The Town of Warrenton, Va., located in the center of Fauquier County about 50 miles west of Washington, exudes quiet charm amid historic buildings and modern shops.
It’s the gateway to Virginia’s Piedmont, a wine region crossing 11 counties. “You can get to 70 wineries from here, so Warrenton is a nice stopover,” said Heather Stinson, the town’s economic development manager. “It’s also a great place to explore on its own. It feels different here. You have space to breathe.”
Will Farley, a real estate agent and resident, was born and raised there, went to college, got married and came back to raise a family. “It’s a real community with a real downtown; not just the crossroads of two streets where they put in a shopping center,” he said.
Downtown activity is centered in the Historic District. Main Street runs about half a mile along a red brick sidewalk of continuous stores, restaurants and notable old structures.
In the courthouse, built in 1890 in the Classical Revival style, Circuit Court cases are still argued. Inside the Fauquier History Museum at the Old Jail, you can see old cells, and outside is a set of wooden stocks in which people were publicly humiliated. The Warren Green Building, an events venue, was once a hotel where the Marquis de Lafayette was feted at a banquet, Andrew Jackson stayed, Theodore Roosevelt dined and the Duchess of Windsor lived.
Independent retailers: Rankin’s True Value Hardware & Sports, one of the oldest shops in town, earlier this month celebrated 50 years in business and a just-completed remodeling.
Sherrie’s Stuff, open since 2011, offers “a little bit of everything from locally made art to dishes from Belgium and tons of knobs,” said owner Sherrie Carter, a town resident since 1983. “Warrenton is home. I like the slower pace compared to Alexandria, where my kids live.”
There’s also Shelf Life Furnishings, Framecraft, Carter & Spence Jewelry, Drum & Strum Music Center, Latitudes Fair Trade and the Mason Enterprise Center for shared office space.
Two news outlets are devoted to local coverage: the weekly Fauquier Times newspaper and the FauquierNow.com website.
On First Fridays, merchants keep their stores open late. The first Friday in May was Gold Cup-themed.
Equestrian tradition: On May 7, the 2016 Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase races were held at Great Meadow, the 250-acre open space and field events venue outside Warrenton.
“There’s a strong equestrian tradition here,” said Stinson. “This was a big event. People dressed up. Ladies wore dresses and hats like you’ve never seen.” Restaurants created horse-themed menus and shops promoted the race in their windows.
Piccadilly Ltd.’s storefront displayed extravagant and colorful hats. “We have a lot of fascinator hats, like the ones Kate Middleton wears, some with nets and feathers. Elegant hats are hard to find,” said Kathryn Lamonia, general manager and daughter of owner Charlotte Sedam. “You can’t just walk into Nordstrom’s and find a dress hat.” The shop will celebrate its 30th anniversary in December.
Living there: The 4¼ -square mile Town of Warrenton, Zip code 20186, is roughly bordered by the Virginia Route 17 spur on the north, Virginia Routes 29 and 15 on the east, the junction of Virginia Routes 29/15 and 17 where it crosses Turkey Run Creek on the south, and on the west from Turkey Run up to Virginia Route 211 in a line parallel to East Shirley Avenue.
There are single-family homes, condos and townhouses. “You can choose a house built in 1905 or 2005 or anything in between,” said Farley, an agent in the Warrenton office of Long and Foster. “The housing market has definitely gotten better in the last couple years. Everyone experienced the crash of ’06 and ’07 but now the lack of inventory helps pricing.”
Twenty-seven properties are for sale, at prices ranging from $114,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom 1900 bungalow for $114,000 to a six-bedroom, six-bathroom estate on eight acres for $1,895,000.
Twenty-one properties are under contract, at prices ranging from $182,500 for a two-bedroom, three-bathroom condo to $439,900 for a five-bedroom, four-bathroom single-family home.
In the past year, 203 homes were sold, ranging from $81,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo to $625,000 for a four-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family 1939 Colonial.
Shopping: In Warrenton, grocery stores include Food Lion at 613 Frost Ave., Safeway at 189 West Lee Hwy., Giant at 41 West Lee Hwy. and Harris Teeter at 530 Fletcher Dr. In Gainesville, Wegmans is at 8297 Shops Square. Sears is at 141 West Lee Hwy., Marshalls at 251 West Lee Hwy., Walmart is at 700 James Madison Hwy. and Home Depot is at 267 Alwington Blvd.
Schools: James G. Brumfield Elementary, Warrenton Middle, Fauquier High.
Transit: The trip from Washington is about an hour along Interstate 66 and then Virginia Route 29 or Virginia Route 17. Warrenton is between Culpeper and Gainesville. The approximately 70-mile drive from Warrenton to Charlottesville is a scenic tour because it goes past the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park. Warrenton-Fauquier Airport is a reliever airport for Dulles International and Reagan National airports.
Crime: According to the Warrenton Police Department, there were 59 assaults, 14 burglaries and one robbery in the past year.