The Village of Waterford, Virginia
   A National Historic Landmark

photos of Waterford VA Our annual fair is over 50 years old Waterford gardening activities and natural resources What we do on July 4th Waterford's history About our town
about the village
Visiting historic Waterford
How to get to Waterford
History of Waterford and Loudoun County
About the fair including photos
Village and historical maps
articles and news
Information for residents
site index
about the Foundation
about the WCA
1PLs - Personal loan from 1000 to 35000 dollars

Go to the Foundation web site Foundation events About the citizens' association About the citizens' association Join the WCA web pages for members only
General articles
home page

Waterford Land Purchase Is Threat To Historic Status

By Margaret Morton, LeesburgToday, March 12, 003

Preservation Bonds are offered as a way for concerned citizens to help protect endangered Waterford, Virginia.
More information at the Waterford Foundation web site

View of hills to the West
View of the hills to the West

Brown Phillips FarmThe Waterford National Historic Landmark is facing its biggest development threat, according to the Waterford Foundation which has acted as guardian for the historic assets within the village since 1943.

On March 5, Historic Fields LLC went to settlement on a 144-acre parcel on the western flank of the historic village, purchasing the property for $2.208 million—almost $200,000 less than an offer made by the Waterford Foundation in October 2001.

On hearing the news, dismayed Waterford Foundation leaders met immediately and sent a letter of intent to Paul MacMahon, a realtor with Sheridan MacMahon in Middleburg who handled the sale, offering to purchase the property for $2.5 million from the new buyers. That offer was turned down with the intimation that a much higher figure would be required for the buyers’ consideration. Foundation representatives said Wednesday they would be undertaking some serious fundraising, with a minimum goal of $3 million.

MacMahon said Wednesday he could not reveal the names of the owner or principals in Historic Fields LLC and would only describe the purchaser as “an investor.”

The registered agent for the limited liability corporation is David H. Moyes, of Leesburg firm of Moyes and Levay. No principals of the corporation, which was formed on Feb. 25, are listed with the State Corporation Commission, according to an SCC spokesman. David Dobson is registered as manager of the corporation. Moyes could not be reached for comment by press time. Court documents show that a Deed of Trust accompanying the Deed of Sale provides a credit line of up to $2.4 million.

MacMahon said no decision has been made on development plans, MacMahon said, but he acknowledged “We generally try to engineer things to obtain the optimum value.”

“ The property is not for sale ... But if the foundation wants to have a discussion with us, we’re open to discuss,” MacMahon said Wednesday.

The 222-acre property received a subdivision waiver Jan. 6 allowing the Brown family to retain the southern-most portion of the property while selling the remaining 144 acres. Jan. 6 was the day the Loudoun Board of Supervisors adopted its new zoning ordinance that significantly lowered density in western Loudoun. Under the current zoning, the property, which contains about 56 acres in floodplain and steep slopes, could be developed with 14 single-family homes if clustered or seven if not in a cluster. Waterford Foundation Executive Director Eric Breitkreutz said he was unsure whether the steep slopes’ topography had been factored into that number.

This week, the foundation was moving to shore up support for renewed purchase negotiations. Both National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe and Congressman Frank R. Wolf (R-VA 10) have expressed dismay at the possibility of development within the landmark and support for Waterford, according to Waterford Foundation Board Member and Development Committee Chairman Cate Magennis Wyatt. It was Wyatt who was instrumental in working with Wolf’s office to obtain $1 million for the landmark’s preservation just over a year ago.

Wyatt said it was not just a question of the economic value of the property. “It’s what would be lost,” in historic value, she said, adding that the low-lying part of the property along the North Fork of Catoctin Creek was part of the reason why settlers came to the village in the first place. “This swathe of land” along the creek and the mill race is the “center of a thriving agrarian history,” she said. The need to repair the crumbling mill that stands at the northwestern edge of town and other buildings was among the catalysts involved in the creation of the Waterford Foundation, which celebrates its 60th birthday on March 22.

The property is known locally as the Travis Brown Farm, although on official documents it is termed the Phillips Farm. Travis Brown and his wife Ann had owned the farm for about 40 years, and Travis Brown Jr. and his family lived on a portion of the farm. In October 2002, Travis Brown Sr. died, and the property passed to his widow.

The landmark status represents the nation’s highest historic designation. The 1733 village northwest of Leesburg along with 1,400 surrounding acres was recognized in 1970 by the Secretary of the Interior for the unspoiled relationship between the 18th and 19th century Quaker village and the agricultural landscape that surrounds it. In the intervening 30- plus years, the Waterford Foundation, has worked aggressively to protect that relationship and the landmark itself, with some success, particularly on its northern, eastern and southern borders. But, the most scenic and most vulnerable viewscape is west to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and foundation board members and villagers have long expressed concern over possible development encroachment.

The Waterford Foundation has been working with the Brown family since December 2001, when it was approached by Ann Brown, according to Foundation President Claude C. “Cary” Gravatt. The family’s intent was to sell to the Waterford Foundation, according to Gravatt, and “we were asked to deal only with the Brown’s representative, John Ward, in Washington, DC.” Over the ensuing months, discussions continued as to the best way to subdivide the land while preserving it. In April last year, the Waterford Foundation told the Browns it would offer $2.4 million, but that offer never received any response. Contact was lost over the summer and in the fall Travis Brown Sr. died. During the autumn, following rumors the property had been sold to another buyer, the foundation was informed by MacMahon that a ratified, non-contingent contract had been executed, with settlement anticipated for early 2003.



 Top of page





- 06/03/2004 © 2023