Historic Hillsboro, Virginia lies in the Gap of the Short Hill Mountain, for which it was once named, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northern Virginia. Historic Charles Town Pike, (Virginia Route 9) cuts right through the heart of town, flanked by 40 or so homes dating back to the late 1700’s. Hillsboro is the smallest incorporated town in Loudoun County, and lies about 55 miles northwest of the Nation’s Capital, 10 miles southeast of Harpers Ferry, WV. There were 96 residents in the 2000 Census, and that number is expected to remain about the same in the 2010 count. In geographic size, it is the 2nd smallest town in Virginia, and the 4th smallest in population. Like the handsome stone homes that comprise this jewel of a town, the Hillsboro community stands strong, actively and vitally involved with quality of life and preservation of history.
Residents, retailers and professionals with home offices respect their existing structures, blending new ways of working into the care and maintenance of older buildings. In the center of town, Claire and Ed Cutshall, who for the past 20 years have run Hunt Country Jewelers (36955 Charles Town Pike), creating custom-made jewelry and metal designs in what was once the town’s old post office. Near the west end of town is a general store, in business since the late ‘30s, called Hill Tom Market (36933 Charles Town Pike). The store is named for a colorful character who lived off the land doing odd jobs, loving the Short Hill slopes for his hunting.
On the east end of town, across from the historic Hillsboro Old Stone School is the 45-acre certified organic Stoneybrook Farm (37091 Charles Town Pike). The distinctive post and beam Stoneybrook Farm Market sells organic produce, honeys, soaps, and jellies, and wholesales to a number of produce markets in the Greater Washington DC area, working to preserve sustainable farmland for agriculture, and protect the historical heritage of Northern Virginia. Notable wineries are growing in the area as well, among them Hillsborough Vineyards, Doukenie Winery, and Breaux Vineyards, part of the destination charm of this community.
Walking through downtown Hillsboro today, you cannot escape a sense of history. When the early settlers arrived in the mid 1700s, it was known as “The Gap,” for the gap in the Short Hill behind them. In 1802, the postmaster elevated the name to “Hillsborough,” meaning shelter in the hill. In 1802, the town incorporated. By 1893, the U.S. Postal Service dropped the last three letters, and the name “Hillsboro” stuck. For the first half of the 19th century, as a bustling seat of commerce, thriving mills produced goods going in two directions, leading to train routes: the drovers to Alexandria, Virginia, and the canal boats at Harper’s Ferry.
In the present, the hub of this community is the Old Stone School, a stone structure built in 1874, with additional wings added in 1917. It served generations of Hillsboro area students as the central schoolhouse until the fall of 1966, when Hillsboro Elementary, the round brick school, opened next door. By 1976, the dormant Old Stone School was marked for demolition. Many Hillsboro residents who had attended or taught school there resisted the dire fate of their beloved alma mater. Belle Ware, a Hillsboro resident since 1945, and a former student at the school, became one of the school’s ringleading friends. “I went to 4th grade there. So many of us love that school. We couldn’t let it go down.” Rallying neighbors, a group of concerned residents formed the Hillsboro Community Association (“HCA”) with a sole purpose: to save Old Stone School from destruction. The HCA jumped into action, keeping the bulldozers at bay. Due to the active voices of the Community Association, the County of Loudoun agreed to lease the building to the Association in exchange for restoration and maintenance of the inside of the school. In December 2006, the County gave Old Stone School to the town of Hillsboro, and the HCA continues to restore and maintain care for the school.
That takes time and money, a problem that seems to inspire this community.
Hillsboro residents buckled down with creative fundraising. Belle’s son, Mark Ware, followed his father’s footsteps as President of the HCA. (Belle’s mother, Evelyn V.Turbeville, served as Mayor, Virginia’s first female, from 1947-1955.) Not even a fire in May 2008, causing significant damage to the school’s restoration, could dampen the spirits of this cause. Today, festivals, concerts, dances, theatrical productions, and other community celebrations and events are regularly celebrated in the halls and on the grounds of Old Stone School. By giving new life to Old Stone School, Hillsboro residents have brought fresh life to their community.
It is costly to maintain an old stone building. Yet in Hillsboro, fundraising becomes fun-raising. For Halloween, drama students from Loudoun Valley High school work with the HCA to create a Haunted House for younger children. An Annual Christmas Craft Fair offers finely crafted gifts, made by local artisans. Every other year, historic Hillsboro homes, festively bedecked, highlight the popular “Christmas in Hillsboro Home Tour.” The Old Stone School’s auditorium fills to capacity as local talent performs plays like Once Upon A Christmas Carol, an original musical adaptation of the Christmas classic. To celebrate Independence Day, hundreds gather on the school grounds for fun activities and picnics, followed by a fireworks display. Celebrations often include participation from local businesses, vineyards, and organic farms, so everyone across the community has a chance to get involved.
Mark Ware knows you don’t just run into a town like this every day. “I grew up here, went to school here. But then I moved away. When we had kids, I wanted to come back. Yes, it’s small. When everyone knows your child, that’s a beautiful thing for a parent!” Middle School students attend Harmony Middle just outside of Hamilton; High School Students attend Woodgrove High just outside of Purcellville. Depending on the boundary lines, other students in the Hillsboro area attend Blue Ridge Middle and Loudoun Valley High School.
Loudoun County recently recognized the Old Stone School with a Legends Award, as a building with design excellence lasting over 25 years, standing the test of time and becoming an icon in collective memory. Mayor Roger Vance understands the significance of Old Stone School for his community. He said, “We are stewards; we won’t be here forever. When the HCA was formed, the preservation movement wasn’t in vogue. We can be thankful for the visionary foresight of those early friends of Old Stone School not to tear it down.”
Another long-term resident, former student, and teacher at Old Stone School, Dot Shetterly, talked about her community. “Everybody knows everybody; everyone pulls together. Old Stone School is the diamond in the tiara.” The town of Hillsboro may have begun as a “Gap in the Short Hill” but there is no gap in the pride and committed spirit that runs through this community like a clear river, generation after generation.
Between 2009 and 2014, the population in this area is projected to increase about 20%. 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 20%, the African American population by 29%, the Asian population by (n/a) and Hispanic population by (n/a).
|Race/Ethnicity||% of population||% of population (VA)|
The median household income for this area is $75,000, compared to a state median of $60,690, as estimated for 2009.
|Income Category||% of households||% of households (VA)|
|Less than $25,000||16.67%||17.87%|
|Less than $50,000||28.33%||40.94%|
|Less than $75,000||50%||60.5%%|
|Less than $150,000||73.33%||88.89%|
|More than $150,000||26.67%||11.11%|
|Type of unit||% of units||% of units (VA)|
|Single family - detached||100%||62.6%|
|Single family - attached||0%||9.96%|