Leesburg gardens on display

In 1817, Gen. George Rust bought a 485-acre tract along the Potomac River north of Leesburg and began building a Federal-style home there. The rock outcrops that studded the land inspired the property’s name: Rockland.

Two centuries and five generations later, Rust’s descendants still own and occupy Rockland. But maintaining old homes is costly, and the current occupants are searching for new ways to generate revenue from the property so they can continue to keep it in the family.

Rockland is one of six picturesque Leesburg-area properties that will be open to visitors Sunday and Monday during Virginia’s Historic Garden Week. The Garden Club of Virginia uses proceeds from the event, now in its 84th year, to restore and preserve historic public gardens across the commonwealth.

Read more

The Washington Post, April 23, 2017

Purcellville Library observes 60th anniversary of desegregation

In the early 1950s, Reggie Simms mended damaged books so they could remain in circulation at the Purcellville Library. But he was not allowed to check them out for personal use.

For two decades after it opened in 1937, the library was open only to white patrons. Simms and other African Americans were excluded until the library was desegregated on April 9, 1957.

On Saturday, the library will mark the 60th anniversary of that milestone with “Cross the Line,” a day-long program focusing on the desegregation of public facilities in Loudoun County. Simms will join other African Americans from that era in sharing memories of the cultural shifts in Loudoun as segregation died a slow death in the 1950s and ’60s.

Full story

The Washington Post, April 2, 2017

Ceremony honors pilot who died in 1945 crash

Richard Ochoa, the last surviving brother of Capt. Fred Ochoa, is presented with an American flag honoring his brother.

On July 27, 1945, Marine Capt. Fred Ochoa, 26, set out from Patuxent River Naval Air Station on what was a test flight for a new twin-engine aircraft. He never returned. The weather was treacherous, and the plane crashed in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Bluemont. Among the items found with Ochoa’s body were a parachute and a rosary.

The prayer beads were a key link in a chain of events that culminated in a memorial ceremony and celebration of Ochoa’s life March 18, when 20 members of the Ochoa family gathered with a group of neighbors who live near the crash site. The reunion helped provide answers to questions that members of both groups had for decades.

Read more

The Washington Post, March 26, 2017

Records document a century of segregation

Carolyn Nicholson and her grandson, Adonis Taylor, 10, of Ashburn, look at some of the records displayed at the open house.

An open house at the Loudoun County Courthouse on Feb. 11 highlighted the century of segregation in Virginia that followed the Civil War and the abolishing of slavery.

The Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office displayed records that document the separate and unequal treatment of African Americans in the county during that time. Documents reveal how segregation pervaded all areas of life, including the education, public services and land transactions.

Read more

The Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2017

1986 peace walkers reunite for Women’s March

From left: Thom Unger, KD Kidder, Karen Doherty and Don Cunning

In 1986, about 500 people marched across the United States for almost nine months, from Los Angeles to New York to Washington, in a demonstration against nuclear weapons. The trek became known as the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament.

Last week, a dozen of those peace marchers reunited and laced up their walking shoes once again to take part in the Women’s March on Washington. For KD Kidder, 65, of Leesburg, it was an opportunity to rekindle old friendships and express her concerns about the political direction she thinks the country is taking.

Full story

The Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2017

WW II Army doctor’s daughter publishes his letters

Author Laura Cantor Zelman autographs a copy of her book at Ashby Ponds.

Milton Cantor hoped to write a book someday based on the letters he sent home to his wife while he was serving as a U.S. Army doctor during World War II. The correspondence describes his wartime experiences in Britain, France, Germany and Czechoslovakia, as well as at several Army bases in the United States.

He never did get around to writing that book. After the war, he devoted himself to his medical practice and his family, which grew to include four daughters. He continued to practice medicine until his death at age 74.

This year, Cantor’s oldest daughter, Laura Cantor Zelman, fulfilled her father’s dream by writing and publishing “In My Father’s Words: The World War II Letters of an Army Doctor,” which draws from more than 500 letters he wrote to his wife, Rose, between 1941 and 1945.

Full story

The Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2016

Banquet facility in horse country draws fire

A plan for a banquet and events facility in the middle of horse country sparked an outcry from residents of western Loudoun County who attended a public hearing in Leesburg this month to voice their objections.

Nearly 30 people spoke against the proposed business at Catesby Farm, about five miles west of Middleburg, arguing that the noise and traffic it would generate would disturb neighboring farms and overwhelm the narrow roads in the area. Some said that the traffic would also disrupt nearby Willisville, a small village settled by freed slaves after the Civil War.

Read more…

Washington Post, Oct. 23, 2016

200 years of criminal records indexed

Although Rachel Steer, John Lambag and Arthur White lived in three different centuries, they have at least one thing in common: At some point in their lives, each ran afoul of the law in Loudoun County.

Records of their offenses have been kept and catalogued by the historic records division of the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, which recently completed an index documenting more than 10,000 criminal cases from 1757 to 1955 — a project that took about eight years. Office staff members showcased some of the most interesting criminal records Oct. 7 at an open house in the historic courthouse in Leesburg.

Read more…

Washington Post, Oct. 16, 2016

New folk school opens in Waterford

A new school opening in Waterford asks people to step away from their screens for three days and focus on learning traditional crafts and skills.

The Waterford Heritage Crafts School will offer its first classes Friday through next Sunday, giving students a chance to receive a hands-on introduction to archaeology or to learn how to restore antique windows, make quilts or mix and apply lime mortar.

More…

Washington Post, Aug. 14, 2016

 

Museum gets one more chance

The Loudoun Museum has been given one last chance to get its financial house in order.

The Board of Supervisors on July 21 approved an agreement with the museum that will provide $156,000 in funding to keep it operating through June, by a 7-1-1 vote. Ron A. Meyer (R-Broad Run) opposed the plan, and Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge) was absent.

The agreement spells out quarterly milestones the museum must meet to receive the funds, and requires each member of the museum’s board of trustees to contribute or raise at least $3,000 annually.

Read more…

Washington Post, July 31, 2016