The historic town of Hamilton is situated in the valley of western Loudoun County between the Catoctin Ridge and the Blue Ridge Mountains, 8 miles west of the County seat of Leesburg, 40 miles west of Washington, D.C. Hamilton is bisected by business Route 7, currently and historically one of two major east-west roads through western Loudoun. Hamilton once was the largest of the western Loudoun towns. During the last several decades, it has instead evolved into a predominantly residential community, so far refraining from the substantial development that has occurred adjacent to it and throughout eastern portions of the County.
The population of Hamilton inside the town limits, as of 2009, reached 797, up from 562 in 2000. 60% of these are single-family, detached homes, with the rest as townhomes, multi-family housing, and mobile homes. In Town, 5% of residences were constructed by 1900, 14% between 1900-1959, more than 40% between 1960-1979, with the remaining 40% since 1980. Over 90% of the single-family homes in the JLMA were built during 1960-1999.
The Hamilton Town Council governs the incorporated town, while the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors governs the surrounding areas, called “Joint Land Management Areas” (“JLMA”), because they have a direct and immediate effect on the town itself. As pointed out in the Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Hamilton, adopted jointly by the Town and the County in the spring of 2003, projections and plans for the town’s growth also included the surrounding land management area around the town limits. From the input of the local community as the Comprehensive Plan evolved, the message from local residents was clear: growth in Hamilton needs to occur without taxing the existing character and resources of this community.
John Unger, Vice Mayor and an elected member of Hamilton’s Town Council, has lived in this community with his family for over thirty years. He remembers what drew him to Hamilton. “When my family and I moved here, Hamilton was similar to how it appears today—a pretty, quiet town with friendly neighbors, and an excellent elementary school. One important difference was the Route 7 bypass had not yet been built, and all the traffic, including 18-wheelers, went right in front of our house!” Unger concurs with community sentiment to plan growth carefully, and has been elected to the Council seven times since filling a vacant Council seat in 1983. He added, “I felt then, and still feel, that I need to do my best to keep Hamilton as close to that wonderful town we first glimpsed 34 years ago, despite the external pressures from the surrounding developments.”
Hamilton is a town steeped in history, originally populated by a variety of native tribes. European settlers arrived in the late 1730s. Many descendants of families who settled in these early days remain. Local homeowners work hard to restore the older homes in the community. Donna Norton and her (now deceased) husband Jim spent a full year full year restoring their home, “Janney Hill,” now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.”
In its early years, the community was commonly known as Harmony. In 1831, when the turnpike connecting Leesburg to Snickersville (now Bluemont) opened, trade and growth increased. As early as 1826, the community was also known as Hamilton’s Store, named after Charles Bennett Hamilton, the store’s owner and its first postmaster. In 1835, John Quincy Adams approved a post office in the store, recording its name as “Hamilton.” By 1868, the steam railroad brought tourists from the nation’s capital to enjoy Hamilton’s fresh air and mile and a half boardwalk. Hamilton became incorporated in 1875.
By 1900, business was booming, and Hamilton was Loudoun’s second largest town. Then, the automobile entered the picture, train traffic slowed, and so did tourism. To make matters worse, in 1926, a devastating fire swept through the heart of downtown, destroying many of the town’s central businesses, as well as some of the residences. The commercial aspect of Hamilton never recovered. Since that time, Hamilton has been more a residential community. Town planners are working to draw in viable, small businesses that will help revitalize the core community area.
Hamilton residents find many ways to celebrate as a community. “Hamilton Day” happens every spring with a parade through the center of town, followed by barbecues, park festivities, home tours, and children’s activities. Local civic groups create events and special occasions for the community. In 1945, Hamilton Mayor F. Y. Sykes Taylor began the tradition of presenting a sleek, hand-turned, silver-tipped cane to Hamilton’s oldest male resident. The current holder of the cane is Mr. Eugene Wiley Simpson (b. April 2, 1921). Mr. Simpson received the honor from then Mayor Keith Reasoner during Hamilton Day celebrations on June 1, 2002. The Town sponsors the annual Christmas Eve Luminaries, with help from the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squads, and local residents.
Hamilton’s properties are lined with mature trees, contributing to the beauty of the town, and residents value the community’s parks. Behind Hamilton’s post office lies an acre park called Hamilton Community Park, the vision of former Mayor, Ruth Tillett, Hamiltonians also enjoy the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park that sports tennis and basketballs courts, as well as hiking and biking opportunities. Additionally, Franklin Park, a regional County park between nearby Purcellville and Round Hill, serves Hamilton residents for concerts, theatre and special community events.
Hamilton Elementary School is contiguous to the Town and serves elementary students who live within the town; average class size is about 20 students. The school is a cornerstone for town activities and civic group meetings. Middle School children within town limits attend Blue Ridge Middle School; high school students within town attend Loudoun Valley High School.
Sue Phillips is owner of Natural Mercantile (341 E. Colonial Highway) and a parent. “My husband and I came to Hamilton 25 years ago. We wanted to raise our kids in a small town with an excellent school system, and that’s what we got by being part of this community. I’ve owned Natural Mercantile for the past 5 years, and feel blessed to be a part of it—we’re celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2010.” Natural Mercantile carries all things organic, from fresh produce, groceries and wine to vitamins and specialty items. Also, visit Mosby’s (55 E. Colonial Highway) or Lowry’s Crab Shack (420 W. Colonial Highway).
As Hamilton grows, it seems to draw on its original name, Harmony, as its close-knit citizens seek to create a balanced community, mixing different ages, economic levels, and interests, living as much as possible in harmony with their rural surroundings, rich history, and the ever-growing world around them.
Between 2009 and 2014, the population in this area is projected to increase about 14.53%. In comparison, Loudoun County population is expected to grow 23.5%. The population of Virginia is projected to increase 5.5%.
Between 2009 and 2014, the White population is expected to grow by 14%, the African American population by 31%, the Asian population by 56% and Hispanic population by 67%.
|Race/Ethnicity||% of population||% of population (VA)|
The median household income for this area is $81,793, compared to a state median of $60,690, as estimated for 2009.
|Income Category||% of households||% of households (VA)|
|Less than $25,000||7.42%||17.87%|
|Less than $50,000||25.8%||40.94%|
|Less than $75,000||45.58%||60.5%|
|Less than $150,000||85.51%||88.89%|
|More than $150,000||14.49%||11.11%|
|Type of unit||% of units||% of units (VA)|
|Single family - detached||69.42%||62.6%|
|Single family - attached||19.24%||9.96%|