The Village of Waterford, Virginia
A National Historic Landmark

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Waterford Doesn't Change—Visit the Waterford Fair in 1970

It is interesting to see how the village and Waterford Homes Tour and Crafts Exhibit hasn't changed over time. This article from a 1970 issue of Early American Life magazine shows Waterford looking the same as now, only the visitors' clothes have changed.

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A Beautiful Visit to the Past Just an Hour from Washington

A 1970 Article from Early American Life

1970 photo of the Waterford Homes Tour and Crafts Exhibit

How long has it been since you stepped back into the pages of history? Our family did just that in attending the Homes Tour and Crafts Exhibit in Waterford, Virginia. This three-day annual event is held on the first full weekend in October.

1970 photo of the Waterford VA Old Mill

Fairgoers at the Old Mill in 1970

The crisp air, sunshine, and falling leaves set the mood as we started down the winding streets of this eighteenth century mill town. Our stops were many, as we studied the activities of the Early American craftsmen. You will have no trouble finding them; they are everywhere-in the Old School, the Red Barn, the Weaver's Cottage, the Old Mill, in shops of their own, and on the Village Green. Gourmet interest led us to the Corner Store where a large variety of baked goods, jams, jellies, country hams, and candies were available. If you do as we did, you'll visit here several times each day.

Antique collectors will be delighted with the wares of the craftsmen and the quaint shops through which to browse. The gratitude which all who visit the town will want to bestow is due the Waterford Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering early crafts and to restoring the eighteenth century mill town as nearly as possible to its original state. The Foundation's research has been comprehensive and well documented. Each ticket holder is furnished a free booklet describing the history of the houses on the current year's tour. Next year's tour may not necessarily feature the same homes, as an effort is made to provide variety, which encourages the visitors' return. The graciousness of the "owner-hostesses" is admirable as they welcome thousands through their front door (and across their Early American rugs).

1970 photo gunsmiths William Hunley and J.R. Buck

The first arts and crafts exhibit was held in 1944 to learn the extent of interest in local handwork. Seventy craftsmen exhibited their wares, and about 600 visitors came to this first event. The second year there were 100 exhibitors and 1,300 guests. The Foundation estimates that over 20,000 visitors attended in 1970 to view the efforts of the craftsmen. The first settlers of the town were Quakers. In 1733, a Friend from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, moved to the County of Prince William (now Loudoun) and built a house near the bank of Kittocktin Creek. His name was Amos Janney, a man of some consequence who had once acted as surveyor for Lord Fairfax.

About 1740 he built a mill just across the stream from the present mill. Next he built a house for the miller, a smithy and a loghouse near the creek. These few buildings formed a village called Milltown. This name, however, did not suit an enterprising young shoemaker, Thomas Moore, from Waterford, Ireland. He wanted the town named for the place of his birth, and in time he so persuaded the townspeople.

This was the beginning of the town of Waterford, standing today much as it stood at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

This year, Waterford received the highest recognition the Federal Government can bestow upon a privately owned historic site when Secretary of the Interior, Walter J. Hickel, designated the Waterford Historic District a National Historic Landmark.

The major highways and railroads, which brought prosperity and then change to so much of America, have bypassed Waterford. As a result, Waterford is one of very few communities that still possesses not only the architecture of another era but also the setting. Next October will find many people returning, and many new faces. Our family will be among them.

1970 photos of crafters at the Waterford Fair in Virginia

 

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