Founding of the Waterford Foundation
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.
By then, however, new life had begun to stir. There was a trickle of people from the Washington area who appreciated Waterford's picturesque buildings and rural setting. Some built new houses along Second Street as vacation homes; others renovated older structures throughout the town. A number of families around this time—Edward and Leroy Chamberlin, McDaniels and Stablers, to name just a few—went to great lengths to preserve Waterford's buildings, traditions, and rural setting.
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.
Another 1943 milestone was the creation of the Waterford Homes Tour and Crafts Exhibit by the Foundation. Started to showcase local crafts people, this annual event now draws some 10,000 visitors the first weekend every October.
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.
The Waterford Foundation has as its dual mission the preservation of the historic buildings and open spaces of Waterford and educating the public about life and work in an early American rural community.