The Waterford Foundation
Preserving the National Historic Landmark of Waterford, Virginia
About the Foundation
Founded in 1943, the Waterford Foundation is one of America’s first community-based historic preservation organizations. Our mission is to preserve the historic buildings and open spaces of the National Historic Landmark of Waterford, Virginia, and, through education, to increase the public’s knowledge of life and work in an early American rural community. We invite you to join us in fulfilling this mission as a Waterford Foundation member, donor, and/or volunteer.
This video tells the story of the Waterford Foundation and National Historic Landmark. We welcome you to visit Waterford.
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.
Historic Buildings Preservation
The Foundation’s efforts to preserve the National Historic Landmark include preservation of the historic buildings it owns in the village as well as providing preservation support to individual owners of historic properties that also are contributing structures to the village. In addition to the village’s national designation, the Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes this same 1,420-acre area in and around the village as a state historic district.
The village also is within Loudoun County’s Waterford Historic and Cultural Conservation District, a designation placing it under the County’s historic guidelines. These guidelines protect the historic nature of the district and provide guidance to property owners contemplating changes to their properties; the county grants approval for changes.
Many Waterford properties also have easements placed upon them to protect their historic integrity. Easements now in place cover land parcels, building exteriors, and even some interiors. Among easement holders of Waterford properties are the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Land Trust of Virginia, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
The preserved setting of Waterford
The Foundation strives to preserve the rural landscape within and adjacent to the Waterford National Historic Landmark, as well as the historic character of Waterford’s architecture. This mission has become increasingly important as growth and development of Loudoun County has exploded. In recent years, the Foundation has acquired and placed under permanent easement a number of farms within the Landmark District. In turn, these properties have been divided into large conservation lots and sold to buyers who value the preservation of these historic farms. The properties have subsequently been “redeveloped” by their new owners as horse farms, wineries, or carefully managed open space designed to preserve the historic vistas surrounding the village of Waterford.
Preserve America Community
In 2011, Waterford was designated a Preserve America Community by the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The designation letter signed by First Lady Michele Obama was sent on January 21, 2011 to Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York, who sponsored Waterford’s application. “Congratulations on your designation as a Preserve America Community, and thank you for all that you do to enhance our Nation’s heritage. Your community holds a treasured place in the American story, and it is through your vision and dedication that our history will be upheld and our future will be renewed,” stated Mrs. Obama.