Preservation Success

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, In The News, Old House History
Preservation Success in Waterford, VA

Preservation Success in Waterford, VA

I wrote recently about a trip I took to Loudoun County, Virginia, and how the economy seemed to be affecting the old houses and developers in the area. It has occurred to me that if there is one place I am familiar with that has been a preservation success, it has to be Waterford, Virginia, in Loudoun County. I’m sure there are many other preservation successes in every state–I wrote about California’s Bungalow Heaven–but Waterford is a village where I have personally watched preservation succeed over the years.

Preservation and People

Waterford, Virginia, was founded in 1733, and most of the homes in the village were built during the 1700s and 1800s. I first became acquainted with Waterford in 1967 when my school bus passed through it twice a day. Even in those days I was interested in history and old houses, and I recall how it seemed like I was going back in time when passing through the village. Today, over forty years later, it seems much the same, and that is due to the residents of the village believing in and practicing preservation.

Old houses in the village have been sold many times over, probably many just since 1967, but the people who move to the village know its history, love old houses, and want to be a part of what Waterford is. The village attained National Landmark status, and organizations such as the Waterford Foundation help keep preservation a priority in and around Waterford. When they felt threatened by encroaching development in 2002, the residents were able to raise $5.3 million and get an additional $1 million federal grant to purchase a farm land buffer around the village, as mentioned in a 2002 article from the Washington Business Journal.

Waterford has all types of residents: artists, craftspeople, professionals, and federal employees who commute fifty miles into DC every day; but they all have in common their love of old houses, their belief in preservation, and their enjoyment of the Waterford way of life.

Preservation Success on a Smaller Scale

Preservation success isn’t always on a large scale like Waterford; sometimes it’s just as important in small doses. I happened upon a preservation success story in a Long Island, New York, online newspaper concerning a Cape Cod home sitting on Long Island Sound. The old house was built in 1960 by a carpenter and his wife with the intention of raising their family there. During the late 1970s the local government took the home by eminent domain and turned it into a nature museum.

In 2008 the nature center in the old Cape Cod was shut down due to a mold problem, and there was talk of tearing down the old house and building a new nature center. It just so happens that the carpenter had a son who became a carpenter, and that son moved back to the Long Island area from the family’s home in Missouri. He asked the town to save the old house that his father had built, and allow him to start the restoration work the nature center needs. With some help the house can be completely restored. The happy ending is that it appears the town is going to go along with his proposal.