Crooked Run Valley Rural Historic District: Summary Architectural Description

 

 

The Crooked Run Valley Rural Historic District encompasses approxi-

mately 18,630 acres in the northwestern corner of Fauquier County,

Virginia. The boundaries of the district were selected to include both

significant historic architectural resources, as well as significant land-

scape features, vistas, and open spaces. The area contains examples of

the eleven landscape characteristics evidencing human use or activity

as identified in National Register Bulletin 30 which include landscape

use and activities; patterns of spatial organization; response to the natural environment; cultural traditions, circulation networks; boundary demarca-

tions; vegetation related to land use; buildings, structures, and objects;

clusters (i.e., complexes of buildings); archaeological sites; and small

scale elements (e.g., stone walls, road traces). These physical character-

istics reflect the activities and habits of the people who occupied, develop-

ed, used, and shaped the land to their needs over the 250-year history of

the Crooked Run Valley.

 

Route 17 (Winchester Road), the main transportation route through the

area, is oriented north to south through the center of the eight-mile-long

valley and connects Interstate 66 and Route 55 (John Marshall Highway)

in the south with Route 50 (John S. Mosby Highway) in the north. The

valley is approximately 20 miles northwest of Warrenton, the county seat,

and 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. The rural beauty of the area is

further enhanced by the presence of such natural, conservation, and recrea-

tional areas as Sky Meadows State Park, which lies within the district on

the northwest side; the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area,

a portion of which lies within the district adjacent to Sky Meadows State

Park on the southwest; and the Appalachian Trail, which crosses through

the district at Sky Meadows State Park. The Crooked Run Valley is located

in the heart of the Mosby Heritage Area, which was formed in 1995 as the Commonwealth's first heritage area and was designated to increase aware-

ness of the historic, cultural, and natural qualities that distinguish this part

of Northern Virginia. The area was named for Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby, whose Rangers harried the Union troops in the region throughout

the Civil War, and the area remains much the same as Mosby might have

found it.

 

While predominantly rural, the district also includes the small, nineteenth-

century villages of Paris and Delaplane. In the northern part of the district,

Paris, located at the junction of Route 17 and Route 50, initially began in

the 1780s to accommodate travelers at the divergence of the two major

roadways. In 1810, Peter Glascock formally established and planned a town

to include 14 streets, but only three major streets (Republican, Federal, and

Main) were developed and contained 44 building lots. Glascock, a veteran

of the American Revolutionary War, named the town in honor of the Marquis

de Lafayette. Delaplane, originally named Piedmont Station, is located in the southern area of the historic district east of Route 17 and north of Goose Creek. This village was established in 1852 as one of the stops along the newly

chartered Manassas Gap Railroad. In 1874, the village's name was changed

to Delaplane, after Washington E. Delaplane, owner of the mercantile store

and the town's postmaster. The village contains a significant concentration of nineteenth-century historic resources and includes the historic rail line,

which is still active and presently is operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad.

The settlement of Scuffleburg, established in 1781, also is included in the

district. Located near the center of the district, the settlement was known as "Mechanicsville" prior to the Civil War. Two wheelwrights, a blacksmith,

and other mechanical inventors populated the small community. The settle-

ment is also notable as a favorite meeting place of Mosby's Rangers.

 

The physical character of the land in the Crooked Run Valley, which is locat-

ed in a transitional area between the physiographical provinces of the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge Mountains, is generally rolling to steep. Streams dissect the area creating narrow winding valleys and areas of broad, flat floodplains. The district lies within the Goose Creek watershed, which is part of the Potomac

River drainage basin. The waterways of the valley have played an important

role in the development of the land. The major streams in the district include Crooked Run flows roughly north to south through the district and parallels

Route 17 for much of its course. Gap Run (Bent Run) flows northwest to south-

east through the district and Kettle Run (Hany's Run) is located on the south-

western edge of the district between Naked Mountain and Brushy Mountain.

All three of these streams are tributaries to Goose Creek. The district is also

dotted with man-made ponds developed for agricultural and recreational uses.

 

Foothills of the Blue Ridge lying within the district include: Brushy (eleva-

tion 1097 feet above mean sea level [amsl]); Lost (elevation 1041 feet amsl);

and Ball (elevation 1006 amsl) mountains. Naked Mountain (elevation 1470

feet amsl) is adjacent to the district on the southwest across Kettle Run. The

areas closest to the mountains are underlain by greenstone or granitic rock,

while the foothills are underlain by granite. The soils in the area were origi-

nally quite stony, as is evidenced by the numerous historical stone fences

that still surround many of the pastures in the valley and have been used for centuries as land division markers. The land and soils (largely Catoctin and Brandywine) of the valley make it largely unsuited for crop production; how-

ever, bluegrass, orchard grass, and fescue pastures thrive in the region and

hay, at present mostly orchard grass and fescue, is the most extensive crop

grown. Forested areas contain a mixture of second growth hardwoods (oaks, hickories) and pines. A few pine tree farms have been planted within the

district. Large commercial apple and peach orchards, once plentiful in the

area, are now operated on a smaller scale. In the mid-twentieth century,

Leed's Manor Apple Orchard, located adjacent to the district on the south-

west, was one of the largest commercial orchards in the state. The predom-

inant agricultural activities in the valley have been the breeding and grazing

of beef cattle and horses. Sheep and milk cows have been raised on a smaller scale. The agricultural heritage of the valley, however, is one characterized

by a diversity of pursuits, generally on a subsistence level, but also operated

on a commercial level.

 

The 428 contributing architectural resources in the Crooked Run Valley

Rural Historic District are primarily domestic in nature and include examples dating from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. These include a handful of resources dating from the mid-eighteenth century, a large number

of resources dating from the Antebellum Period with a high concentration

in the villages of Paris and Delaplane, and a large number of resources from

the Reconstruction Period through the early twentieth century. Many of these resources are farm dwellings associated with complexes of agricultural out-

buildings including barns, silos, meat houses, icehouses, machine sheds, and

other functional buildings, and are often located on large tracts of land. Late-nineteenth- and early-to- mid-twentieth century tenant houses associated with these large farms dot the landscape. Together, these resources reflect the grow-

th and development of the traditionally agriculturally based and self-sufficient society that has occupied the Crooked Run Valley for over 250 years.

 

Though dwellings make up a large percentage of the resources in the district,

the area contains a variety of building types executed in a wide range of arch-

itectural styles. In addition to the domestic and agricultural resources noted, churches, schools, commercial, and industrial buildings (e.g., mills) also are present and help to illustrate the historical tapestry of life in the valley. As will

be discussed in the next section, these resources are associated with the histor-

ical themes of agriculture, education, religion, military, transportation, industry

and African-American heritage.

 

The natural landscape of the Crooked Run Valley is complemented by such cultural features as stone fences and historic roadbeds that continue to serve

as county roads winding picturesquely through the farms, ridges, and smaller valleys. Many of the abandoned roadways are still visible on the landscape.

An example is the former Boston-Yerby Mill Road, part of which lies within

Sky Meadows State Park and now serves as a hiking trail.

 

Modern development in the valley is predominantly residential or agricul-

tural in nature. Most new development in the district respects the historic settlement patterns of the valley, which is characterized by generously sized estates or farms.

 

The Crooked Run Valley's combination of rolling hills, open pastures, small villages, and dramatic mountain backdrops provides for many varied vistas

and scenic views. The spectacular view of the Crooked Run Valley from Route

50 at Ashby's Gap in the northwest comer of the district takes in the eastern

slope of the Blue Ridge, rolling hills, woodlands, farms, ponds, and the vil-

lage of Paris, and stretches east to the Bull Run Mountains and south to the Cobbler Mountains. It is one of the most photographed views in the state and,

in 1999, Scenic America named the valley and its surrounding land area one

of America's "Last Chance Landscapes."

 

 

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