Families in Waterford, Virginia, live modern lives in old houses. Many Waterford residents live with hand-dug wells, low ceilings, and no air-conditioning. Homes and buildings that originally were businesses have been lovingly restored and renovated for twenty-first-century living.
Each day during the Waterford Fair, some villagers graciously open their homes to fairgoers. Docents welcome you and speak about the
history, architecture and furnishings of these dwellings. Village houses date from the late eighteenth century through the federal and Victorian periods and into the twentieth century.
Docents will introduce you to the cast of colorful characters who once inhabited these fascinating houses. They were Quakers and staunch abolitionists, slave-owners, merchants, artisans, freed slaves, warriors, and idealists. Three centuries of life in a unique American village will tell the back-story to your visit to the Waterford Fair.
This federal house was built in 1819 for his mother, Lydia, by Samuel Hough, who paid $240 for the land in 1817. Samuel was the great-great-grandson of Richard Hough, a Quaker who fled religious persecution in England. Also in 1817, Samuel married a non-Quaker, and in 1818, he became a justice of the peace. For these actions Samuel was disowned by Waterford’s Fairfax Meeting. Lydia paid Samuel $3,500 for the house—an enormous sum at that time. It may have been her way of helping Samuel finance his many entrepreneurial activities.
The house was probably built by the same person who built the William Hite Hough House three doors up the street. William was Samuel’s first cousin. The houses were constructed at about the same time, and both have the same three-bay two-room first floor plan. The interior woodwork decoration in both houses was likely carved by the same hands, but in Samuel’s house “it is quite remarkable—much more elaborate than one would expect in an otherwise simple village house.”
This is one of the more elegantly embellished buildings in Waterford. The original kitchen, which was separated from the main house, was in what is now the basement level. A cold cellar built of stone in the shape of a beehive is now a sub-basement.
The brick façade is laid in Flemish bond. Façade openings are topped with wooden keystone lintels cleverly carved to look like stone. The corner carving under the eaves is unusual and striking. The front door has six panels (a “cross and bible” pattern).
This house is one of the very few that has an interior as well as an exterior preservation easement, protecting the house in perpetuity from inappropriate change.
The Samuel Hough House is open through the courtesy of its current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Neil Hughes. The Dormers
The Dormers was the second house erected on this property. The first was a log house located close to the road almost at the corner. Mahlon Janney built it in 1803 along with the saw and grist mill he operated behind it. After his death, the mill operations were carried on by his nephew, Mahlon Janney, Jr.
Since both Mahlon Janneys had married women named Sarah, the younger Mrs. Janney was known as Sarah Janney, Jr. It was this woman who, in 1816, bought the land where The Dormers now stands. The house was built soon after. The house and mill passed to John Schooley (1794-1868) in the 1830s. John had been disowned by the Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1831 for marrying a cousin. The marriage, incidentally, was performed informally at John’s house when a minister happened by. The latter was rewarded with an apple as his fee. John’s son Milton, who had remained in the Quaker fold, continued the mill operation until his own death in 1908.
Initially quite spacious, this house was expanded in the 1940s when the north wing was added along with the sunroom on the south side. A second floor was added to the north wing in the 1960s by the present owner.
An extensive third addition affords the convenience of modern living combined with the warmth of a fine old house. The owner and her architect worked with the easement holder, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which protects the house in perpetuity from inappropriate change, to develop a design which would meet its rigorous requirements and which was then approved by the Loudoun County Historic District Review Committee.
The Dormers is open to the public through the courtesy of Mrs. Mark N. Beach. Ephraim Schooley House
The oldest part of this house is the south end, which John Morrow, a weaver, built between 1821 and 1825, shortly before his death. Quaker Ephraim Schooley (1786-1867) acquired the property in the 1830s.
Renowned saddler Asa Brown (1794-1872) lived here in the 1850s and 60s. The Civil War split his large family down the middle. “Plucky” Asa, a veteran of the War of 1812, was a loyal Unionist, as was his son Turner and two daughters. Sons Charlie and “Ab” were “rabid secesh” as was wife Aurena and a third daughter. Turner and Charlie had to be kept from killing each other, but all managed to survive the war, though Charlie took a Yankee bullet at the First Battle of Bull Run.
William F. Myers built the northern end of the house, and both halves (two separate dwellings) were sold to H.C. Bennett in 1876. From 1919 to 1959 the property belonged to the H.B. Parker family, another feisty bunch. Harvey, a blacksmith, came home from WWI, feuded with his brother Fred, who had run the smithy in his absence, and the two never spoke again. Mr. and Mrs. John G. Lewis purchased the property in 1959 and restored and finally united the two residences as one called the
Mr. and Mrs. William Chewning added a west wing in the 1970s, granting an easement to the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission.
Mr. and Mrs. John J. Donovan built a second western addition in 1989.
They also purchased three and one-half acres of pasture at the rear of the property in 1991 and granted a protective easement to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The present owners, Schuyler Richardson and Tom Edmonds, commissioned T.H. McGinn to design and build a new garage in 1997.
The Ephraim Schooley House is open to through the courtesy of its current owners, the Edmonds family.
William O. Russell House
The land on which this house was built was part of Quaker Amos Janney’s purchase of 400 acres in the 1730s. By 1816 the land had been subdivided into portions along Fairfax and High Streets. This lot was one of the few that had a home built on it, probably shortly after blacksmith Reuben Schooley purchased it in 1817.
The most dramatic time in the property’s history was the morning of August 27, 1862, while the home was owned by Mrs. Lydia Virts. The Independent Loudoun Virginia Rangers, a locally raised Union cavalry unit, were billeted in the Baptist church across High Street. A Confederate force moved through the cornfield behind the Virts house and ordered the family of seven on the floor. A fierce fight ensued. The Confederates summoned Mrs. Virts to carry a flag of truce to the Rangers, and the third time the Rangers surrendered, having suffered a number of casualties. Mrs. Virts remained in the home until it was sold at auction in February 1917.
Neighbor Edith Walker paid $675 for the property. Two months later, William Orrison Russell purchased the house. The circa 1817 house was dilapidated, and was taken down. By 1918, at the cost of $1200, Eb Divine had built for Russell the brick American foursquare house you see today. Divine’s signature wraparound porch is seen on several other Waterford homes. A two-story porch at the rear was later enclosed with fish-scale shingles, also seen on the dormers and similar to those on other homes in the village. The property is one of few in town retaining its original outbuildings: barn, ice house, root cellar, and well house.
The William O. Russell House is open through the courtesy of the present owners, Bob and Stephanie Thompson.
Joseph Talbott, Jr., was born in Waterford in 1774 to a Maryland Quaker family, but was dismissed from the Fairfax Friends Meeting in 1796—“for joining in light company, frolicking and dancing.” By 1801, he further blotted his record by marrying a non-Quaker and owning or employing a slave.
He received an ordinary license in 1808 for the premises and converted the existing structures located at 40162 and 40170 Main Street to form a tavern/hotel. He paid $155 for the 9,600 square feet where he built this tavern/hotel; in 1813, he sold the successful business to fellow Presbyterian Nathaniel Manning for $5,600 and set up a new hotel in Frederick, Maryland.
The existing 18
th century structure at 40162 Main Street was a small two-story stone building with a contiguous one-story stone addition. The roofs were sheared off level and Talbott built additional floors above to tie 40162 and 40170 together to form the tavern. The new Talbott construction is post and beam with brick-nogging in the exterior walls beneath modern wood siding. The Verizon building across the street is of similar construction. A covered second-story porch spanned the front of these three buildings providing entrance to the tavern, with shops below. Note the second-floor doorway that still remains.
Edward and Leroy Chamberlin, brothers from early Waterford families, began their extensive village restoration efforts with this structure, the Talbott House, and the Arch House (40176 Main Street). The stone walls, terrace and drainage in the rear were substantially reworked during this period. The Chamberlins were instrumental in restoring many other buildings here, at the forefront of a growing interest in preserving the village.
Loudoun County’s earliest bank was formed here in 1815. Several slave auctions were held here about 1820.The hotel/tavern went through a series of owners and businesses over the years, including a shoemaker’s shop, butcher shop in the 1880s and operated as a hotel until the 1920s—until becoming residential in the 20
th century. The Talbott’s Tavern is open through the courtesy of the present owners. Livery Stable
The Livery Stable served the transportation needs of Waterford from at least 1851 to the mid-twentieth century, when it was converted first to an antique shop and, in the 1990s, to a residence. The 1851 deed mentions the property in conjunction with a hotel/store in the center of the village (the Pink House) suggesting it may have served customers of that enterprise.
In the early 1890s, it was the site of T.C. Baker’s “new and nobby livery stable,” featuring “fine carriages, neat buggies, spacious wagons [and] graceful carts,” not to mention “excellent horses.” Those horses could be a problem; the town ordinances prohibited the keeper of livery stables from accumulating more than one cart load of manure at one time from June through November.
At the turn of the century, a multi-structure fire near the Livery Stable made a hero of Albert Shawen, who “stayed on top of one of the barns until the hair on his head was burned completely off, and his face and arms scorched.”
The Livery Stable’s most harrowing event occurred on July 23, 1900, when a number of people gathered in the shop to wait out an evening thunderstorm. A visiting Spanish-American War veteran, Warren O’Hara, exchanged words with local farmboy Ernest Mullen, about a young Nettie Rinker. The argument escalated, resulting in Mullen’s killing O’Hara with a club. A local posse tracked down the shaken killer almost immediately. He was convicted of murder but served a short sentence.
In the early 20
th century, Ed Beans owned the livery operations; he rented buggies, carriages, and horses to everyone from traveling salesmen to villagers needing transportation to a church picnic. One of his horses, “Old John,” was a fine navigator. He was known to deliver his passengers to a favorite bar in Maryland, then when the imbibers were no longer able to “drive,” deliver them home safely, often sound asleep. The Livery Stable is open through the courtesy of Mr. Peter Thomas. Smallwood-Graham House
Carpenter Leven Smallwood (c. 1765-1812) built the three-bay section of this house at the right shortly after he bought the lot in 1810. It was originally a one-and-a-half story brick structure on a stone foundation, with two rooms in the basement, two on the street level, and a sleeping loft above. A one-story brick addition was later added to the left. Quakers Isaac Walker (1781-1851) and Jacob Mendenhall (1788-1822) operated a dry goods store here as early as 1816, and Walker purchased the property at auction in 1833. Robert Graham, a partially disabled veteran of the Loudoun Rangers, bought the building in 1879 for $325. He removed the half story of brick from the right side and added a full second story clad in German siding.
Graham had been shot by Confederates when he tried to escape en route to prison in Richmond, crippling his right arm, He eventually received a monthly disability pension of $11.25, and, despite his handicap, earned a postwar living as a skilled carriage painter The Waterford Foundation purchased this house in 1952 to protect it from deterioration and with the hope of selling it to a preservation-minded buyer. Architectural historian John G. Lewis and his wife bought it five years later. They installed modern conveniences while carefully restoring original features. For many years until recently, Douglas Lea and wife Julie owned the property. Ms. Lea, a master gardener as well as an accomplished artist, designed the grounds. The present owners have added a standing-seam roof, rebuilt the chimneys and drilled a new well, superseding the old hand-dug well that had served for many, many years.
The house has also been known as
The Peaceable Kingdom, the name Julie Lea chose for her artist’s shop in the building, and the Graham House. The Smallwood-Graham House is open through the courtesy of Bill and Sue McGuire. Trouble Enough Indeed (12-3)
Trouble Enough Indeed was brought to Waterford and reconstructed from 1970 to 1980 by William and Carol Hunley.
Visitors to the Waterford Fair in the early 1970s enjoyed watching Trouble Enough Indeed take shape from the components of two log homes ca. 1850 and 1886 from Lewisdale in Montgomery County, Maryland, and an 1876 frame house from Mathews County, Virginia. Located about three miles apart at Lewisdale, the log houses were tobacco farm houses. The name comes from the registration of the front wing of the house in the Montgomery County deed book.
The house has been featured in
Parade Magazine, in the Washington Post and on NPTV. It has been a frequent subject for painters and passing photographers.
The log houses were dismantled and every log, stick, stone and brick moved to Waterford, cleaned and returned to its original place in the house. Even the nails were reused. The log construction is German “V” notch and logs were stacked one on the other with no fastenings except in the top ring of logs on which the roof rests. In addition to the log houses and the frame house, artifacts from many well-known buildings are built into the fabric.
The dining room fireplace contains the brick from the log house, and on one side there is a brick from the old church at Jamestown. One the other side, there is a brick from Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg. The handmade bricks each show the print of the brick maker’s thumb from being turned when drying, and several contain cat and deer tracks made while the bricks were still soft. The long-leaf pine heart flooring and the dining room ceiling beams were salvaged from the Carlyle Apartments that were built in 1819. Many of the doors, windows and replacement timbers were salvaged from the house built in 1876 by William S. Hunley, shipwright, farmer and oysterman, at Retz in the Kingston Parish Glebe in Mathews County, Virginia. Several of the doors were made in the family shipyard and are fastened with boat nails.
Trouble Enough Indeed is open through the courtesy of Mr. William H. Hunley Old WaOD
This is one of several village buildings that look older than they actually are. In the 1970s, the late owner George Bentley constructed it using discarded railroad ties from the defunct Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, hence the playful name. “The Old W&OD trail,” part of the Northern Virginia Park Authority, now links Purcellville’s old train station via bicycle/walking trail through Fairfax County to Alexandria.
Mr. and Mrs. Bentley came to Waterford in the 1940s and raised a family, soon becoming active and loyal members of the non-profit Waterford Foundation. They were tireless workers each year at the annual Homes Tour and Craft Exhibit. Ruth Bentley wrote a weekly column about Waterford for the
Loudoun Times-Mirror through the 1960s. Both worked on houses they purchased in the village, all the while commuting to Washington D.C. to work.
The log structure originally served as storage space for the Bentley’s home on the hill behind the house (“The Hough House” at 40205 Main Street), but was made into a home recently. The land on which it is built had belonged to the extensive Hough family who dominated village history—off and on—from this lot from 1801 until the 1940s.
Apparently George Bentley was quite a mason. He built an impressive 10-foot-tall stone wall from the back of the house to the edge of the property to create a flat space for the house.
The present owners found the garden and outbuildings “in pretty good shape,” changing only the patio area. They also upgraded the plumbing—replacing a bathroom—and did some interior painting.
Old WaOD is open through the courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Schmitt. Janney-Coates House
This four-story brick town house occupies the end of the colloquially-named “Arch House Row.” It was erected in the first quarter of the 19th century on land formerly owned by Joseph Janney, member of a locally prominent Quaker family.
Many of the homes on Arch Row were used for commercial purposes, and this one was a shoe shop at one time. By 1850 it was in use as the Evergreen Lodge #51 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, then it returned to being a residence.
For much of the 20th century it was the property of the African-American Coates family.
The building underwent extensive stabilization and restoration in the 1990s; owner Richard Storch and builder Rodney Diaz were able to contain all modern electrical, heating and plumbing elements in the reconstructed wooden portion at the back, leaving the front original portion looking appropriately 19th century. The interior preserves much original simple trim.
The Janney-Coates House is open through the courtesy of current owner Morgan Hough.