Located along the north side of Georgetown Pike in Fairfax County, Drover’s Rest is a one-and-a-half story vernacular-style dwelling built in ca. 1757 to 1785 by prominent landowner Bryan Fairfax, in support of an 18th-century mill complex on Difficult Run known as Towlston Mill. Situated southwest of the Potomac River, the present property on which the dwelling stands once formed a portion of Fairfax’s larger estate, Towlston Manor. The Drover’s Rest setting retains its rural, wooded character, with heavy tree growth screening the house from the historic Madeira School in the east. The house continued to be associated with Towlston Mill into the 1840s, but after 1866 it was documented by William S. Oliver, one of its previous owners, as an ordinary for travelers along the Georgetown Pike into the early 20th century. Drover’s Rest also served as the local post office for the Prospect Hill community, possibly beginning as early as 1802, and the rehabilitated garage on the property once reportedly functioned as a general store during the late 1800s to early 1900s. Noted architectural writer Charles Harris Whitaker restored Drover’s Rest between around 1934 and 1938, though most accounts report that his work on the house was limited in scope and primarily focused on preserving the building’s original features. In 1975, renowned biologist and environmental conservationist Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy purchased Drover’s Rest, where he would live, entertain, and complete some of the most important work in his distinguished career until his death in 2021.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark