lt. Colonel Henry Gwynne Tayloe, Jr, a decorated veteran of WWII and Korea and a 1936 graduate of VMI, grew up in Middleburg, Va., retired to Mount Airy and lived happily here for many years with his wife Polly Montague of Charleston, SC and their children Anne, Courtenay, William and Gwynne, Jr. Also an assembly of mis-acquired Labrador Retrievers, English Setters, German Shepherds and Dachshunds. Grandson John Tayloe and wife Catherine, their two young children, a Dachshund, two German Shorthairs and multiple duck dogs live and manage the estate currently.



Mount Airy (circa 1682)