– By Andrea Gaines
There are more than one million of them in the United States; the historic districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that make up what is known as The National Register of Historic Places.
80,000 of these properties – just 8 percent – are listed on an individual basis; places so rare that they are singled out as virtually one of a kind.
In recent months a Loudoun County site known as the Amos Goodin House was added to this prestigious list. And, what a coup for historic preservation, the County and Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole.
A Long and Winding Road Home
Matthew Parse and his wife, Brenda Morton purchased the property containing the Goodin House in 2010.
The stone house – built in the “stuga” or “cabin” style – was owned by a man named Amos Goodin.
Research shows that Goodin purchased the land from Mahlon Janney – in the year 1760. Janney, a Quaker, was a member of one of Loudoun County’s oldest families. Goodin and members of his family were part of a local militia fighting on the side of the colonists during the Revolutionary War.
A ceremony attended by representatives from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Viking Division of the Naval Sea Cadets, Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser, friends and family, neighbors and others was held this fall to dedicate the house. And, that period in history was very much present. A woman from California named Barbara Roberts Allen –Amos Goodin’s 5th great granddaughter – traveled thousands of miles to be there.
When asked what inspired her to save the house, Morton, without missing a beat said, “My husband. His love of historic preservation is who he is. He is an artist and extremely talented. He didn’t do this for financial gain or recognition. He understands the period and the construction details and could envision what it would look like when it was restored.” Continued Morton, “My husband’s talent for painting, sketching, furniture making and functional art, informed every bit of it.” And, Morton’s favorite feature of the house? – “The porch, the porch,” she said. “It’s in a perfect location looking out over the woods. It’s peaceful, with a creek running next to it.” And, “I also like the huge fireplace. All of us – me, my husband and my kids fit in the fireplace, together.”
Rarest of the Rare
These kinds of features, among others, are what makes the house unique. That and the structure’s enduring soul. Subtle details of color, material and light … the distinct curve of an inner staircase … the view of the barn from a second floor window.
The home and barn are located within the Wright Farm, east of the South Fork of the Catoctin Creek in Purcellville. Per Virginia Department of Historic Resources documents, “This type of ‘Loudoun Stuga’ house is one of the earliest examples of its kind in Loudoun County, and it is made more historically significant by the fact that Amos, David, and Samuel [father and sons] all served their country during the Revolutionary War. The Goodin family was the primary owner of the home and property from c 1760-1904.”
Neighbor Kecia Brown, herself an avid preservationist, was invited over to the property as part of an earlier open house organized by Parse and Morton.
A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution – and a commercial interior designer by trade – Brown has always had an eye for structural aesthetics. And, she has spent many, many hours doing historical research on area historical spots and her own family lineage.
She also knows how the time period a structure like the Goodwin House belonged to would have influenced the building materials used, the curve that a staircase might have taken, the color of a wall. Even with this appreciation, Brown said that when she entered the structure, “I was pretty floored, it was just so beautiful. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at.”
Brown was so interested in the structure that she asked the owners if they had thought about getting the property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They had started the process at one point, and so Brown, eager to get the structure the recognition it deserved, offered to help.
This is the essence of how places like the Goodin House find the long road home to permanent restoration. Individuals – one at a time and then as a group – dedicating themselves to their preservation.
The house is now officially recognized by the DAR, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The work that Parse, Morton and Brown have undertaken has also contributed immeasurably to Loudoun County’s history, connecting the people, places and things we see today, to revolutionary times.
Loudoun County is a powerhouse of history because of places and structures like the Amos Goodin House.