PORTRAITS: Brookland’s Property Brothers

Brookland had a number of different development partners in its formative years: Benjamin Leighton and Richard Pairo, William Barnes and John Weaver, Joseph Batchelder and Archibald McLachlen among others, but perhaps the most interesting are James Lewis Sherwood (below left) and his younger brother Jesse Randolph Sherwood, Jr. (below right), who together had an enormous impact on Brookland’s development.


James and Jesse Sherwood. Photo courtesy Emily Morrison.

The story of the Sherwoods and Brookland actually begins with James and Jesse’s father, Jesse Randolph Sherwood, Sr. (below, courtesy Washington Historical Society)  

He was a market gardener in Alexandria, Virginia, looking to expand and chose the area that would soon become Brookland. “My father bought 25 acres out here in the '80s,” said James Sherwood in a 1950 interview with the Washington Post. “He paid $125 an acre and rented 25 more for truck gardening. He had an option to buy the second tract at the same price. But he did not take up his option because the earth was a heavy clay and it was too difficult to grow vegetables on it.”

Jesse Sherwood had purchased those 25 acres from the McCeney family, who owned a good bit of land in the area. The main McCeney farm, just north of the Sherwood tract, would later be sold to the Franciscans, who built their monastery there. 

© Robert Malesky 2017