Soon, Milton was shipping “nature’s own remedy” to as far away as Chicago; even Congress got deliveries. He also set about creating a spa around the spring and laid out about 200 building lots, many of which, like those of the Dawsons, were a quarter-acre. Thus was born Paeonian Springs, which is considered to be the first modern-day subdivision in Loudoun County.
Stores opened, the train stopped eight times a day, and at one point visitors could stroll a mile-long boardwalk. Several boardinghouses began operations, including Chanbourne, today the home of Shally and Tim Stanley. The Stanleys moved to Paeonian Springs from Springfield almost a dozen years ago to have a big yard and a big house for their family, and Shally Stanley loves the quiet they found there. “It is a phenomenal community,” she said.
Both Chanbourne and the Dawsons’ house, which opened in 1903 as the Paeonian Spring Academy, are part of the village’s historic district. Paeonian Springs is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
Those designations came about almost as a byproduct of a struggle the village people waged against Dominion Power, which in 2006 wanted to put soaring electric lines along the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail, which runs smack through town.
“People around here don’t boss easily,” said Cornelius “Corky” Shiflett, who was involved in that fight. Shiflett and his wife, Betty, who have lived in their 1890 house for more than 50 years, literally would have been in the shadow of the 150-foot power-line towers. To add insult to the injury, although frequent outages are a common complaint in the village, the new lines were to carry electricity elsewhere.
Pat Sloyan fought the power company, too. In fact, he said, “I led the charge.” The 1992 Pulitzer Prize winner (for coverage of the Persian Gulf War for Newsday) and his wife, Phyllis, moved to Paeonian Springs from Takoma Park 43 years ago. Like the Stanleys, they wanted more room but couldn’t afford closer-in prices. They drew a 50-mile circle around Washington and found their 1892 Victorian, complete with turret, in Paeonian Springs. “The village was a great place to bring up kids,” said Phyllis Sloyan.