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Broad Run Tollhouse: The return to relevance

photoChief Parks Planner Mark Novack, left, speaks with members of the Loudoun County Heritage Commission on the Broad Run Tollhouse property on Nov. 16. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Matt Vecchio

The Broad Run Tollhouse was once a major transportation boon for Loudoun County during its rise to prominence. And now,  it’s making a comeback.

On a small dirt road right off of Route 7, near the Route 28 exit, the remnants of the worn-down tollhouse are a far cry from its former glory, nestled in a heavily-wooded lot.
In July, the county Board of Supervisors decided to purchase the property for $230,000, Chief Parks Planner Mark Novak said.

The property had been purchased by a private owner in 2002, but foreclosed on in 2007.

Construction will start as part of the development of the Kincora project.

“The object is not to restore the building and property, but to return it to what it really was a century ago,” Novak said.

This is the vision that the Loudoun County Development Commission is going for – a place for Loudoun families to venture out for a picnic and spend time exploring one of Loudoun’s more interesting historical locations.

County officials are hoping the more than 200-year-old property can serve as an educational trailhead for hikers along the planned Broad Run Trail and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail near the soon to be developed Kincora property.

Among those advocating the tollhouse’s return to relevancy are members of the Loudoun County Heritage Commission, who shuttled out to take a tour of the grounds with Novak on Nov. 16.

The tollhouse and accompanying stone bridge were built in 1820, a result of 1809 legislation from the Virginia General Assembly that created the Leesburg Turnpike Co. The company was tasked with building a toll road from Leesburg to the Little River Turnpike in Alexandria.

At the tollhouse, travelers stopped to pay a fee to continue traveling on the turnpike. It was abandoned during the Civil War, but still saw use for several ensuing decades. According to Loudoun historian Eugene Scheel, passersby could also obtain illegal liquor there during prohibition.

The structure was one of the first properties in Virginia to be listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1970. The bridge that accompanied the tollhouse was taken out from flood waters in 1972, leaving ruins.

Lori Kimball, president of the Loudoun Preservation Society, said in July that a trailhead is probably the best use of the property, given its location.

“It’s in a tough location so it would be difficult to be used for some other purposes,” she said.

The tollhouse could easily serve as an educational center to visitors about the history of transportation in the area.

Novak said Loudoun residents can expect a time frame of two to three years for the project once work is underway next year.

Crystal Owens contributed to this report.


Abraham, that is actually a good idea.  As a preservationist, if we are to make these architectural and cultural artifact economically and culturally viable, they need to be rehabilitated—not destroyed.  Besides, we could use some good restaurants in NOVA.

Turn it into a restaurant.

Thanks for that Jimmy! My thought is that we should exact, ahem, greater tolls on developers before they send this County down a road that threatens our historic identity, quality of life and ultimate ruin.

As a point of clarification - missed in the article - the funds used to purchase this property came from development proffers, not tax dollars.

Laugh! Guy—I’m there!  Watch out the neo-cons though, here in VA; they like the loose canon on deck, Gingrich.  Idiots like that make them feel intellectual.  God, save the Commonwealth!

TEAR IT DOWN IS A TROGLODYTE…oops, I’m shouting.  This person has no clue as to the economic and cultural necessity of maintaining a sense of “place.”  Fortunately, there are a few wiser newly elected to the BOS that have some sense of this interest.  It may come down to east vs. west yet again—even among a conservative board.  If these clowns—they are clowns until proven otherwise—start taking extremist policy actions they will rue the day come the next election.  In the interim we are perfectly ready to occupy and create a spectacle at their BOS meetings.

Eric, thank you for your community service.  I am proud of the historic and cultural identity of Loudoun County.  It’s an ongoing battle defending the benefits of preservation in terms of tourism, quality of life and jobs. Fortunately growth has been slowed significantly by current economic condition.  I just hope the republican BOS is able to draft a clear vision for Loudoun that includes cultural preservation as an arrow in the quiver.

After almost 40 years something is going to be done.
I think people are missing the point inorder for Loudoun County, or any area to maintain a higher standard of living we must have a balance of quality of life issues and the core functions of government,I am not in Loudoun any more my roots run deep, and I was active in the Preservation of Loudoun County for many years with my grandfather, John Tolbert,jr, and B. Powell Harrison.

Speaking in generalities, it’s going to take public private partnerships in this County to stimulate economic development.  I just hope it isn’t based on the pure blitzkrieg growth approach of the past.  The new BOS is going to have to lead and that may mean spending some money to do it—they have no choice.  If they play their cards right we just might have an opportunity for real responsible, progressive vision for Loudoun…....naaaah!

I am interested to see a story on the new Supervisors Government Reform panel- I want the Loudoun TImes take on it!
As for this toll house - it might be nice, but it is too bad if the Govt is footing the bill, as it helps Kincora development.

Laugh is bored by intellectual considerations—too bad.  Go play with your stone tools and shiny objects.

Interesting comments.  I recall in 2001 the Taliban dynamiting the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan.  Destroy a peoples cultural artifacts and you can re-write history as tyrants would have it—beware of small minds.

At least one can say that LeeJ and Barbara Munsey are irrelevant.  Next topic, please.

The 1809 Virginia General Assembly legislation the article speaks of occurred during the Jefferson Administration. BTW: Thomas Jefferson’s Treasury secretary, Albert Gallatin in 1808 recommended that the federal government subsidize national road improvements. As Loudoun County’s boom years—before the Civil War—were getting underway it is interesting that transportation was on the minds of past policymakers.  It is essential that we have touchstones like this one that connect us to our past and remind us of how history rhymes.

Tear It Down et al.:  Fortunately, historic preservation transcends political partisanship.  For many of Virginians, libs and cons alike, what remains of our historic culture is economically essential.  It educates our children. It provides jobs for preservationists, historians, and contractors.  It contributes to the cultural identity of this County—your community.  If you don’t value Loudoun County’s historic development in terms of trade and culture then you don’t value America’s past and our role in that history.  Pretty noble values in the County’s action—money well spent!

My car could use some brakes, too.  Good ones help stop the car.

Great use of MY tax dollars… Give me a brake?  It’s not like it’s in a scenic location.  The reporter fails to ask the tough questions, like what are the annual operating costs to run this sure be be unprofitable venture.  Agree with @Tear It DOWN, this is not the core function of Gov’t

If you want to tear down a tollhouse, tear down the one on the Dulles Greenway.

Tear it DOWN…the bulk of this activity is the result of a proffer from the Kincora project.  Hope you won’t be disillusioned to hear that your conservative friends love doing things with developers.  Maybe you should stop SHOUTING AND START LISTENING and much of the world will start making more sense.

Go ahead and complain all you want, we won every office, and we will demand that our newly elected candidates toe the line.  This is a waste of money.  LOWER MY TAXES AND STOP SPENDING ON FEELGOOD GARBAGE LIKE THIS.

Dear Mark Novak:
Please tell us where the $230,000 came from. What will the costs be to restore the toll house and where will that money come from

Tear it DOWN, I sincerely hope when you hold your next T(roglodyte) Party rally, a meteor hits.

good call, let’s forget our history.  Next up, burn the Constitution

What does this have to do with the core functions of government?  Tear this eyesore down and save the money.  We voted for conservative leadership in this county, enough of this feel good liberal preservationist nonsense.

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