- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Since its founding in 1758, Leesburg in Loudoun County, at 12 square miles, has had a much larger impact than most other towns its size.

Originally called George Town in honor of the reigning monarch of Great Britain, Leesburg was renamed to honor the influential Lee family of Virginia, according to a history of Leesburg published on the town’s official Web site, www.leesburgva.com.

Leesburg today connects the past and present with ease, functioning as both a historic district with a reverence for the region’s importance during Colonial and Civil War days and as the seat of the nation’s fastest-growing county.

Located 35 miles northwest of Washington in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Leesburg functioned as the temporary capital of the United States during the War of 1812, the www.leesburgva.com history reports. When Washington was under attack, the most important papers of the National Archives, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, were brought to the town for safekeeping, the www.leesburg.com Web site history reports.

During the Civil War, Leesburg’s location near the border of the Union and the Confederacy meant the area was the scene of constant turmoil, the www.leesburgva.com town history says. The largest Civil War battle in Loudoun County, the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, took place near Leesburg and was a major Confederate victory, the www.leesburgva.com town history reports. A portion of the Ball’s Bluff battlefield has been preserved as a public park, most of it now wooded, according to the www.leesburgva.com Web site history.

The National Register of Historic Places named Leesburg’s Historic District to the register in 1970, the www.leesburg.com Web site town history says, citing the community as one of the best-preserved and most picturesque downtowns in Virginia.

In addition to historic architecture, downtown Leesburg includes specialty shops with home furnishings, artwork, jewelry, gifts and antiques, plus a variety of restaurants. The Loudoun Museum’s exhibits provide a complete historical perspective on the area.

Other attractions in Leesburg include local vineyards and the Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, which has 71,000 square feet of aquatics, fitness and recreation equipment.

Cultural events continue year-round, including the First Friday series of the Loudoun Arts Council, outdoor concerts in the summer and steeplechase races at Morven Park. Local vineyards draw wine connoisseurs and amateur tasters alike.

The largest employers in Leesburg include Loudoun County Public Schools, the Loudoun County government and the town of Leesburg government, followed by retail stores such as Giant Food and Home Depot. On the outskirts of Loudoun County are the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets, an upscale collection of outlet stores.

Just like surrounding Loudoun County, the town of Leesburg is experiencing rapid growth.

From 1990 to 2001, Leesburg grew from 16,000 to 32,000 residents. The current population estimate, according to the U.S. Census and the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development, is 34,800 residents, projected to rise to 45,000 by 2010, according to the town history published at the www.leesburgva.com Web site.

Upscale golf-course communities are among the most popular housing options in the Leesburg area, including Raspberry Falls, where Marquis Custom Homes is building estate properties on 1-acre sites, priced from the upper $800,000s.

Raspberry Falls’ homes surround a Gary Player Signature golf course, and the community includes a Southern-mansion-inspired clubhouse with a pool and bathhouse, a grill restaurant and a pro shop. Nearby is White’s Ferry, the last operating ferry on the Potomac River, which has been carrying vehicles and passengers on a five-minute ride across the river since 1828.

Next to the Potomac River just south of Leesburg is River Creek, a guarded, gated community on the banks of the Potomac River and Goose Creek, with 70-foot-high bluffs and an Ault Clark and Associates-designed golf course winding through the development.

The luxury homes within River Creek have views of the 18-hole golf course, the woods, lakes and the river.

The 30,000-square-foot main clubhouse at River Creek features formal dining rooms and dining balconies and decks with panoramic views of the Potomac, perfect for parties and intimate dinners.

The Swim and Tennis Club at River Creek includes a pro shop, exercise facility and traditional grill room with a fireplace, plus a swimming pool, children’s wading pools and lighted tennis courts. A concierge service brings the community together for planned activities.

Luxury town homes priced from the upper $700,000s to more than $1,000,000 are available from Michael Harris Development Inc., NVHomes and WCI Renaissance Housing Corp. Single-family homes priced from the $900,000s are available from Mitchell & Best Homebuilders.

West of Leesburg, only a handful of homes are still available for sale at Beacon Hill, an equestrian community of estate homes on large sites, with some overlooking the golf course. Single-family homes from M/I Homes, Schulz Homes Corp. and WCI are priced from the upper $900,000s to more than $2,000,000.

Just east of Leesburg, two golf-course communities flank state Route 7. To the north of Route 7 is Lansdowne on the Potomac, next to Lansdowne Resort and bordering Goose Creek and the Potomac.

Later in 2005, construction will begin on Lansdowne Town Center, a community with restaurants, cafes, retail, and commercial and residential units.

A second golf course is anticipated to open this summer to complement the recreational amenities of Lansdowne’s Potomac Club, Lansdowne Resort and the National Conference Center, which provide indoor and outdoor swimming pools, fitness centers, club and conference rooms.

Prices range from the $600,000s to the $800,000s for town homes to more than $1,000,000 for single-family homes. Builders at Lansdowne include Beazer Homes, Brookfield Homes, Centex Homes, Van Metre Homes, Basheer & Edgemoore and NVHomes.

Across Route 7, Toll Bros. is developing the private gated community of Belmont Country Club, which features an 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature golf course and 2,157 homesites. In addition to the course, a focal point for the development is the Belmont Clubhouse, built adjacent to the renovated circa-1799 Manor House on the property.

The nearly 31,000-square-foot addition to the Manor House includes rooftop and private dining, a full-service business center, and concierge services.

A separate full-service recreation center has also been built to provide indoor aerobic and fitness facilities, along with swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, and a volleyball pit.

Toll Bros. offers a variety of homes in separate villages around the golf course, priced from the high $300,000s for town homes and from the $600,000s to more than $1,000,000 for single-family homes. Condominiums are priced from the high $200,000s.

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