In Loudoun, families flock to walkability and amenities of Great Falls Chase

Great Falls Chase is a place that might appeal to Goldilocks — not too big and not too small.

A compact community in the eastern corner of Loudoun County, Great Falls Chase is large enough to support such amenities as a swimming pool, tennis courts and a shopping center, but small enough that everything is within easy walking distance and neighbors recognize one another.

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The Washington Post, Feb. 19, 2020

At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, conjuring a memorable family vacation

“The first minutes of 2020 were unlike any other New Year’s celebration I had experienced — standing in the chilly Florida night beside my family and watching a spectacular fireworks display over the lake at Universal Orlando Resort, my right hand clutching a 17½-inch magic wand.

The magic started a year ago, after my son Will remarked that his favorite New Year’s had been a decade earlier, at Disney World with his high school marching band. When my wife, Juli, said she had long wanted to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Will suggested that the entire family gather the following New Year’s.”

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The Washington Post, February 7, 2020

In the swim, on the field and at the lake in Loudoun’s Ashburn Village

“Sports and recreation are the heartbeat of Ashburn Village, a 5,500-unit planned community in eastern Loudoun County, Va., about 30 miles from Washington.

With 16 miles of trails, three community centers with outdoor pools, eight playgrounds and a multitude of courts and fields for tennis, basketball, baseball and soccer, Ashburn Village is built for outdoor activity.”

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The Washington Post, Jan. 30, 2020

Near Leesburg’s downtown, an older neighborhood with a live-and-let-live spirit

Virginia Davies knew she and her husband, George, would have to compromise when they were house-hunting in 2014. She liked country living, and George preferred the city.

They settled on a house in Leesburg Country Club, a residential community with tall trees, wide streets and cul de sacs on the south side of Leesburg, Va.

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The Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2019

In Lake Ridge, Va., a planned community comes into its leafy glory

When developer Ken Thompson conceived the Lake Ridge community in the 1960s, he envisioned a place where suburban homes would coexist with nature, where active individuals and families would enjoy spending time outdoors.

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The Washington Post, November 14, 2019

Blackburn Inn gives new life to a site with a dark past

A weekend stay last month at the Blackburn Inn in Staunton, Va., gave my wife Juli and me an appreciation for a freedom we usually take for granted — the ability to come and go as we please.

After checking in, we were free to leave the premises to stroll around Staunton’s bustling downtown and enjoy an hour of virtuoso performances at a Bach festival. Later, after dinner in the hotel’s bistro, we returned downtown to enjoy some local brews.

This freedom to leave the grounds was something that thousands of people who had once inhabited the historic hotel and neighboring buildings did not enjoy.

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Washington’s boyhood homes share little common ground

Replica House at the Ferry Farm

Many Americans are aware that George Washington lived at Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, Va., a historic site where they can walk in the footsteps of our nation’s foremost founding father, Revolutionary War hero and first president.

What’s less well-known is that Washington grew up 40 miles south of there, at what is now called Ferry Farm, near Fredericksburg, and the site — the setting for such mythical events as chopping down his father’s cherry tree and throwing a coin across a river — can be visited as well. Both locations provide a fascinating window into Washington’s life. And this year, both have something new to offer visitors.

Mount Vernon

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The Washington Post, June 21, 2018

A moving, respectful tour of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

“‘If only these walls could talk!’

The thought occurs to me as I’m led down the long, gloomy corridors of the building known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, which housed thousands of patients over its 130-year history as a hospital for people with mental illnesses and disabilities.”

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The Washington Post, May 26, 2018

Residents oppose development of golf course

Leesburg residents who live near Westpark Golf Course are pushing back against a developer’s plans to acquire the property and build homes on it.

Town officials announced late last year that the course is under contract to CalAtlantic, a land- development company that plans to build 27 homes there and donate most of the remaining property to the town. Since the sale’s announcement, scores of residents have shown up at town council meetings and other community gatherings to object to the plan.

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The Washington Post, Jan. 5, 2018

Leesburg considers acquiring golf course

The Leesburg Town Council is considering acquiring the Westpark Golf Course, which has been a mainstay of the rapidly growing town for almost a half-century.

A standing-room-only crowd packed the council chambers as residents who live near the golf course implored the council to acquire it and keep it as open space. More than 100 people filled the room after learning that the property is for sale, and that it is zoned for commercial and residential development.

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The Washington Post, Nov. 4, 2017