Longtime preservation and conservation leader Al Van Huyck was named the Loudoun Preservation Society’s Preservationist of the Year Thursday night during the society’s annual grants awards reception, held jointly with the Joint Architectural Review Board’s awards for excellence in projects around the county at the Birkby House in Leesburg.
The all-volunteer organization was founded in 1974 to preserve the historic, cultural and natural resources of the county. Since its inception, the organization has given more than $850,000 to a variety of organizations through its annual grants program.
Five organizations received grant money this year.
• The Friends of Bluemont received a grant of $4,900 toward its work to restore the circa 1825 Snickersville Academy, a one-room log structure that served as the village’s first school and church. The grant will help fund correction of structural defects in the building’s foundation.
• The Land Trust of Virginia received $3,000 to help fund a Rural Village and Community Conservation Study of Lincoln, to provide detailed research on the historical, architectural and archeological properties of the village and the Goose Creek Historic District. The grant also will include a public presentation to villagers about the importance of preserving the town’s natural and historic resources, and to education landowners about conservation easements and other protective measures.
• The Mosby Heritage Area Association received an award of $1,000 to help defray printing and distribution costs of its new 64-page booklet titled “Hunting for the Gray Ghost in Northern Virginia’s Mosby Heritage Area: A Sesquicentennial Motoring Guide."
• Oatlands, the historic mansion built by George Carter in 1804 south of Leesburg, received an award of $2,500 to help fund repairs to a large area of plaster in the east stairwell that fell as a result of the August 2011 earthquake, as well as other damage.
• The final recipient of this year’s grants was the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun. As presenter Cheryl Sidowski noted, the church has a connection with Oatlands in that it was founded in 1890 by former slaves of Oatlands Plantation. The LPS grant of $4,500 will partially fund repairs to the church roof where water has caused damage.
The partnership with Joint Architectural Review Board is in its fourth year, and the boards’ awards program highlights outstanding private and public preservation efforts around the county and their importance—both in county and town historic districts as well as the Community Blue Ribbon awards to projects outside designated districts.
The first two awards, for Signage, went to Middleburg projects—at The French Hound and Foxfire Gallery & Antiques, which board member Pamela Mickley Albers called exemplary models of signage.
Saying it’s well known the “details make or break” a project, board member Dieter Meyer announced Fianna Investments as the winner of the Architectural Detail award. P.R. Construction and the family investment group headed by Scott Gustavson were lauded for the meticulous reconstruction of attic dormers on the 18th century building at 19 North King Street, that is now the home of Leesburg Today.
There were three award winners in the Addition category, cited for their attention to detail and efforts to maintain as much historical authenticity with the original building as possible.
The first was the circa 1923 Bluemont School that was abandoned in the 1960s but saved by the community for use as a community gathering center. The county government in 2009 began a detailed restoration of the entire building, which opened last year, including an addition to the rear that reflects the main building’s simple dignity, while accessed through a glass hyphen, board member Jane Covington said.
The Waterford Old School was built in 1910. In 1927 a large auditorium was added. That building became a social center for the community and, until it was destroyed by fire in early 2007. The “Old School New Auditorium,” as some call it jokingly, Covington said, opened last May. Re-located to the east of the fire-damaged but restored Old School, the addition was cited for its attention to detail in designing a building compatible with the existing structure and for contributing to the overall character of the Waterford Historic District.
The third excellence of design for an addition went to the fellowship hall constructed to the rear of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in the Middleburg Historic District. Albers said the sensitively designed building provides office, kitchen and meeting space for the historic church building.
The New Construction award went to the Magazine family for their striking Auto Wash Station in Purcellville—on property the family had previously sold but repurchased out of “nostalgia” in 2011 and re-opened with an entirely new car wash, based on the family’s Station Auto Wash in Leesburg.
Two awards were made in the Restoration category—both in the Leesburg Historic District. The first went to the Marshall House (formerly Dodona Manor) for its meticulous and comprehensive multi-year, five-phase restoration of Gen. George C. Marshall’s and his wife Katherine Marshall’s Leesburg home.
The second restoration award went to St. James Episcopal Church for the painstaking restoration of the church’s stained glass windows, which represented “an extraordinary effort,” the JARB found.
Tari Orthodontics won the Façade Improvement Award. The building was a restaurant, then a teen center and then Realtor Sherry Wilson’s headquarters before Dr. Tari bought the building and redesigned it to become her dental office. She was lauded for her innovative design that transformed the building into an inviting space and fit well with existing commercial buildings in town.
The three Community Blue Ribbon awards were awarded to excellent restoration projects that are not located in a county or town historic district.
Furr Farm owners Chester and Laura Lea Moore received the first blue ribbon award for the ongoing restoration of agricultural buildings at the farm, once the site of a bloody Civil War cavalry battle but also the site of early reconciliation after the war, becoming one of only two locations to honor northern soldiers. In presenting the award, Covington said it was rare to see the restoration of all the agricultural buildings at historic properties because in today’s world so many have become obsolete.
The 1913 Lucketts School, now the Lucketts Community Center, was cited for the meticulous restoration of the 100-year-old school, including its pressed tin ceiling, bell tower and windows, complete with their rope and pulley system.
The last blue ribbon award went to the Frederick Douglass Elementary School Memorial Wall, and Loudoun County Public School Superintendent Edgar D. Hatrick called a crowd of present-day elementary students, teachers and school and black history professionals to the dais, to recognize all those who worked on the project to create an interpretive exhibit to honor and educate the public about the former black school, which closed in 1982.
The LPS Preservationist of the Year Award goes to an organization or individual who has contributed outstanding services to historic preservation in the county, Kimball said, and no one represented a wider area of service in that respect than Van Huyck. The society adopted a resolution honoring the Round Hill area resident’s commitment, “through his words and actions, to the preservation and conservation of Loudoun County.”
That commitment included Van Huyck’s service on the Loudoun County Planning Commission from 1996-2003, and as its chairman in 2002; service on numerous committees, boards and commissions, including that of the LPS; his founding of the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition, where he is the current chairman, and the Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In closing, the resolution applauded Van Huyck’s “tireless contributions of time and knowledge,” which exemplifies “how the actions of one individual can make a significant difference.”
In accepting the award, Van Huyck acknowledged an important instruction given to him years ago by the late John G. Lewis, one of the first to survey Loudoun’s historic architecture.
Lewis, who helped Van Huyck and his wife Betty in restoring their historic house, told Van Huyck it was his responsibility to preserve the house as a historic asset and pass it on to others.
In line with that message, Van Huyck said we all are responsible as stewards of the county’s historic resources, which are not just the great houses, but smaller dwellings, the county’s gravel roads which troops trod on their way to battle during the Civil War, its mountains, rivers, water, its air—all the facets that make up the fabric of the county. “It’s a great task,” he said, but one well worth doing.