Willisville Chapel

Willisville Chapel in the Willisville Historic District.  

 

The Willisville Historic District in Loudoun County is one of 16 areas across the commonwealth set to receive a historical marker that recalls people, places or events from Virginia’s colonial era to the 1960s, according to the Department of Historic Resources (DHR).

The marker in Willisville is one of four markers approved recently that depicts the lives of African Americans during Reconstruction and the era of Jim Crow segregation.

Willisville, which stretches along the unpaved Welbourne Road, includes 11 historically contributing vernacular dwellings, some constructed of log and stone during the late 19th century by freedmen with 20th century additions erected as fortunes and families grew, according to historical records.

Willisville was established in the late 1860s around a small group of dwellings where free and enslaved people had lived before the Civil War, the release states.

In 1868, community residents erected a building to serve as a school and church with the support of the Freedmen’s Bureau, according to historical records. Land ownership anchored residents to the community as they purchased lots during the 1870s.

Approximately 30 African American communities existed there throughout the 1800s. Some descendants still retain ownership of the lots.

On March 18, the Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved the marker texts during a public, quarterly meeting hosted virtually by DHR.

In Dec. 2019, the Willisville Historic District was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The village was also listed under the Virginia Landmarks Register in September.

As part of the register, Willisville receives preservation benefits and incentives from the National Park Service.

The village includes a chapel (circa 1924), store (circa 1922-1924) and a schoolhouse (circa 1921, enlarged in 1934), as well as two cemeteries and two barns.

By the early 20th century, villagers worked as farm laborers, gardeners, butlers and chauffeurs, serving the white owners of prosperous farmsteads within walking distance of Willisville.

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