Approaching Lovettsville from the south, two-lane Virginia Route 287 winds gracefully through yellow pastures and up and down gently rolling farmland.
Wood fences cut across the landscape. Horses, cows, red barns, silos and scattered houses dot the countryside. Short Hill Mountain frames the landscape to the west. The scenery at the northern tip of Loudoun County, two miles from the Potomac River and 54 miles from the District, is rural and beautiful.
Eighteen hundred people reside in Lovettsville on 0.9 square miles of land shaped like a multifaceted diamond.
Lovettsville is embraced as the “German Settlement” — Oktoberfest has been celebrated every autumn since 1810 — because Germans settled there in 1732. Less than 100 years later, a man named David Lovett moved there. “He laid out the streets and the grid,” said Elaine Walker, a lifelong resident who spent 22 years as mayor, “and named the town after himself.” It was incorporated in 1876.
Now it’s about to burst with new development — homes, streetscapes, sidewalks, retail, maybe a grocery co-op and clock tower a la Glockenspiel — but the paramount aim will be “to keep the small-town rural feel,” said Town Manager Laszlo Palko.
Not a Sears house: The newer part of town, with contemporary two-level single-family houses, lies west of Route 287, also known as Berlin Pike, which bisects the community. The historic area, with its amalgam of house styles, is to the east.
Mayor Robert Zoldos II, in his second term, lives in a 130-year-old wood-frame two-story house painted cobalt blue. “Too hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but we can pretty much fix anything that goes wrong ourselves,” he said.
“I’ve lived in Loudoun County all my life, and this place replicates where I grew up because it’s rural,” added Zoldos, a deputy fire chief in Fairfax County who has lived in Lovettsville for 18 years after a childhood in Leesburg.
A German house with double front doors sits on East Pennsylvania Avenue; houses on East Broadway are originals from the 1800s; and one imposing white home up a hill where South Berlin Pike meets South Loudoun Street is an old catalogue home. “It’s not a Sears house,” said Zoldos, “but no one is sure whose design it is. People call it ‘not the Sears house.’ ”
Redevelopment coming: Families hang out on the Town Green, which is dominated by the Walker Pavilion, a venue for movies, concerts and games. Eggstravaganza will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday; Volunteer Fest on April 19; an Arbor Day/Earth Day tree-planting on April 22.
The Town Square with its Veterans Memorial is a commemorative spot and another local gathering place. “It’s understated but classic. When you walk up, you say ‘Wow,’ ” said Zoldos. MayFest will be celebrated May 23.
Lovettsville Town Center, with residential development in place but its commercial component long delayed, will soon get a spark of life. “After nearly a decade of negotiations,” said Palko, NV Retail bulldozers will move this spring into a lot now surrounded by a white picket fence to break ground for retail and restaurants.
The Community Center is also about to undergo a redesign, a seven-acre field will be converted into a town park, and 92 acres of grass and low woodland will become a county park. “We’ll get baseball diamonds and tennis courts, trail, pool, multipurpose and equestrian fields. This place will really rock,” said Zoldos. “Sidewalks will give our downtown a pedestrian-friendly feel, and storm-drainage features will prevent flooding.” Rental garden plots to be managed by the Garden Club are under discussion.
Living there: Lovettsville’s jagged borders cut across property lines and seldom line up with streets. The town stretches for several blocks on both sides of Route 287 from Lead Walk Alley and Quarter Branch Road on the north to Route 676 on the south.
Lovettsville, Zip code 20180, covers 576 acres. According to Kathy Shipley, a Lovettsville resident for nearly three decades who is now a real estate agent with Re/Max Premier, housing stock is primarily single-family plus a few duplexes, rental apartment buildings, townhomes and a 55-plus community.
Ten properties are for sale, at prices ranging from $179,500 for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house to $469,900 for a four-bedroom, three-bath house.
Seven properties are under contract, from a $250,000 five-bedroom, three-bath house residence to a $499,000 four-bedroom, four-bath house.
In the past year, 35 properties sold, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bath house for $193,000 to a six-bedroom, four-bath house for $484,500.
Shopping: “There’s limited retail now because of space, and there aren’t many commercially zoned buildings in town,” said Walker, “but that will change with the Town Center construction.” In the meantime, residents drive to Purcellville, 15 to 20 minutes south, to shop at Harris Teeter and Giant Food.
Schools: Lovettsville Elementary, Harmony Middle and Woodgrove High.
Transit: The commute from Lovettsville to Washington is about 54 miles along the Dulles Toll Road and Virginia Routes 7, 9 and 287. “We’re close enough to the city yet far enough away. But my goodness, Loudoun County has so many events you hardly need to go to D.C.,” said Walker.
People can also catch the MARC train in Brunswick, Md., just across the river. If they miss that, they can hustle to the next stop in Maryland at Point of Rocks.
It’s 11 miles to Harpers Ferry, 15 to Leesburg, 20 to Frederick and 31 to Dulles International Airport.
Crime: According to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, Lovettsville had 12 assaults and five burglaries in the past 12 months.
Audrey Hoffer is a freelance writer.