Will Development Take Its Toll?

Posted by Carolyn A. Capalbo on Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 2:12pm.

The future of a historic Northern Virginia landmark is looking uncertain, as developers fail to find volunteers willing to take responsibility for its long term survival.

The Broad Run Tollhouse and bridge, in Loudoun County, was among the first buildings to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places back in 1970, but now the site, which has fallen into disrepair, may be facing something of a bleak end.

Built in 1820, the bridge and original tollhouse served travelers using a section of the Leesburg Turnpike, from Alexandria to the Shenandoah Valley. Although tolls were removed in 1924, the bridge remained in use up until the late 1940s, after which users crossed Broad Run by a newly constructed steel span. The distinctive old stone bridge escaped being demolished at this time, thanks to protests from the Leesburg Garden Club. Sadly, without restoration, the bridge fell victim to flooding in 1972, when Hurricane Agnes struck the region. Severely damaged, but still standing, the bridge finally gave way to the elements just four years later. The tollhouse itself, having served variously as a store selling bootleggers' moonshine and as a private residence, still remains pretty much intact, though in need of serious repair.

Now, there are ambitious plans to create a huge development in the area, incorporating recreation, retail, office-space, hotels and 14,000 apartment-style residences. In the initial plans, the developers suggested relocating the tollhouse to a site within the proposed Kincora Village, in order to allow for an extension to Pacific Boulevard. However, following pleas from concerned preservationists, they decided to leave it in place, and redesigned the plans. The site developers have now agreed, in principal, to buy the tollhouse, which went into foreclosure in 2007, and offer it to a non-profit organization, who, it is intended, will oversee its restoration and upkeep. To date no-one has accepted this offer.

Some locals are hoping that Kincora will donate the Broad Run Tollhouse and bridge to the county, with a view to the property being either operated, or held by, the Parks and Recreation department, until funding for restoration can be secured. It has been suggested that the house could ultimately be used as an information center, or educational trailhead as part of the planned Broad Run Trail and Potomac Heritage Scenic Trail.

As valuable as the Kincora Village project may be to the economy of the local area , it's important that as we welcome exciting new developments in Loudoun County, we try to ensure that we also preserve our heritage and the unique history that helped shape this beautiful region.

Carolyn Capalbo,
Northern Virginia REALTOR®

 

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