Waterford is a remarkably intact example of an early 19th-century rural village surrounded by historic farmland. Its significance rests on the almost pristine appearance of the village and landscape. Nestled in the countryside of Loudoun County's northern tip, Waterford developed as a 19th-century Quaker milling community. The village traces its origins to c.1733 when Amos Janney and other Friends arrived from Pennsylvania and established a mill complex here. By the 1830s Waterford was a flourishing community of some 70 houses with a tannery, chairmaker, and boot manufacturer, along with shops and a tavern.
Commerce declined by the early 20th century, leaving Waterford a remarkably preserved hamlet free of modern intrusions. Its quiet shady streets remain lined with examples of regional vernacular styles, both freestanding and attached, in a variety of materials including brick, stone, and log. A mid-19th-century mill stands at the north edge of town. Aggressive preservation efforts by the Waterford Foundation since the 1940s have maintained the town's unique character. Some 60 properties are protected by preservation easements.
Unfortunately, suburban growth still threatens the historic agricultural land surrounding the village. As of 1997, there were no state or local controls to prevent destruction of the historic values of this open space. Efforts are underway to correct this, but they may not occur in time to prevent incompatible development.
The Waterford Historic District is located northwest of Leesburg on Rte. 665, in Waterford. The district is a National Historic Landmark. Walking tour books can be obtained from the Waterford Foundation, open 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday-Friday, located at 40183 Main St., at the intersection of Second St. Contact the Foundation at 540-882-3018 or visit the website. Tour buses must call ahead.
The Waterford Historic District is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.