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Legacy Barn

An expansive historic barn rests next to a slow moving creek in central Loudoun County, Virginia. The unique brown stain covering the boards of the barn seem to "hum" in the ambient glow of the setting sun. Similar effects have been seen on weathered red boards of other barns, but this particular hue seems to react with the sun in a more dramatic way. Adding to the late, long rays of the run were the swaying tops of long field grass. Topped with perfect-day clouds, it was hard to leave this spot.

Today, this barn is mainly used to store landscaping and agricultural equipment for the plantation. In its day, it was likely used to store grains and hay. With a large second floor "vault", several years worth of field fruit could have been stored for future use, and sale. Lately I've come to know that seed barns were used here in Loudoun County like today's modern banks. Farmers could store their seeds and use them as capital.

 

Between the barn and the creek stands a large Osage-orange tree. The amazing and unusual fruit from this tree could be seen in various places around the plantation this day. The fruit are lime green in color (in fall), are covered with oblong raised bumps (drupes) and average 5" in diameter. I've since learned the wood from this tree was used by American Indians to make bows.

Being a Loudoun County Landscape Photographer surely is not difficult with scenes like this. While barns such as this one are disappearing, they are still in abundance if you know where to look. Oatlands Plantation is unique in that the working complex remains much like it did a hundred years ago. While the central plantation does not farm today, the buildings and roads remain in tact.

This national historic site is working hard to uncover untold stories of its past. There is currently an archeological dig underway to examine foundations long lost under existing buildings. This weekend the site was exposed for visitors to peer into the past; a five foot hole under another barn.

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Oatlands Plantation Celebrates

On this day the Oatlands Plantation celebrated the 200th birthday of their greenhouse. Built in 1810, the most advanced materials and techniques of the day were used in its construction. With a glass roof and southern facing glass wall, the facility captures much of the daily sun as it makes its way across the sky. The balance of the building of made of brick. The pipes, attached to the interior brick walls, are connect to the fireplace. The internal system for heating and cooling were balanced by heat from the sun, the fireplace and cool cellar which served as a multi-functional aspect of this building.

The greenhouse is noted as being the second oldest such structure in the country. In its restored state today, it looks much like it did 200 years ago, when it provided produce year round.
 

 

The historic mansion (below) rests a short distance from the greenhouse. A tour of this beautiful historic home provides the feeling of stepping back in time. Plantations can be found all over the state of Virginia, but Oatlands stands out for its grandeur and rich history of early farming. This National Trust location hosts events throughout the year, including the well attended annual horse race know as Point To Point.
 


 

Locations such as this provide a one stop site for producing Virginia photography. With its rich gardens, long covered roads and paths, staff quarters and mansion, the grounds provide something new upon every visit. Oatlands Plantation is a wonderful place for the family to visit and take in local Loudoun history.

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Meet the Artist event

On Saturday, June 18, I will be speaking at Loudoun County's Cascades Library during their Meet the Artist event. I will be showing examples of my landscape photography and discussing the stories behind them. The event begins at 2 pm.

Follow this library link to learn more: engagedpatrons.org/EventsExtended.cfm?SiteID=6457&EventID=88099.

Much of my work not only focuses on Loudoun's natural beauty, but also its historic places, farms and hiking trails. Loudoun offers a rich history dating back to the early 1700's. George Washington is credited with surveying early Loudoun and is responsible for mapping out natural boarders and landmarks. He is also known to have owned various places of businesses here in Loudoun following his initial explorations.

Another angle to my work focuses on preservation. Over the last eight years, I've captured vistas, barns and farms. Many of the places depicted in my photos no longer exist. They have either been replaced with neighborhoods or simply torn down for safety reasons. Some of the images shown during my discussion will focus on these places.

As always, I welcome audience interaction as part of my discussion. I hope to learn something myself from those who attend. No reservations required, just show up. I look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks!

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