The dog sits regally overlooking the gardens at Oatlands, a National Trust Historic Site located south of Leesburg.
The employees at Oatlands fondly refer to him as “Rusty,” which partly describes the state he’s in and his current plight. While the exact historic details of this exemplary canine statue are unknown, the dog was brought to Oatlands sometime in the 1920s or 30s by William Corcoran Eustis and his wife, Edith Morton Eustis. The couple who owned Corcoran House in Washington, DC, purchased Oatlands in 1903. They sold Corcoran House in 1919 and, sometime after that, brought the dog with them to Oatlands.
The dog originally sat upon a wall at the Corcoran House mansion which was located near Lafayette Square in Washington, DC—now the site of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building.
The dog is made of cast iron that has been coated to protect the metal. Some think that, given the dog’s warm expression and demeanor the statue may have been an homage to a much-loved family pet. The coating on the statue has deteriorated, exposing it to the elements and causing it to rust.
“Rusty” is beloved by Oatlands visitors, particularly children. Given his location in the garden, he has become an icon and much sought-out feature of the Oatlands garden.
The Virginia Association of Museums recently launched a contest of the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts in Virginia and “Rusty” is part of the list. The list is on the Museum website where public voting is encouraged to determine the public’s top priority on the list.
“We’re hoping the public will support Oatlands by voting to raise the visibility of our need to save this historic and beloved dog,” Oatlands Executive Director Andrea McGimsey said in a statement. “The dog represents the beauty and history of Oatlands and our need to preserve and protect this property and everything here.”
Saving Rusty marks the kickoff of a fundraising campaign that will raise general funds for the property including funds to repair “Rusty,” Oatlands propagation greenhouse which is thought to be the second oldest of its kind in the nation, as well as other treasures on the property.
For more information, visit www.oatlands.org or call 703-777-3174.
Oatlands is a 360-acre self-supporting National Trust Historic Site. The site features a stunning landscape with magnificent gardens, 1804 mansion and 19th century brick dependencies, including the Oatlands greenhouse, the second oldest greenhouse in the nation. Details are online at www.oatlands.org.