Robert Edward Lee (1807–70) commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War and then became the president of Washington College, which later became Washington and Lee University. Lee was born at Stratford Hall plantation house, built by Thomas Lee in the late 1730s. The 1900 acres of farmlands and forests of Stratford Hall was the home to four generations of Lees, including Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, the only brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence.The Stratford Hall plantation overlooks the Potomac River. The Great House contains some of the most architecturally significant rooms of the Colonial era. The site includes nature trails, a gristmill and formal gardens. The present main approach to the Great House is from the south. Looking beyond the oval, one can see a row of poplars, recalling the entrance drive described by General Lee. The south lawn terminates in a ha-ha wall, an eighteenth-century device which permits an uninterrupted view of the plantation while preventing the encroachment of livestock.
It is from the beautiful Stratford Hall grounds that American Heritage Trees worked with staff members to collect seeds from Southern Magnolia, Beech, Shellbark Hickory, White Oak, and Chestnut Oak trees.