About Waterford Virginia

Why Waterford became a National Historic Landmark

Known as Janney's Mill until the 1780s, the early commercial center then became the village of Waterford. See below on how Wateford got its name.

Waterford's stagnation as a commercial center after the Civil War meant it was not worth demolishing the old to make way for new development. The old town and its surrounding farms were able to slumber undisturbed, like Rip Van Winkle, for many years, By 1937, when the Historic American Buildings Survey was completed in Waterford, most buildings in the village were falling into disrepair – or falling apart.

That same decade, members of old Waterford families, beginning with brothers Edward and Leroy Chamberlin, began buying and restoring buildings. These restorationists established the Waterford Foundation in 1943 to "revive and stimulate a community interest in re-creating the town of Waterford as it existed in previous times with its varying crafts and activities.

The Foundation has played an important role in revitalizing the physical fabric of Waterford as well as increasing the public's knowledge of life and work in an early American rural community. In 1970, Waterford and 1,420 surrounding acres were designated a National Historic Landmark.

Another 1943 milestone was the creation of the Waterford Fair (Homes Tour and Crafts Exhibit)open new page - leave site. This annual event now draws some 10,000 visitors the first weekend every October.

How Waterford got its name Top of page

Waterford had two or three names in colonial times; Janney's Mill, Fairfax, and Milltown. While the first two names are part of the historical record, the third's textural appearance in found first in 1915, the anonymous writer asserting that "Mill Town" was a name for the village in its founding era. ... the same anonymous writer, who in 1915 first called the early hamlet "Mill Town," also forwarded to us the origin of the village's present name: "One of the most enterprising citizens an Irish Shoemaker by the name of Thomas Moore had emigrated this country from or near Waterford in Ireland. And he very patriotically named the rising city for the place of his birth..."* As to when the name changed, my property, on the Old Wheatland Road west of Waterford, is described in a 1770 deed as on "the Great Road to Janney's Mill." Twelve years later the farm is on "the Great Road from The Gap [later Hillsboro] to Janney's Mill, now Waterford." Thomas Moore might have had persuasive powers, for the bustling seaport city of Waterford has little in common with the village, save for the latter's two fords and water. Waterford, Ireland, though, did have a substantial Quaker community.And there were several Janney's mills in Loudoun County.
From Loudoun Discovered by Eugene Scheelopen new page - leave site

* Although, Thomas Moore is generally credited with naming the village of Waterford after his hometown in Ireland, this is unsubstantiated. It is at least as likely that the village was named for the critical ford which crossed Catoctin Creek at the present location of the Mill bridge. The ford would have been an important feature as the village expanded over the terrace area adjoining Janney's Mill.