"One day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2 Peter 3:8)
1940: Blacks organized a County-Wide League, composed of the PTAs of black schools, in 1935 to improve the quality of education. In 1939, under the leadership of Gertrude Alexander, the first superintendent of black teachers, the league campaigned for a new high school. In February 1940, Middleburg's Shiloh Baptist Church holds the first Negro History Week, sponsored by the league. The speaker, lawyer Charles Houston, points to unacceptable conditions in black schools, a lack of equipment, no school buses and unequal teachers' pay. Next month he sends a letter to that effect to the Board of Supervisors and School Superintendent Oscar Emerick.
1940: Getting nowhere, Houston suggests forming a Loudoun chapter of the NAACP, which has money to litigate the "separate but equal" rule. In March, the chapter receives its charter. Its president is Marie Medley, a Leesburg beautician, who is a persuasive talker while doing a customer's hair.
1940: The league has raised $4,000 to buy eight acres in Leesburg for a high school, and John Wanzer, Middleburg blacksmith and league president from 1938 until his death in 1957, makes a gift of that land to the School Board, which agrees to pay for the construction of Douglass High School, named for the black educator Frederick Douglass. The school opens in 1941, receives accreditation and graduates its first three-year class of five students in June. The school graduates its first four-year class in 1949 and remains the county's high school for blacks through May 1968.
1941-1945: Thousands of Loudoun residents serve in the armed forces. The World War II and then the Korean War dead, numbering 72, are noted on the courthouse lawn's second memorial: "Their Name Liveth For Evermore." Unlike the World War I memorial, the names of the dead are no longer segregated by race. At home, farmers receive free fertilizer and lime, and 85 percent of the county's farms receive "approved soil" ratings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1944-1945, about 170 German prisoners of war toil on Loudoun farms and orchards. Blacks and poor whites claim that Germans receive better treatment than they do.
1942: For five months, the tenacious Vinton Liddell Pickens attends Board of Supervisors meetings to lobby for land-use planning and a zoning ordinance. Her effort, aided by a wartime lull in construction, pays off as Loudoun becomes the first rural Virginia county to adopt a zoning ordinance and the first county in the United States to adopt an anti-billboard ordinance.
1944: In the '20s, on Wallace George's pasture just east of Leesburg on Edwards Ferry Road, barnstorming pilots would take you for a spin for a stray dollar or two. Now, with a war on, the country needs airports, and the government pays $300,000 to build George's Field. In 1950, entertainer and flying buff Arthur Godfrey buys the field and lands his plane there, extolling it over the airwaves as "Arthur Godfrey's International Cow Pasture." In 1965, Leesburg Airport opens on the other side of town, with half of its $500,000 cost paid for by Godfrey and the other half by the Federal Aviation Administration. For decades, the airport will be called Godfrey Field.
1945-present: Waterford had held its first fair in 1943, and by war's end the annual three-day gala attracts thousands. Realizing that old houses and a country atmosphere bring in cash, other villages later begin summer fairs: Bluemont in 1969, Lucketts in 1972, and Leesburg in 1976 with its August Court Days--a resurrection of the century-old celebration that ended after a lynching during the 1902 Court Days. Proceeds fund preservation efforts and numerous county organizations.
1945-circa 1970: Life in Loudoun is simple. Local residents shop in downtown Leesburg, Middleburg and Purcellville--and do their serious shopping in Winchester. Lumber is supplied by J.T. Hirst & Co. in Leesburg or Myers' in Purcellville. Hardware of any vintage comes from Nichols Hardware in Purcellville. For dining out, there's the White Palace in Purcellville, Johnson's in Leesburg or the Coach Stop in Middleburg; at all three, blacks are served at the back door, carryout only. Each of the three towns has a movie theater; again, blacks sit in the balcony only. For other entertainment, there's Cousin Minnie Pearl at Watermelon Park on the Shenandoah, or Patsy Cline and other diversions at the Brunswick Moose Hall.
There are no four-lane roads. Half the county roads are dirt, and few people complain. Washington is far, far away, a place hardly anyone visits until they reach their twenties. For the few who commute, it takes an hour to drive from west of Leesburg to Washington. In the morning, they hit one traffic signal before the usual 10-car rush-hour backup at the Chain Bridge light.
1950s-1960s: Dairying is at its height, and more than 180 county farms, usually within five miles of the railroad, together produce an average of 10 million gallons a year. Dairy farming's decline comes later, as milk prices fail to keep up with inflation, farmhands leave for better-paying jobs and land is sold for development. The construction of Dulles International Airport alone removes 8,000 acres of farmland in 1958. Two dairy farms remain in Loudoun now: Edwin Potts's Orchardcrest, on the Blue Ridge, and Robert Potts's Dogwood, near Lincoln.
1951: Robert Barnes Young, a lawyer for the U.S. Senate, buys the 706-acre Miskel's Farm, scene of Mosby's 1863 turnabout victory, and divides it into half-acre and one-acre lots that sell for $1,000, and 10-acre lots on the Potomac River that sell for $10,000. He calls Loudoun's first large subdivision Broad Run Farms. By 1958 all the lots are sold, and Sen. Everett M. Dirksen (R-Ill.) is the subdivision's famous resident.
1954: High school consolidation is complete with opening of Leesburg's Loudoun County High. In 1953, the last rural one-room school for whites, Mountain Gap School, closes, followed by Waterford School, the last one-room school for blacks, in 1957.
1956: Two years have elapsed since Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that outlawed school segregation. Loudoun Commonwealth's Attorney Sterling Harrison introduces a resolution, unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors: "In the event the integration edict is imposed upon the public school system, there will not be forthcoming any funds for the maintenance and operation of any school." Loudoun will be one of the last counties in Virginia to desegregate schools.
1956: Growing Washington suburbs need drinking water, and the City of Fairfax successfully petitions the Circuit Court for permission to dam Goose Creek. Loudoun cannot stop the project because it has no master development plan and no inventory of historic sites to pinpoint those that will be submerged: four stone locks and three dams of the 1850s Goose Creek navigation system. Eleven years later, Fairfax City builds a second dam and 500-acre reservoir on Beaverdam Creek, a tributary of the Goose.
1957: In the first serious test of a county ordinance prohibiting signs of more than 25 square feet, Safeway wants to put up its huge trademark "S" at its Leesburg store across the street from the current Safeway. Clarence Ahalt, chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals, asks Safeway lawyers, "What percent of your business comes from tourists?" The lawyers huddle and answer, "Three percent." Ahalt retorts, "And do you think the remaining 97 percent of us are so stupid we can't find our way to the grocery store?" Safeway gives up the fight.
1957: Samuel Murray, an upholsterer, needs a book from the library to fashion some window shades he is making for the sister of President Eisenhower. He is refused admittance to the Purcellville Library because he is black. No local lawyer will plead his case, and he hires a D.C. lawyer, who informs library trustees that the library, built with federal funds, must be open to all. The trustees vote 7-5 to admit blacks. Leesburg's privately operated Thomas Balch Library, run on a subscription basis, then removes its chairs to keep anyone from sitting down. It becomes a public library when the county takes it over in 1960. When Rust Library opens in 1992 at Ida Lee Park, Balch becomes the county's genealogical and historical library.
1957: Having exhibited its members' best livestock and produce at the old Bush Meeting grounds in Purcellville since 1936, the Loudoun 4-H Club (Head, Heart, Hands, Health) moves to grounds near Clarke's Gap, on land donated by Clarence Ahalt at the urging of fellow Massachusetts native Eugene Sykes. The 4-H Club still exhibits there each August at the annual Loudoun County Fair, to be held for the 65th time in 2000.
1958: WAGE Radio, 1290 on the AM dial, broadcasts from Leesburg, started by Richard Field Lewis, founder of Winchester radio station WINC. With 1,000 watts of power, WAGE can barely be heard in the county's extremities. Jack Brown, the farm extension agent, begins the broadcast day by droning the price of hogs, cattle, wheat and corn. Later, Frank Orrison's basso relates such happenings as the Girl Scouts' annual outing to Fredericksburg, and Hunt Harris makes an hour-long foray into classical music. WAGE is now 5,000 watts and 1200 on the AM dial. Its call letters, assigned from a defunct Syracuse, N.Y., station, have no known meaning.
1961-1969: For the county's nearly 5,000 blacks, it is the decade of integration. Two prime activists are William McKinley Jackson, a Middleburg builder and for 25 years head of the county's NAACP chapter; and the Rev. Albert Pereira, a Catholic priest. Faced with the threat of national boycotts, Middleburg and Leesburg drugstore lunch counters desegregate in April 1961. Public schools begin their six-year process of integration in fall 1963; Carver, Banneker and Douglass elementary schools graduate their last all-black classes in 1969, as does Douglass High School, whose commencement theme is: "A Past to Be Proud Of." Movie theaters desegregate in 1965, baseball leagues in spring 1968. In Leesburg, during the summer of '65, rather than open their pool to blacks, the firemen fill it in with stone and concrete.
1962: After four years of construction, Dulles International Airport opens, named for former secretary of state John Foster Dulles. It is the world's first airfield to use mobile lounges that carry passengers to a midfield terminal. The main terminal, designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, simulates a bird in flight--with the control tower as the bird's head--and appears to move as one passes the front of the building. Saarinen, who did not live to see the terminal's completion, calls it "the best thing I have ever done."
1962-present: The airport brings water and sewer lines to Loudoun from Fairfax County, encouraging development that covers more than half of eastern Loudoun by the 1990s. Gone are the days when people traveling east from Leesburg said, "We're going down the country."
1962-1980: Marvin T. Broyhill Sr. buys 1,762 acres with two options for using it: build one house per acre, as allowed by the zoning ordinance, or divide the land into smaller residential lots, reserving the rest for businesses, recreation areas and open space--a concept known as a planned community. The Board of Supervisors approves the latter, and Broyhill's development, Sterling Park, sets the style for eastern Loudoun. Sugarland Run follows in 1971 and Countryside in 1980--each planned community a bit ritzier than the previous one. Between 1960 and 1980, the county's population more than doubles, from 24,549 to 57,427. At the same time, the percentage of blacks declines, from 15 percent to 9 percent.
1967: Loudoun launches its plan to lure to tourists with the opening of Oatlands plantation, the gift of Anne Emmet and Margaret Finley; the Loudoun Museum in Leesburg; and Morven Park plantation, the gift of Margaret Inman Davis. Dodona Manor, the Leesburg home of Gen. George C. Marshall, opens to the public in 1995, honoring the Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of the Marshall Plan, which aided Western Europe's economic recovery after World War II. The purchase of Dodona is the culmination of an eight-year fight led by Leesburg's B. Powell Harrison.
1968: After 109 years of serving Loudoun, the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad--the last of its several names--stops freight service, passenger service having ended in 1951. A Loudoun Users' Association had wanted to buy the railroad from the W&OD's parent company, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, but the State Commerce Commission, by a 2-1 vote, gives up the right of way that would have provided a future route for rapid transit. Slow transit wins out in 1978 when the route becomes a bicycle and jogging path.
1971: With one- and three-acre zoning in place since 1959, the county attempts to save larger land parcels by approving 10-acre zoning for some areas, with one house for each 10 acres. Members of the Board of Supervisors, sympathetic to farmers eager to make money by selling to developers, reject stricter measures. By contrast, nearby Rappahannock County adopts 25-acre zoning for the entire county in 1967.
1971: Loudoun's Democratic Party hasn't supported a Democrat for president since Harry Truman in '47. Now, to nominate George McGovern, the local party's liberal wing, led by Leesburg's Cecelia "C.C." Banner, packs the caucus and outmaneuvers the unsuspecting old guard. Many of the leading conservative Democrats become Republicans.
1971: Phil Bolen begins his 20-year career as county administrator. Twenty years later, a changeover from a largely Democratic Board of Supervisors to a Republican board, plus a budget crisis, brings the current county administrator--Kirby M. Bowers, Bolen's assistant for a decade--to the helm.
1971-present: The epic political year of 1971 closes with the six magisterial districts of 1870 becoming seven, then eight in 1975. The districts expand to ensure that the populous east has the same voter representation as the west, although the districts do not adhere to areas of common interest, especially east of Catoctin Mountain. To help equalize the situation, the county makes the board chairman's seat an at-large post in 1991. In the '70s and '80s, Democratic board members from eastern Loudoun are often more sympathetic to preserving the rural west than are some of their western counterparts--still allied with farmers who want to be able to develop their land as their retirement nest egg.
1972-present: The Northern Virginia Park Authority's "Upper Potomac" tract at the Fairfax line becomes the first park in Loudoun, and in 1976 the authority buys Algonkian Park, named for the Indians who first inhabited its 838 acres. In 1977, the county's Department of Parks and Recreation purchases its first park, and in 1987 it buys land for the 357-acre Claude Moore Park. Moore had donated the land to the National Wildlife Federation, which, in need of funds, was going to sell to developers. Also in the '80s, Mr. and Mrs. William F. Rust Jr. donate 68 acres to the Town of Leesburg for Ida Lee Park, named for William Rust's grandmother, and Valerie Symington makes a 286-acre gift to the authority of Temple Hall and its historic Mason family home. Loudoun parks now occupy about 4,430 of the county's 330,680 acres.
1973: Dissatisfied with conservation efforts, B. Powell Harrison founds the Piedmont Environmental Council to help increase awareness of the historic and little-changed landscape of the Virginia Piedmont, from Albemarle County north to the Potomac. Some call its adherents "a bunch of fox hunters"; others say it provides a voice of restraint from the onrush of burgeoning Washington. Peggy Maio has been Loudoun's representative on the council since 1985.
1974-1981: Lawyer Phil Ehrenkranz and architectural historian John Lewis lead the fight to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from damming 3,820 acres of Catoctin Creek and submerging the historic village of Taylorstown to provide water to the Washington area. Out of the controversy arises a new Virginia law--introduced by then-state Sen. Charles L. Waddell (D-Loudoun)--that one county or city cannot have eminent domain over another. An idea to connect existing reservoirs so they can augment each other ends the fight, in Loudoun's first major political success to keep its countryside.
1974-present: A year after Elizabeth Merrill Furness, of Waverley, near Middleburg, began her campaign to place conservation easements on land, Taylor and Katherine Hardin donate the first Loudoun easement, 419 acres near the village of Howardsville. Today, more than 21,600 acres in the county are under conservation easement; counting parkland, about 8 percent of the county's land is being preserved. In addition, more than 64,000 acres are either in agricultural districts, first formed in 1978, or are taxed on their agricultural value rather than their real estate value.
1990-1995: After 10 years of construction, a four-lane Route 7 traverses western Loudoun from Clarke's Gap to the Blue Ridge, reducing the driving time by 10 minutes. In 1995, the Dulles Greenway, the first private toll road in Loudoun since 1927, opens from Leesburg to Dulles International Airport. From just west of Leesburg, commuting time to Washington now averages 1 1/2 hours, depending on the time of day.
1990: To guide fire and rescue personnel, Loudoun names its roads, replacing numbers that have been changed two or three times since 1932. Most of the roads are given their pre-1932 names, but altered tastes mark the end of some names, including Gravel Pit Lane, Fannie Wilson Hill Road, Boo Hoo Church Road and Miss Sue Wenner's Lane.
1999: Loudoun, with more than 150,000 residents, has become the third-fastest-growing county in the nation. A divergence of lifestyles and interests, evident since the early 1800s, remains between east and west.
The east's infrastructure is largely set, reinforced by the four-lane boulevards and planned communities of Ashburn Farm, Ashburn Village, Broadlands, Cascades and South Riding. They are among Virginia's finest in their presentation of amenities--and foreign lands to longtime county residents. The west is generally conservative, trying to retain a rural way of life, while newcomers arrive seeking country life even as they ask for suburban roads and services.
But eastern and western voters alike, alarmed at the costs of providing services for so many new residents countywide, join to sweep out the Republican majority on the Board of Supervisors and elect a new majority--Democrats, independents and Republicans--who say they favor slowing the pace of growth.
CAPTION: Charles Houston helped set up a local NAACP chapter.
CAPTION: For years, entertainer Arthur Godfrey, right, owned the county's first airport.
CAPTION: Lindsay Potts, 17, and her ninth-generation farm family are among the last to run a dairy farm in Loudoun.
CAPTION: B. Powell Harrison, of Leesburg, has been a leader in historic preservation.
CAPTION: Dulles International Airport, which opened in 1962, brought water and sewer lines west to Loudoun.