Established as a town in 1758, historic Leesburg, Virginia is located 33 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., along the base of the Catoctin Mountain of the Blue Ridge, and adjacent to the Potomac River. The county seat of Loudoun County, it is the northwest terminus of the Dulles Greenway, connecting to Washington Dulles International Airport. At its heart lies the charming downtown district, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, cited as one of the best-preserved and most picturesque downtowns in Virginia. Eclectic shops, fine restaurants, and award-winning businesses, set in well-maintained traditional architecture, draw residents and visitors from all over the world. Covering 12.5 square miles, the residential and commercial mix surrounding historic downtown is filled with distinctive neighborhoods, safe streets, libraries, churches, landmarks, and public parks and trails.
Leesburg’s ideal location between the tranquility of western Loudoun’s rural horse and wine country and the nation’s center of power make it an appealing hometown for an increasingly diverse population in the 21st century. During the past thirty years, Leesburg, like the rest of Loudoun, has undergone considerable growth. In 1980, it was still a small, primarily rural town of just over 8,000 people. The 2010 estimate of Leesburg’s population shows 38,764 residents.
As it has done throughout its history, Leesburg today serves as the center of government and commerce for Loudoun County, with more than 1,500 businesses and over 20,000 employees located in Leesburg. In addition to its proximity to Dulles International Airport, Leesburg operates the Leesburg Executive Airport at Godfrey Field, serving Loudoun with private and corporate aircraft operations. As a designated reliever airport for Dulles International, the Leesburg Executive Airport is the second busiest General Aviation airport in the region. The Federal Aviation Administration’s Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center is located in Leesburg. One of the largest, most comprehensive conference centers in the nation, The National Conference Center (formally the Xerox Training Center) is located on 110 scenic acres near Leesburg, accommodating corporate, government, military, and religious meetings and special events for Loudoun County and the Washington D.C. area.
Market Station, located just south and east of Leesburg’s Historic District, is a cluster of seven restored historic buildings, some reconstructed in or relocated to the site: a railroad freight station, a railroad stationmaster’s house, a log house, two barns and two gristmills. Market Station is now filled with restaurants, retail shops, high-tech and legal offices, including Visit Loudoun, the visitors’ center. A plaza on the east side of the site marks the old Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, which served the town until 1968. During the heyday of the railroad, this area was a bustling inland wharf, farm wagons loading up for blocks to load their goods. The 45-mile long right-of-way from the old W & OD railroad is now part of Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority’s trail system, attracting hikers, bikers, and joggers to and through Leesburg.
The Town of Leesburg is taking proactive steps to provide quality programs, parks, and facilities in the face of its rapid growth and diminishment of open spaces. Leesburg Town Manager, John Wells, said, “Leesburg provides a well-balanced inventory of services with the goal of improving the quality of life for all of our residents at a reasonable cost.” Of the 16 parks that are part of the Leesburg Parks and Recreation Department, the crown jewel is Ida Lee Park, a gift in 1986 of 141 acres from William F. and Margaret Dole Rust in memory of Mr. Rust’s grandmother, Ida Lee, to preserve the historic link of the Lee family of Virginia and the Town of Leesburg. The Rusts donated three acres from the original 141 for the Rust Library, adjacent to the Park. Additionally, in 1991, the Rusts gave enough to construct, also at Ida Lee, the William J. Cox Pavilion, a public picnic area containing a pavilion and playground. In 2009, the Town of Leesburg opened a new outdoor water park, the A.V. Symington Aquatic Center, at Ida Lee Park. Construction of the water park was made possible by the generous $5 million bequest from Ms. A. V. Symington, a local resident who swam regularly at Ida Lee’s indoor pool. Residents and visitors flock to Ida Lee Park for 4th of July celebrations every year. The Town of Leesburg also owns and operates the Thomas Balch Library, a history and genealogy library focused on Loudoun County, regional and Virginia history, with emphasis on the Civil War.
Eugene Scheel, local historian and mapmaker, writes how Leesburg began at a crossroads. Before Europeans arrived, Native Americans used what is now Route 15 as a major route of travel. By the 1730s, this road, known as the Old Carolina Road, intersected Potomac Ridge road, now present day Route 7. At this intersection, somewhere before 1755, Nicholas Minor established a tavern, and a few buildings sprouted up around it. Minor called the “sparse” village “George Town,” after England’s reigning king. Fortunes changed when the British Colonial Council ordered a County courthouse to be established at these crossroads. Minor laid out a town plan, and in 1758, the Virginia General Assembly founded the new town, renamed “Leesburg,” to honor the illustrious Thomas Lee.
The historic Loudoun County courthouse, located in downtown Leesburg, has known three incarnations at the same location, the original having been built in 1761. The first reading of the Declaration of Independence anywhere in Virginia took place on the steps of the Loudoun County courthouse during August Court Days of 1776. In 1811, a second building replaced the first; a third structure replaced the 2nd in 1895, and stands to this day.
Leesburg’s post office was established in 1803. During the War of 1812, Leesburg was a temporary haven for the U.S. Government archives, including the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and portraits of early American leaders. During the Civil War, Leesburg was the site for the Battle of Balls Bluff, a resounding Confederate victory. Because the town was so close to the boundary of Union territory, armies from both sides traversed the area, and the town frequently changed hands, facing the hard challenges of that time. Leesburg served as the base of operations for Col. John S. Mosby and his Raiders, for whom the Loudoun County High School mascot is named.
General George C. Marshall, the diplomat and author of the Marshall Plan that launched the re-building of war-torn Europe, purchased Dodona Manor, a restored 19th century home on Edwards Ferry Road, three blocks from the center of downtown, in 1941 and lived in Leesburg until his death in 1959. Shortly after purchasing the house, Marshall told his wife, “This is a home, a real home, after 41 years of wandering.” For three centuries, thousands of Leesburg residents have felt, and continue to feel, the same way. There’s no place like home when it’s Leesburg.
Between 2009 and 2014, the population in this area is projected to increase about 17%. 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 7.5%, the African American population by 25%, the Asian population by 59% and Hispanic population by 54%.
|Race/Ethnicity||% of population||% of population (VA)|
The median household income for this area is $91,262, compared to a state median of $60,690, as estimated for 2009.
|Income Category||% of households||% of households (VA)|
|Less than $25,000||7.17%||17.87%|
|Less than $50,000||20.73%||40.94%|
|Less than $75,000||37.4%||60.5%|
|Less than $150,000||80.32%||88.89%|
|More than $150,000||19.68%||11.11%|
|Type of unit||% of units||% of units (VA)|
|Single family - detached||43.6%||62.6%|
|Single family - attached||29.26%||9.96%|