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Annual Virginia Preservation Conference to be held in Leesburg next month

Historic preservation enthusiasts will converge on Leesburg Sept. 23-25 for the 27th annual Virginia Preservation Conference.

The two-day event, featuring sessions, workshops and field sessions on a variety of preservation-related issues is the first for Leesburg, according to Betsy Edwards, director of development for Preservation Virginia, a nonprofit group dedicated to perpetrating and revitalizing the state’s cultural, architectural and historic heritage.

The conference is expected to draw 150 to 200 preservationists, architects, city planners, developers, local government officials, historic property owners, historic nonprofit staff and members to Leesburg.
“Leesburg doesn’t typically get these conferences. There’s no really comfort space per-say, so I don’t think people think of going to Leesburg to do this,” Edwards said.

However, Loudoun County and Leesburg in particular, is known for its historic sites, which will be incorporated into the conference, she said.

The $179 conference fee includes registration for all sessions, walking tours of Leesburg, a reception at Lightfoot Restaurant, attendance to the annual Preservation Awards reception at Oatlands Plantation, conference materials and access to the conference bookstore.

The conference will be held throughout historic buildings in downtown Leesburg, including the Fellowship Hall at St. James Episcopal Church.

The workshops will include “How to Care for Historic Cemeteries,” training for architectural review board members and how to preserve a historic site in your area.

Preservation Virginia has been a nonprofit since 1889. The group has played a vital role in preserving such historic sites as the original Jamestown settlement, the Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach and the John Marshall House in downtown Richmond.

Each year the group puts out a list of the top 10 endangered historic sites in hopes that communities will rally to save them.

“The focus of that is to draw awareness to those sites that we know are really at risk that will illicit a response locally …. that will preserve the site,” Edwards said.

The conference is important to remind those working toward preservation of what they’re saving, Edwards said.

“I think historic preservation connects people in a very tangible way to the past … Once those are gone, you can certainty rebuild them, but it’s not the same thing. Everybody has got a memory of some place that’s historic,” she said.

“… There’s something about historic structures that … moves us. So it’s important to hold on to them.”


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