serendipity: the waterford fair…an unimpeded photo op of awesome doors and door knockers

serendipity: the waterford fair…an unimpeded photo op of awesome doors and door knockers
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

It was the first weekend in October and we decided to venture out that Saturday.  As we left the house at noon driving east from Round Hill toward Waterford and the Waterford House Tour and Crafts Exhibit, the skies were dark and ominous. Rain seemed more of a certainty than a possibility. But, as luck would have it, all that changed as we parked out in a pasture and made our way up the grass-covered (and cow-pie filled) hill toward the beautiful circa 1733 Village of  Waterford, Virginia.  As we waited in line to purchase our tickets, we exchanged greetings with our good friends; Joe, Karen and their daughter.  They had departed their city dwellings to join us for the day in the country.  As we said our hello, the clouds miraculously  broke and high-tailed it north leaving the sky clear and blue. I guess the threat of rain and the very scary skies from earlier must have frightened many because the crowd seemed a little light. The streets of Waterford, closed to automobile traffic for the weekend-long fair, are usually teeming with throngs of pedestrians touring the open historic homes, watching artisans ply their craft and sampling the wares of the hundreds of vendors that make their way to the fair each year.  The Waterford Fair has been held on the first weekend in October for almost 70 years. This year’s less than robust crowd offered my Stephanie a rare opportunity…almost complete and uninterrupted photo-op access to the windows, doors, architectural elements and some really cool door knockers on the amazing homes in the historic village. The photographs are included throughout this post. They are fantastic, if I do say so myself.

The Village of Waterford, Virginia was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970 due in part to the tireless efforts of the Waterford Foundation in addition to the Village’s relatively untouched setting so close the nation’s capital.  The architecture is a mix of frontier log cabins, colonial stone homes, beautiful Federal-style brick structures and interesting Victorian homes with equally interesting wrap-around porches. But, the doors, the doors are, too a door, exceptional. A crescendo of bright bold colors and soft dusty pastels.  The designs and methods of construction are as varied and as incredible as the buildings themselves. Then, of course there are the door knockers. Fox Heads and Lion Heads with the knocker clenched in their mouths. Twisted ropes of brass, an ornate Roman god and a heavy bronze pre-historic dolphin

Second Street School

“In 1866, Quaker Reuben Schooley (1826-1900) sold its Second Street property to the “colored people of Waterford and vicinity.” The local African-American population, with financial help from the Quakers, promptly erected a school building they could also use for church functions. This is one of the older one-room schoolhouses in Loudoun County and may be the oldest African-American house of worship. The school finally closed its doors in 1957.”

The simple one-room frame school on Second Street was built just two years after the Civil War ended. Opened under the auspices of the Freedmen’s Bureau, it was Waterford’s first school for the black community. The Friends’ Association of Philadelphia, Waterford’s local Quaker meeting, and a “colored educational board” provided additional support. The first teacher was Miss Sarah Ann Steer, a white Quaker living nearby.

Early classes were large. The District Superintendent’s report to the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1868 recorded 63 enrolled, with an average attendance of 42. Twenty-eight were older than 16. By the early 1870s the school became part of the county’s new public school system. Schools for white children in Waterford remained private for another decade.


The desks were teeming with the carved initials of children past.

Our son Easton was not enthusiastic being photographed in the

“dunce cap” while our friends’ daughter was the poster-child.

There were 155 juried heritage craftspeople providing hands-on

demonstrations, entertainers performing traditional music and dance

and Colonial and Civil War-era militia reenacting campsite life.

Toward the end of the day and tucked into a small pasture behind a tall hedge we happened upon an enclave of craftsmen including a skilled iron forger, Gerald Boggs of Wafarer Forge in Afton, Virginia. Gerald was welcoming and his finished pieces were interesting so we stood and watched him as he worked. He explained his craft in great detail to several interested children, including our son Easton, who stood a safe distance from his hammer and anvil watching the sparks fly.  While we watched, he forged an amazing wizard head all while describing each step in the process. Stephanie interest was peeked by the symbolic pendants and came home with the circular shaped one with the curved tails. Gerald explained that it was an ancient symbol said to ward off evil and demons (oh yea, and TROLLS!).

More lovely photos from the day…

aaah… kiddom!

When is the last time you rolled down a grassy hill

or kicked back on the grass in the sunshine?

A day to be shared among friends and a shout-out to girlfriend Karen

for wearing one of Stephanie’s leather cuff designs!

Waterford Mill

 “Amos Janney settled in the Loudoun Valley in 1733 and soon after built a log mill on Catoctin Creek, not far from the present location of the Old Mill. His son, Mahlon, developed this family mill into a larger operation by 1762, when he erected a larger mill of wood on a stone foundation, at the site of the present mill. Mahlon’s new mill was a custom mill, grinding not only wheat grown on his own land but also providing services for other farmers settling around “Janney’s Mill.” A sawmill operated adjacent to the large grist mill at various times during the 19th century, providing lumber for buildings. The existing mill was built in the 1820s. This larger mill increased the production capacity-its proportions reflect its importance to the agrarian economy of Waterford.

In 1885, an entrepreneurial mill owner, James Dodd, enhanced the grinding wheel system with roller machinery, making the mill the most technologically advanced in the area. In 1888, a large three-story addition was made to the rear of the mill, doubling its size. The Old Mill ceased operation in 1939. Recognizing its importance to the history of the village, the newly formed Waterford Foundation purchased the building in 1944 to ensure its preservation. The building has been used to display traditional 18th and 19th-century crafts during the annual Homes Tour and Crafts Exhibit for the past 55 years.”


The departing view as we ended our day and returned to our car.


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