NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK
1,420 acres including the village and its surrounding open space were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970. It is the highest designation of historic significance possible in our country and places Waterford on par with Mount Vernon and Monticello—a rare honor. Landmark designation was based on what the U.S. Secretary of the Interior perceived as an extraordinary balance between the buildings of an intact 18th – 19th century rural mill town and the unspoiled agricultural setting that surrounds it. The farmland surrounding the village, sited along the South Fork of the Catoctin Creek, gave rise to mills. As the mills thrived, the village evolved around them, and supporting commercial enterprises emerged. Waterford is also rare in that it is still a living community.
In 2018, the National Park Service began a project with the University of Delaware Center for Historic Architecture and Design to update Waterford’s National Historic Landmark documentation, including a comprehensive inventory of historically significant properties within the Landmark and oral histories of those who participated in Waterford’s preservation movement. The recommended updates to the designation are expected to be completed and presented to the Department of the Interior for acceptance in late 2021.
Loudoun County Historic and Cultural Conservation District
Waterford is well protected thanks in large part to being a Loudoun County Historic and Cultural Conservation District. The Waterford Historic and Cultural Conservation District is comprised of parcels that cover most of the village, but it does not coincide with the 1420 acre National Historic Landmark District.
The County districts are zoning “overlay” districts. This means that in addition to land use regulations that apply in a particular area, landowners must comply with architectural guidelines that protect the historic character of the district. New construction in the district, including any alterations to or demolition of an existing structure, must be approved by the Loudoun County’s Historic District Review Committee.
To find out if your property is in the Waterford Historic and Cultural Conservation District and learn more about the guidelines and processes for project approval, visit the County’s Historic District website here.