The ca 1933 photographs of Happy Retreat used on this site are public access images from The Historic American Buildings Survey collection of the Library of Congress' American Memory project.
Three Phases of Construction
A recent historical architectural analysis of Charles Washington’s Happy Retreat completed by Matt Webster, former architectural historian at Kenmore, the Fredericksburg estate of Betty Washington, sister of George and Charles, indicates that the home’s development proceeded in three phases, as shown in the accompanying figure.
Phase 1 construction (in red) consisted of the old stone kitchen and a portion of the west wing. Phase 2, show in blue, consisted of the brick portion of the kitchen and the one-story east wing. Phase 3, which was undertaken in 1837 after the purchase of Happy Retreat by Judge Isaac Douglass, resulted in the addition of the second stories to the two wings and completion of a large 2-1/2 story central portion connecting them.
Today, an assessment of the house and outbuildings by an expert in historic preservation finds the mansion structurally sound and, except for a few minor repairs, the needed improvements to the house are cosmetic in nature. The separate kitchen, smokehouse and octagonal schoolhouse will require more substantial restoration in order to support future activities. An archaeological survey also will be used to plan the restoration of the house and grounds.