Purcellville sites make the national register

The Purcellville Train Station "was the center of all commercial activity," says the town's planning chief.
The Purcellville Train Station "was the center of all commercial activity," says the town's planning chief. (1951 Photo By William Streit)
By Timothy Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 13, 2010

When Purcellville bought a renovated train station from a nonprofit preservation organization about six years ago, the transaction included the stipulation that the building eventually would be listed on a national register for historic places.

Last month, the town came through with its end of the agreement. The Purcellville Train Station -- along with the Tabernacle/Skating Rink -- was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"I think it's a great fit," said Meredith Thomas, president of the Purcellville Preservation Association. The train station has "kind of become the image of Purcellville. It just tends to be a place the community gravitates towards."

Built in 1904, the train station at 200 N. 21st St. is used for community meetings. The Tabernacle at 250 S. Nursery Ave. was built the same year to host concerts and religious and civic events. It became a skating rink in 1939.

The process to become listed on the national register begins with a nomination from a state historic preservation office. In March, both properties were listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register.

About 79 locations throughout Loudoun County are on the national register. The National Park Service maintains the list of more than 80,000 structures, sites and districts that symbolize the country's historical and cultural foundation.

Martha Semmes, director of planning and zoning for Purcellville, said both Purcellville sites were important to the town's development.

"The train station was the center of all commercial activity," she said. "All the roads in Purcellville led to the train station."

The station was part of the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, which ran from Alexandria to Bluemont. By 1968, the railway had ceased operations, and the station was turned into a warehouse. The Purcellville Preservation Association bought the property and had it restored in 1999.

"Its restoration has helped spur our restoration of downtown," Semmes said.

The Tabernacle was closed last year when signs of structural weakness were discovered. A re-opening will be scheduled after a two-part $500,000 renovation project is done in September.

Although being placed on the national register might not provide any financial gain, Semmes said the honor signifies the importance of both landmarks and the responsibility to preserve them.

"It gives us extra incentive to ensure that these properties are preserved for future generations," she said.

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