Possible Reprieve for Historic VA Farm

Waterford, VA, August 14, 2003: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that it has a contract to purchase for conservation the 144-acre property known as the Phillips Farm in the Waterford National Historic Landmark District. Earlier this year, the historic farm was sold for suburban development, which, if completed, would remove the National Historic Landmark designation of this 270-year-old village. TPL met a competing offer in order to have the opportunity to preserve the land. TPL is working in concert with The Waterford Foundation, which has until October 31 to raise the funds needed to buy the irreplaceable property and protect the National Historic Landmark.

“We are immensely pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the landowner to purchase the Phillips Farm. Protecting such irreplaceable historic sites is much more difficult once the development process is underway,” said Debi Osborne, field office director of the Trust for Public Land. “Our experience in Virginia and across the country demonstrates strong public support for providing public and private dollars to protect the special places in our communities.”

After months of negotiations, the owners of Phillips Farm, Historic Fields L.L.C., agreed to sell the property to the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit land conservation organization, provided sufficient funds are available by October 31, 2003. Otherwise, the property will be sold for development of 14 housing lots clustered high on a ridge in the heart of the village. Due to the historic importance of this particular farm, such development would have caused irreversible damage to the nationally recognized landmark. Currently, The Waterford Foundation has raised approximately $2.2 million of the $3.9 needed for the purchase. The Foundation is looking to raise the remaining $1.7 million from public sources and private donations. If the necessary funds are raised by the Waterford Foundation, TPL will convey the property to the foundation.

“The rural setting and productive agricultural land in the historic Waterford Landmark is a national treasure that hosts visitors from around the world who experience living history and learn about our county’s rich heritage,” said U.S Senator John Warner, R-Va.

With strong support from federal, state, and local elected officials, the Waterford Foundation recently received an $800,000 award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program (FRPP) to place conservation easements on properties within the Waterford National Historic Landmark area. These funds, which must be matched, will go toward the purchase of an easement on the Phillips Farm. The Waterford Foundation also received a preservation grant from the federal transportation enhancement program.

The Phillips Farm is named for the owner of the property and the adjoining mill in the early 1800s. The property is an irreplaceable component of Loudoun County’s agricultural land base. Loudoun County, Virginia is the second fastest growing county in the country. This is balanced with its remarkable history of conservation success, primarily through donated conservation easements. Loudoun County remains committed to maintaining its agricultural economic base (currently ranked 20th out of 95 Virginia counties for total agricultural sales), and continues to make progress with its Purchase of Development Rights and Land Use Assessment programs.

“We are immensely grateful for the vision and insight of federal agencies such as the USDA National Resources Conservation Service and Department of Transportation that provide funding and grants for the protection of invaluable cultural and historic resources such as this,” said Waterford Foundation President Kevin Ruedisueli.

“Our congressional delegation has led the way with federal funding that we now must leverage with support from organizations and individuals that recognize the critical importance of this property and want to play a role in its permanent protection,” said Cate Magennis Wyatt, chair of the Save the Landmark Committee and member of the Waterford Foundation board of directors.

The Waterford Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1943 to preserve the historic village of Waterford and its surrounding agricultural area and to increase public knowledge of life and work in an early American rural community. For the past sixty years, it has sponsored the annual Waterford Fair the first weekend of October to help accomplish its educational programs and raise funds to support its mission. For decades, the Waterford Foundation has worked with existing landowners within the town and surrounding farms to retain their historic character while remaining economically viable. For more information visit www.savewaterford.org or www.waterfordva.org.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.5 million acres of land nationwide, including more than 12,000 acres in Virginia. Successes in the commonwealth include the creation and expansion of Kiptopeke State Park on the eastern shore, a 1,400-acre addition to Caledon Park and Natural Area along the Potomac River, and the establishment of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission.