It was a drizzly day in mid April, the final full day of our DC/Virginia trip, when our friendly Middleburg Country Inn innkeeper, Kevin, handed my clan a walking tour of the Village of Waterford, Virginia. For some reason, the slight chill in the air provided a sort of timeless setting for poking around this surreal town.
The tour started at the Corner Store of the 1733 village, founded by Amos Janney, a Quaker from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and led us down Main Street past the Jail, the Post Office (still functioning), the Bank, the Sugar Shack and ending at the Mill. The dwellings in between ranged from row houses to stone cottages to Victorians to log cabins. As we read from our modern-day print out, we learned of each building’s history. The 19th century structures that used to house a general store, carriage painting business, shoemakers shop, watch making and jewelry store, a school, and a tannery now exist as residential homes. In fact, while passing by the Goodwin-Sappington House (former shoemakers shop) a young man holding a little girl exited the home. Since we were admiring the gardens to the left of the home, he informed us the house now belongs to his mother whom he was visiting. He was heading into Leesburg to get take out, since there are no dining establishments in the village.
Before the Civil War, Waterford had grown to the second largest town in Loudoun County. Today, it remains much the same size as it was then, with only 90 buildings. In 1970, the Secretary of the Interior determined that Waterford possessed such national significance that it was designated a National Historic Landmark. This is the highest designation of historic significance possible in the United States.
It occurred to us that living in a 250+ year-old village with little or no commercial amenities is a rare experience that could be very, very cool… or very, very challenging. We concluded that it really depends on where you are in your life and what you’re looking for. Regardless, the six of us middle agers (hubby Gene, sister Karen and Billy, and bff’s Christine and Mike) decided it was well worth our time to stroll the narrow streets and imagine living life in this quiet, quaint and amazing village.