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Virginia Is for Old House Lovers

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old House Musings, Old House History

As someone who has always loved old homes, I am happy to have spent a large portion of my life in Virginia. Virginia has a great sense of her history and what an important part old homes play in that history. I know developers hate having to deal with the costs involved in saving old homes when they purchase large pieces of property, I am always seeing articles in the local newspapers about efforts being made to save homes from “progress”.

I know many states have beautiful old homes in the countryside and in the historic centers of the old towns. And as the leaves begin to change, I love driving around Virginia and enjoying the architecture as much as I do the landscape’s changing colors.

I live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley now, with the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east of my home, and as the Fall Festivals begin, I will visit the old homes of Charlottesville and Albermarle County on the other side of the Blue Ridge. I will take a motorcycle ride up by the beautiful homes of Warrenton and Fauquier County, where I once lived, and then out to Waterford and Taylorstown in Loudoun County where I grew up (and where my parents still live). All the quiet country roads will have architecture from the 1700’s and 1800’s, some of the homes in Waterford go back to the 1600’s.

I will stand in these villages and towns and sample the apple cider and apple butter, and see the pumpkins and Indian Corn scattered about. I am always amazed at the character these old homes have, and I try to imagine the families that have lived in these houses since they were first built. Children were born, people laughed, people cried, families gathered for the holidays, children went off to war, each house has a story to tell. My parents’ home was built in the late 1700’s and I often wondered about the previous people who slept in the bedrooms my sister and I used as we grew up. What had become of them? Did they go on to a happy life? Did they ever think about the home they grew up in?

I never think these thoughts when I look at new homes. I know the day will come when they are old and have their own history, but somehow I don’t think it will be the same. I can’t imagine these look-alike homes in huge communities ever having the character that the old homes of today have. And every time I am in the old towns and villages of Virginia or driving down one of Virginia’s country roads, I am so glad that Virginia has a sense of her history and works to preserve it.

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  1. 4 Responses  to “Virginia Is for Old House Lovers”

  2. Conrad
    Aug 29, 2011
    Hi Randall, The places are very peaceful but the small towns I described in the article are all within commuting distance of the DC Metro area so a large percentage of the people who live in the old homes and historic towns are from different areas of the country, but because most of the area is like that everyone fits in and as long as you have a respect for the history of the area and the homes you are accepted. The area I have lived in for the past 20 years is a little different though. Down in the Shenandoah Valley the families go back for generations and being the new family lasts awhile. But, the people are friendly and helpful and within time you are accepted. But I would think any rural area in the country would be much the same.
  3. Randall
    Aug 29, 2011
    Virginia has been around forever, I can't imagine the houses that are there - the places you've mentioned sound peaceful. I would almost feel bad visting for a long period of time or even living there because it would feel like I am disturbing the whole environment. It'd be hard to be the new guy in these historic places.
  4. Conrad
    Aug 29, 2011
    Hi Kate, Waterford is a great place, my sister attended the elementary school there and my mother was a volunteer at the annual Fair for many years. The town and county have done a pretty good job of preserving the town itself, but the surrounding area is slowly being developed. Pretty expensive to purchase in Waterford though, it has become like Old Town Alexandria or Middleburg. Thanks for the reply.
  5. Aug 29, 2011
    A man after my own heart. Being a Northern Virginia resident I know all of the places you mention and especially appreciate the sense of history you feel among these longstanding residences. A good friend lives in Waterford and I'm always tempted to move to such a quaint place every time I visit. I too think of all the people that lived in the homes over the years and enjoy the idea of life having been lived within for a long time.