Northern Virginia’s slice of Camelot: The Kennedys in Fauquier County, 1961-63

November 21, 2013

Andre Fox, the grandson of Wexford caretaker David Lloyd, shows a small lawn sign purchased by Jacqueline Kennedy to denote her family’s presence in Fauquier County. (Tom Jackman/The Washington Post)

Even before John F. Kennedy moved into the White House in January 1961, he and his wife Jacqueline were looking for a weekend retreat away from Washington. They settled on the Middleburg area, first in an estate they leased called Glen Ora, then in a second property which they purchased and built a new house on called Wexford, both near Route 50 along the Fauquier-Loudoun county line. They hired a married couple as housekeepers at both properties, David and Catherine Lloyd, and when the Kennedys left the area, Jacqueline Kennedy bequeathed a few personal items to the Lloyds which are now being seen publicly for the first time.

Jacqueline Kennedy with David Lloyd, center, and daughter Caroline at Glen Ora, the Kennedys' Fauquier County retreat in 1961-62. (Howard Allen)
Jacqueline Kennedy with David Lloyd, center, and her daughter Caroline at Glen Ora, the Kennedys’ Fauquier County retreat in 1961-62. (Howard Allen)

As early as December 1960, the press was reporting that the president-elect and his wife were looking for a house in Virginia. “I think it’s good for young children to get out of the governmental atmosphere,” Kennedy told reporters. At the time, daughter Caroline was three and John Jr. was two weeks old. They soon found a 400-acre property in Upperville, Glen Ora, owned by Gladys Byfield Tartiere, and she agreed to lease the estate to the Kennedys starting in February 1961. The housekeepers at Glen Ora were the Lloyds, their grandson Andre Fox of Leesburg said.

Jacqueline Kennedy liked to ride horses and Fox said his grandfather helped take care of the Kennedys’ horses and taught Caroline to ride. Press reports from the time show that Jacqueline Kennedy was a frequent visitor to Glen Ora and the Middleburg social scene, and she often returned to the area long after they had moved away. Fox said his grandfather “loved the Kennedy kids. He loved John John. He said Caroline could be a handful.” Fox said he and his siblings were envious of how much time their grandfather spent with the Kennedys, rather than his own family. “He was ‘The Butler’ before that movie ever came out.”

In the 1990s, when Lloyd was receiving dialysis treatments, Fox sat with him for hours and heard stories of life with the Kennedys. He said Lloyd would take the horses down to the White House for the children to ride. “He was the guy kids loved and respected,” Fox said, “they wanted to be with David.” Lloyd appears in some of the 8-mm film shot of the Kennedys around Glen Ora and Wexford that is posted on the website of the JFK Library.

David Lloyd, right, assists Jacqueline Kennedy and toddler son John F. Kennedy Jr. at the Glen Ora estate in Fauquier County. (Howard Allen)
David Lloyd, right, assists Jacqueline Kennedy and toddler son John F. Kennedy Jr. at the Glen Ora estate in Fauquier County. (Howard Allen)

The Kennedys were frequently seen around Middleburg, going to church in town, and the First Lady attended horse events. Life magazine followed her around for a feature, photographing her riding and taking a bad spill. She held the family’s 45th birthday party for Kennedy at Glen Ora, then stayed behind while the president enjoyed a larger, more renowned birthday bash at Madison Square Garden. She reportedly spent $10,000 redecorating Glen Ora, and then had to restore it to its previous look before vacating.

Tartiere informed the Kennedys she would not lease Glen Ora to them after 1962, so they found another property on Hatchers Mill Road in what is now called Marshall, Va., but was then called Atoka. According to the book “The Kennedy White House: Family Life and Pictures” by Carl Sferazza Anthony, Jackie Kennedy set about designing her dream home, with 15 rooms on one floor and plenty of space for riding and sledding.

The First Lady named the property Wexford, after the county in Ireland where the Kennedy family originated. President Kennedy asked the Lloyds to move to Wexford and work for them there, and they did, Fox said. The house was completed in June 1963, The Post reported, though the president made only two visits there, one in October and one in November, before his assassination. The 167-acre property was put on the market last month, for $11 million.

Jackie Kennedy sold Wexford in 1964 for $225,000. The Lloyds helped her move out, and she gave them a rocking donkey and rocking rocket that her children used, but had outgrown, as well as the lawn or driveway sign she had made declaring whose house this was. “A cheap, aluminum, very non-presidential looking sign,” Fox said of the sign declaring this property belonged to “The John F. Kennedys.” She also gave Lloyd a steel boot scraper that once fell apart and smashed into her leg, injuring her, Fox said.

The rocking donkey and rocking airplane used by Caroline and John Kennedy Jr. at Wexford, the Kennedys' second retreat home in Fauquier County. (Tom Jackman/The Washington Post)
The rocking donkey and rocking airplane used by Caroline and John Kennedy Jr. at Wexford, the Kennedys’ second retreat home in Fauquier County. (Tom Jackman/The Washington Post)

Fox said the items should go to Caroline Kennedy, now the U.S. ambassador to Japan, or if not her to the Kennedy Museum in Boston. He said he may hold a public showing of them, and other items, in Middleburg if the Kennedys aren’t interested.

The Lloyds continued to live at Wexford for years after the Kennedys left. David Lloyd died in 1994, and Catherine Lloyd is alive and well in St. Louis, Va., also in Fauquier in Loudoun, at the age of 95. She declined to be interviewed.

Fox said he was looking to his grandfather for spiritual guidance on how to dispose of the Kennedy family memorabilia. “He was a great man,” Fox said. “The way that granddad carried himself, I can’t help but wonder what his conversations with the president were like. He commanded respect in a quiet, gentle way.”

The photos of David Lloyd with the Kennedys were taken by Middleburg photographer Howard Allen, who published the book “Unforgotten Times” about the Kennedys in Middleburg last month. 

UPDATE: I erroneously placed St. Louis, Va., in Fauquier, although I actually knew it was in Loudoun. Fixed. 

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998. In 2011 he launched The State of NoVa blog, a state strictly defined as the boundaries of four counties and one city: Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Alexandria.
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