July 7, 2023

On the Steps

Katherine Marshall didn't allow photos inside

Katherine Marshall viewed their home as a sanctuary for her husband, Gen. George Marshall, especially during World War II. She knew he needed quiet time in the evenings to decompress from the pressure of his job as Army chief of staff; it wouldn’t do for Gen. Marshall to burn out and not be able to give his all to winning the war.

To keep their home a place of privacy, Gen. Marshall did not have a live-in aide-de-camp. The Marshalls did not host many get-togethers in their home, and overnight company was limited to family and a few close friends. Katherine also limited photography with guests to the front steps — no matter how important or close the visitor.

Madame Chiang Kai-Shek visited the Marshalls several times and was comfortable enough to work in the garden with them.

When Madame Chiang  stayed with the Marshalls, they enjoyed playing board games and planting flowers — she helped Gen. Marshall plant tulip bulbs one fall and made jokes about enforced labor. Where was her photo with Katherine taken? On the front steps.

Frank McCarthy was a former member of the General Headquarters during World War II who remained friends with the Marshalls after the war.

Frank McCarthy served in the General Headquarters Secretariat during World War II and traveled extensively with Gen. Marshall. After becoming a movie producer in Hollywood, McCarthy would visit the Marshalls whenever he came home to Virginia to visit family. Where was his photo taken with the Marshalls? On the front steps.

Sitting President Harry Truman and his daughter, Margaret, visit the Marshalls June 8, 1952.

President Harry Truman visited with the Marshalls at their home several times; he liked to drive himself down Leesburg Pike from Washington, D.C. He was a welcome guest and the visits warm and friendly — Margaret remembered them fondly. Where was his photo taken with the Marshalls? On the front steps.

I had my photo taken with Bill Brooks, head docent at the Marshalls’ home, Dodona Manor. I so enjoyed visiting with Bill!

Last week, I got to visit Dodona Manor, the Marshalls’ home in Leesburg, VA. Where did I get my photo taken with excellent docent Bill? On the front steps, of course.

Melissa has been at GCMF since Fall 2019, and previously was an academic librarian specializing in history. She and her husband, John, have three grown children, and live in Rockbridge County with their large rescue dogs. Keep up with her @MelissasLibrary