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Architecture Sites: Early Settlement


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Architecture Sites: Early Settlement


The Crooked Run Valley Rural Historic District encompasses 18,630

acres of picturesque rural landscape in northwest Fauquier County,

Virginia. The district is visually and physically bounded by the Blue

Ridge Mountains on the west and north and foothills, including Lost

Mountain, on the east. The gently rolling topography of the Crooked

Run Valley is interspersed with smaller valleys created by the numer-

ous spring-fed streams that originate in and cross through it. The

Crooked Run, from which the historic district takes its name, flows

through the center of the district and parallels the present course of

Route 17 (Winchester Road). This central transportation artery, based

on a Native American trade route, takes the visitor through the heart

of the district. The waters of the Crooked Run, which joins the larger

Goose Creek near the village of Delaplane, provided power for one

of the valley's earliest industries-mills. The land located within the

historic district is now primarily used for farming or is in unused

pastureland. Over 3,300 acres are held in open-space easement or

are public-owned lands.


The architectural resources in the Crooked Run Valley Rural Historic

District exhibit a variety of styles and building types that illustrate the

history of permanent settlement in the valley during the last 250 years.

The preponderance of these resources are dwellings and, outside of the

villages, are most often associated with a complex of agricultural build-

ings and outbuildings. The abundant local fieldstone was utilized in the construction of many of these dwellings and outbuildings. While the

examples of eighteenth-century architecture in the valley can best be

described as vernacular or of utilitarian design, the early- to mid-nine-

teenth-century architectural resources located within the district exhibit characteristic elements of the Federal, Greek Revival, and Gothic

Revival architectural styles.


The villages of Paris and Delaplane and the settlement of Scuffleburg

stand in contrast to the wide-open rural areas of the district, and further

add to the diversity of architectural resources within the Crooked Run

Valley Rural Historic District. These communities contain early-nineteen-

th- to twentieth-century dwellings, doctors' offices, taverns/inns, churches, groceries, industrial buildings (e.g., tanneries, warehouses, blacksmith

shops, mills), and transportation-related resources.


During the eighteenth century, the land of the Crooked Run Valley was

part of the Northern Neck Proprietary, a tract of over five million acres ly-

ing between the Chesapeake Bay and the headwaters of the Potomac and

held by Thomas 6th Lord Fairfax of Kent, England. In 1731, several large

grants were made involving land within the valley. Part of the land (gener-

ally west of present day Route 17 and across the Blue Ridge Mountains)

was retained by Fairfax as part of his Manor of Leeds. Many of these land

grants were made to wealthy Tidewater residents who had no intentions of

settling in the area that was still very much the frontier. But the grants re-

quired that the land be "seated", so small dwellings often were constructed

by tenants that in some cases would later be replaced by, or encompassed

by, larger dwellings. Many of the earliest dweiiings were temporary, imper-

manent structures, but some were of more substantial construction. A hand-

ful of these valley dwellings remain and continue to exhibit their original

design. Though squatters had occupied land in the region since about the

1730s, it would not be until the late eighteenth century that the land grants

would be subdivided and sold out of the control of absentee owners. Bet-

ween 1754 and 1758, many settlers of the Shenandoah Valley moved east

over the Blue Ridge due to increased hostilities in the area during the

French and Indian War. As the war drew to a close, some of these settlers

would move west again, though some remained in the Crooked Run Valley.


The earliest structures in the historic district were constructed during this

Colonial Period (1750-1789) and were of a simple, vernacular character combining traditional building methods and available materials. These

dwellings were of log, frame, and stone construction. Resources located

in the district and dating to this period include Summerset (also known as

Rose Hill, which is one of the earliest and most intact Colonial Period

dwellings in the county and is believed to have been built sometime prior

to 1759 by John Rout on land included in the 500-acre lot 3 of the division

of James Ball's 1731 grant.4 Rout was one of the "refugees" who had mov-

ed east from the Shenandoah Valley during the French and Indian War.

The property, located on the west side of Route 17 about three- and-a-half

miles north of Delaplane, was later owned by Hezekiah Turner, a native

of Charles County, Maryland, and a captain in the American Revolution

who came to the valley around 1767, and Hezekiah Shacklett (1787). When

he sold the house and 160 acres to Shacklett in 1787, Turner retained own-

ership of the mill, believed to have been constructed for Turner by John

Balthorpe in 1779, which stood south of the house on the banks of the

Crooked Run.  The mill site is located on the southern edge of the property

now known as Delaplane Manor.


The one-and-a-half-story, three-bay frame dwelling known as Summerset

is covered by a steeply sloping, side-facing gable roof clad with fish scale

wooden shingles. A full-width front porch, determined through examination

of the construction to have been original, is raised on stone piers. Large

stone chimneys with stacks that stand free of the gable end wall are located

on either end of the three-room "Quaker" plan section of the dwelling, which

is clad with beaded weatherboard. Painstakingly restored during the 1960s,

the house retains much of its eighteenth-century structure and architecture including original doors, windows, and interior detailing. This property also

is notable for its intact collection of late-eighteenth-and nineteenth-century outbuildings. Around 1790, a separate kitchen, now attached by a twentieth-century hyphen, was constructed south of the house. Other outbuildings on

the property include a stone slave quarters (ca. 1790); a stone plantation

office and an ice house below (ca. 1790) with a mid-nineteenth-century meat house addition to the south; a stone springhouse (ca. 1790); and a frame and

stone stable that was burned during the Civil War and later rebuilt. A frame carriage house was removed from the property around the mid- to late twen-

tieth century.


Yew Hill is another early valley dwelling. Recent dendrochronological dat-

ing has determined that the dwelling was constructed between 1760 and

1761. It was Constructid on land included in Thomas Ashby's 1742 grant,

which he willed to his son Benjamin. In 1753, Thomas Watts operated an

ordinary there; Robert Ashby, who later acquired the land from his brother Benjamin when he moved to Hampshire County (now, West Virginia),

operated the ordinary until the 1790s. Robert Ashby, who became a cap-

tain during the American Revolution, lived at the house until his death

in 1792. The Ashby Ordinary was soon a landmark located at the fork of

the Shenandoah Road (present-day Route 17) andManassas Gap Road

(designated as the western fork of the Shenandoah Road and present-day

Route 55). In 1760, Ashby added to his holdings by purchasing 200 acres

of the former Charles Burgess land grant, which lay on both sides of the Shenandoah-Manasass Gap Road and cornered on Little Cobbler Mountain

on the south. In 1767, George Washington stayed at Ashby's Ordinary on

two occasions, once while serving as a trustee in the settlement of George

Carter's estate, and again in 1769 when he surveyed the land he had pur-

chased on Lost Mountain from Carter's estate. Washington visited Ashby

in 1772 when he made an inspection visit of his Lost Mountain tenants and

again in 1774 when he visited the valley to renew his tenant's leases. Dur-

ing the Civil War, Catherine "Kitty" Shacklett, daughter of Edward Shack-

lett, operated the ordinary. During his stay at the tavern in 1853, Porte

Crayon (David Hunter Strother), noted travel writer and artist of the nine-

teenth century, sketched the house and described his stay at the "old-fash-

ioned cottage."


Located at the northwest comer of the intersection of Route 17 and Route

55, the one-and-a-half-story, threebaywide, frame dwelling rests on a stone foundation and is covered by a steeply pitched gable roof. The dwelling

with its full-width front porch, two stone end chimneys, and covered side

porch (now enclosed) closely resembles the dwelling at Summerset. Exami-

nation of the roof construction, however, has determined that Yew Hill

originally was covered by a clipped gable roof and that the front porch was probably an early addition. Though an addition has been constructed to the

rear of Yew Hill and the formerly detached, mid-nineteenth-century kitchen

has been connected to the main house, the dwelling retains much of its orig-

inal material and integrity. The current owner is progressing with a sensitive restoration that will bring back much of the building's eighteenth-century character. Notable outbuildings at Yew Hill include the stone icehouse and

meat house (ca. 181I), an early English threshing barn (ca. 1787), a twen-

tieth-century secondary dwelling, the site of a summer kitchen, and the

remains of a stone springhouse.


Pleasant Vale was the home of John Adams, another early valley resident

who had traveled south from Charles County, Maryland. In 1767, Adams,

together with Zepheniah Turner, another native of Maryland, purchased

lots 4 and 5 of James Ball's 1731 grant division. Ball had died in 1754

leaving appointed commissioners to survey and to divide his 5,000-acre

holdings. Lot 4, originally devised to James Ewell, Sr., encompassed the

area from the northeast side of Naked Mountain to the vicinity of present-

day Scuffleburg. The 1759 surveyors noted on this lot the abandoned log

dwelling known as "Spring Valley" and formerly the home of Captain John Ashby. The dwelling, constructed after 1756, is now part of the Shoemaker

Farm. Lot 5, which was devised to James Ewell, Jr., contained the abandoned dwelling of John Williams; the home of Captain John Ashby, Jr., which makes

up the earliest part ofthe house now known as Greenland; and the dwelling of William Stokes. When Adams and Turner purchased the two 1,000-acre lots

from the Ewells, who  were absentee owners, they soon divided the tracts bet-

ween themselves. Adarns retained the southern half of lot 4 and it was on this

500-acre tract that he established his home, Pleasant Vale.


Constructed around 1768 and located on the west side of Route 724 less than

half a mile south of its junction with Route 826 (Scuffleburg Road), Pleasant

Vale is a one-and-a-half-story, three-bay frame (probably log) house covered

with stucco with matching stone end chimneys. Only slightly altered over the years, the house bears notable similarity to other mid-eighteenth-century

houses in the valley. A separate kitchen, constructed south of the house with

a large stone end chimney, is now connected. The associated farm complex, composed primarily of early- to late-twentieth-century structures, includes a

crib, a stone springhouse, a granary, a bank barn, a gambrel-roofed barn and

silo, and a machine shed.


Edgehill, located in the northern part of the historic district on Route 50,

is noteworthy as one of the district's only late-eighteenth-century stone

dwellings. Constructed around 1790, it is a one-and-a-half-story, three-

bay-wide stone dwelling with an exterior chimney on the east end. The

entrance to the house, recessed and located off-center, consists of double-

leaf, two-panel doors and a handsome architrave surround.


Three other dwellings in the valley are notable as examples of Colonial

Period houses that have been encompassed within later dwellings. A one-

and-a-half-story, two-bay log dwelling constructed around 1758 by settler

John Grigsby, makes up the southernmost section of Mount Independence,

located on the west side of Route 17 about a half mile north of Route 724 (Pleasant Vale Road). Though surrounded by a late-twentiethcentury struc-

ture, some of the original logs of the earlier structure are still visible on the

interior of the house. This is a rare surviving example of the temporary type dwellings first put up by early settlers in the valley.


A dwelling was also located at the property known as Highfield or Hillan-

dale, located on the west side of Route 17 just south of its intersection with

Route 688 (Leeds Manor Road), during the Colonial Period. The present

dwelling, completed in 181 5, is believed to encompass the log dwelling

noted on lot 2 ofthe division of James Ball's grant, which was devised to

Sinah Ball and her husband, Daniel McCarty. Surveyors in 1759 noted a

"new building" on the lot near the location of the present house.


Another Colonial Period dwelling in the Crooked Run Valley is that of

John Ashby, captain in the 3rd VirginiaRegiment of the Continental Army. Ashby's home was located on lot 5 ofthe Ball grant division. In 1759, John Williams was noted as living at this site; Ashby moved there in 1770. The

original one-and-a-half-story log house has been modified by raising the

roof, but its form can still be detected within the larger structure and the

stone end chimneys are still extant. The house, formerly known as Belmont

and now known as Greenland, was much enlarged in the late nineteenth

century with the original building, clad with weatherboard, comprising the

rear. A large, stone slave quarters and domestic outbuildings including a

kitchen and ice-house are still extant on the property. Marshall Ashby's

house and blacksmith shop, constructed in the early nineteenth century,

are located near Pleasant Vale Road at the entrance to Greenland.


The period of the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the first half of

the nineteenth centurywas a time of great change in the county that saw in-

creases in political stability and the agriculturally based economic prosperity. Indian hostilities had ceased in the region around 1763, after the end of the

French and Indian War. As early as 1752, the maintenance and clearing of

county roadways had been the responsibility, as assigned by the county, of

local inhabitants or settlers along the routes of the roads. This included the

route of the Shenandoah Road, later known as the Dumfries-Winchester

Road (Route 17), which connected the Shenandoah Valley and merchants

in the Tidewater regions. Throughout the last half of the eighteenth century,

the population in the northwest part of Fauquier County, which was formed

in 1759, remained sparse as compared with the lower regions of the county

(a total of 1,690 tithables in 1760 or approximately 6,500 people). With

well tended transportation routes, the population in the region increased

and in the county as a whole climbed to near 18,000 by 1790.


Another important change in the development of the Crooked Run Valley

was the division of the large land grants that had formerly been held by ab-

sentee landowners. As these landowners died, their holdings were divided,

and often the second generation of absentee landowners were not interested

in retaining ownership of the land. Thus, relatively smaller tracts finally

were available for local settlers to purchase. Some settlers who had estab-

lished homesteads, as squatters, on these large land grants were "unseated,"

that is, the tract on which they were living was sold to another who wished

to occupy the land and the settlers were forced to relocate. Often the dwell-

ings they had constructed were simply reoccupied by the new owner.



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