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A typical Victorian "mansion" in Leesburg's historic district.
Leesburg is a historic town in, and county seat of, Loudoun Countymarker, Virginiamarker, United Statesmarker of America. Leesburg is located approximately west-northwest of Washington, D.C.marker along the base of the Catoctin Mountainmarker and adjacent to the Potomac River. The town is also the northwestern terminus of the Dulles Greenway (a private toll road which connects to the Dulles Toll Road at Washington Dulles International Airportmarker).

Leesburg, like the rest of Loudoun, has undergone considerable growth and development over the last 30 years, transforming from a small, rural, piedmont town to a suburban bedroom community for commuters to the national capital. Current growth in the town and its immediate area to the east (Landsdowne/Ashburnmarker) concentrates along the Dulles Greenway and the Leesburg Pike (State Route 7), which roughly parallels the Potomac River between Winchestermarker to the west and Alexandriamarker to the east.

The Federal Aviation Administration's Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center is located in Leesburg.



Prior to European settlement, the area around Leesburg was occupied by various Native American tribes. John Lederer (1670) testified that the entire Piedmont region had once been occupied by the "Tacci, alias Dogi", but that the Siouan tribes, driven from the northwest, had occupied it for 400 years. The first known Europeans to visit what would become Loudoun reported encountering the Piscataway tribe living along the Potomac in the environs of Leesburg.

What would become known as the Old Carolina Road (present day U.S. Route 15) was a major route of travel between north and south for Native tribes. According to local historians, a pitched battle was fought near present Leesburg between the warring Catawba and Lenape tribes, neither of whom lived in the area. A war party of Lenape had traveled from their home in New Jersey and neighboring regions, all the way to South Carolina to inflict a blow on their distant enemies, the Catawba. As they were returning northward, a party of Catawbas overtook them before they reached the Potomac, but were defeated in a pitched battle two miles (3 km) south of Leesburg. The surviving Lenape buried their dead in a huge burial mound, and early settlers reported that they would return to this mound to honor their dead on the anniversary of this battle for many years thereafter. The date of this conflict is unknown, but it seems the Lenape and Catawba were indeed at war in 1732.

Colonial Era and Founding

European settlement of near Leesburg began in the late 1730s as tidewater planters moved into the area from the south and east establishing large farms and plantations. Many of the First Families of Virginia were among those to settle in the area including the Carters, Lees and Masons. The genesis of Leesburg occurred sometime before 1755 when Nicholas Minor acquired land around the intersection of the Old Carolina Road and the Potomac Ridge Road (present day Route 7) and established a tavern there. Despite lack of growth around the tavern, upon Loudoun's formation in 1757, Minor dubbed the sparse collection of buildings about his tavern "George Town" in honor of the reigning monarch of Great Britainmarker. The village's prosperity changed the following year when the British Colonial Council ordered the establishment of the county Court House at the crossroads. Accordingly Minor had a town laid out on the traditional Virginia plan of six criss-cross streets. On October 12 of that year (1758) the Virginia General Assemblymarker founded the town of Leesburg upon the that Minor laid out. Leesburg was renamed to honor the influential Thomas Lee and not, as is popular belief, his son Francis Lightfoot Lee who lived in Loudoun and brought up the bill to establish Leesburg nor as is sometimes thought, Robert E. Lee (his great grandnephew). Interestingly, when the post office was established in Leesburg in 1803 the branch was named "Leesburgh", the 'h' would persist until 1894.


During the War of 1812, Leesburg served as a temporary haven for the United States Government and its archives (including the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and portraits of early American leaders) when it was forced to flee Washington, D.C.marker in the face of the British Army. When reconstruction began on the Capitol, Potomac Marble from quarries just south of Leesburg was used.

Civil War

Early in the American Civil War Leesburg was the site of the Battle of Balls Bluffmarker, a resounding Confederate victory. The battlefield is marked by one of America's smallest national cemeteries. The town frequently changed hands over the course of the war as both armies traversed the area during the Marland and Gettysburg campaigns. The Battle of Mile Hill was fought just north of the town prior to its occupation by Robert E. Lee in September 1862. Leesburg also served as a base of operations for Col. John S. Mosby and his partisan Raiders, for whom the Loudoun County High School mascot is named (the Raiders). Although many people consider the local courthouse to be one of the few courthouses in Virginia that was not burned during the course of the Civil War (1861-1865), it was not in fact built until 1894.

20th century

In the 20th century, Leesburg was the home of World War II General George C. Marshall, architect of the famous Marshall Plan that helped re-build Europe after the war, and radio personality Arthur Godfrey, who donated land for the town's first airport.

Today Leesburg continues to serve as the center of government and commerce for Loudoun County. The town's Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and cited as one of the best preserved and most picturesque downtowns in Virginia. Downtown merchants have recently labeled themselves "Loudoun's (or, Loudoun County's, depending on the audience,) Original Town Center," largely in response to the growing number of mixed-use shopping in proximity.. As of 2007, the town had been county seat for 249 of the last 250 years.

Historic sites

The Wheat Building
The Leesburg area contains 21 entries on the National Register of Historic Places, including:

At least 63 historic markers are located in and near Leesburg.


On September 14, 2008, The Town of Leesburg celebrated its 250th birthday. During that celebration, the town unveiled its new flag.

Colors: Red is the color from the Lee Family Coat of Arms.
White is from the Lee Family Coat of Arms.

Blue is from the Lee Family of Virginia Coat of Arms.

Yellow is from the Lee Family Coat of Arms.
Symbology: This flag represents the coat of arms that was in use by the Lee Family of Virginiawhen Leesburg was founded in 1758. The blue and yellow checkerboard bandon the red back ground represents the Lee Family Coat of Arms at whichLeesburg is named for and the white Cinquefoil (five petal flower) on a bluebackground comes from the Astley Family Coat of Arms. The coats of arms werequartered like the flag is showing. The white cross indicates Leesburg as acrossroads.


Leesburg is located at (39.109219, -77.557868) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 11.6 square miles (30.0 km²), all of it land.

Leesburg is located in the northern, Virginia Piedmont at the base of the easternmost chain of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Catoctin Mountainmarker. It is an area of the Piedmont known as the Culpeper Basin (a vast inland sea during the Jurassic era and is also in the valley of the Potomac river, therefore the overall relief is much less dramatic than other Virginia piedmont towns . Elevation in town is ranges from about to , though portions of western Leesburg along the foot of Catoctin Mountain may be considerably higher. The principle drainage for the town is Tuscarora Creek and its northern branch, referred to as the Town Branch, which empties into Goose Creek just east of the town.


Leesburg has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa).


Census estimates as of June 1 2006, show the population of Leesburg at 37,476 people. As of the 2000 census there were 10,325 households, and 7,258 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,440.1 people per square mile (942.3/km²). There were 10,671 housing units at an average density of 919.7/sq mi (355.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 83.29% White, 9.20% African American, 0.19% Native American, 2.61% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.53% from other races, and 2.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.89% of the population.

Of all households 41.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.3% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.7% were non-families. 22.9% are made up of individuals and 4.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.20.

In the town the population was spread out with 29.4% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 38.9% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 6.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.9 males.

The median income of the households in the town is $68,861, and the median income of the families is $78,111 (these figures had risen to $87,346 and $105,260 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $51,267 versus $35,717 for females. The per capita income for the town was $30,116. About 2.4% of families and 3.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.

Education and public services

Leesburg currently has two public high schools operated by the Loudoun County Public School systemmarker; Loudoun County High School, which serves the western portion, and Heritage High School, which serves the eastern portion. A third school, Tuscarora High School, located north of Ida Lee Park is currently under construction and is slated to open in 2010. Leesburg is also served by several private schools, including Dominion Academy, a K–8 non-denominational Christian school; Leesburg Christian School, a K–12 non-denominational Christian school; and pre-K-8 Loudoun Country Day School.

The Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company provides fire protection services. The Loudoun County Volunteer Rescue Squad provides rescue and emergency medical services. Both the fire company and rescue squad are volunteer organizations supplemented with partial staffing from the Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management. The fire company can trace its roots back to 1863; the rescue squad was formed in 1952.

Leesburg is also served by a town police department.

Newspapers and Radio Stations

Business and industry

Leesburg operates the Leesburg Executive Airportmarker at Godfrey Field, which serves Loudoun County with private and corporate aircraft operations. A designated reliever airport for Dulles International, the airport accounts for nearly $45 million per year in economic impact to the region (Virginia Department of Aviation). It is home (as of 2005) to over 240 aircraft, and hosts 20–30 jet operations per day.The airport was built in 1963 to replace the original Leesburg airport, which Arthur Godfrey owned and referred to affectionately as "The Old Cow Pasture" on his radio show. Godfrey, who, by the early 1950s, had purchased the Beacon Hill Estate west of Leesburg, used a DC-3 to commute from his farm to studios in New York City every Sunday night during the 1950s and 1960s. His DC-3 was so powerful and noisy that Godfrey built a new airport, funding it through the sale of the old field. Originally named Godfrey Field, it is now known as Leesburg Executive Airportmarker at Godfrey Field.

Also located near Leesburg is the National Conference Center, which the Xerox Corporation built in the 1970s. Government entities and private business use the Conference Center for meetings and conferences. Three main focal points connect this maze of underground buildings, one of which is currently the headquarters of Civilian Police International, a government sub-contract company.

Market Station, located just south and east of Leesburg's Historic District, contains a number of high-tech and legal offices, retail shops, and restaurants that are housed within seven restored historic buildings (a railroad freight station, a railroad stationmaster's house, a log house, two barns and two gristmills), some of which were reconstructed in or relocated to the site. A plaza on the east side of the site contains several structures painted in the yellow and green colors of the stations of the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, which served the town until 1968.

Recreational facilities and events


  • Ida Lee Park - Located near the north side of Leesburg, Ida Lee Park was made possible in 1986 by the donation of Greenwood Farm to the Town of Leesburg by William F. Rust, Jr., and his wife, Margaret Dole Rust. The farm contained and was donated to the town for perpetual use as the Ida Lee Park. The Rusts requested that the park be named in memory of Ida Lee, Mr. Rust's grandmother, to preserve the historic link between the Lee family of Virginia and the Town of Leesburg. Ida Lee Rust was the daughter of Edmund Jennings Lee, first cousin of Robert E. Lee. Ida Lee spent her married life at "Rockland"; the Rust family home located near Leesburg, and in her later years lived in a house built by her sons at 113 East Cornwall Street in Leesburg. The Rusts also donated of land from the original for the Rust Library located adjacent to Ida Lee Park. In 1991, the Rusts gave the town $50,000 for the construction of the William J. Cox Pavilion at Ida Lee Park, a public picnic area containing a pavilion and playground.

  • Red Rocks Wilderness Overlook Regional Park - Located in eastern Leesburg along the banks of the Potomac River, the park, operated by the NVRPA, contains of woodlands and over of trails leading to bluffs along the river. The land was donate to NVRPA in 1978 by Frances Speek. The ruins located in the park date back to 1869, and were part of the estate of industrialist Charles R. Paxton, who is best known in Leesburg for building the Victorian mansion Carlheim.

  • The Rust Manor House and Nature Sanctuary - Located near the west side of Leesburg at the foot of Catoctin Mountain, the sanctuary contains a mansion and a nature reserve that the Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States, Inc., owns and operates..


  • Leesburg's Flower and Garden Festival - Held annually in April in the Historic District, the event includes garden displays, vendors and entertainment.

  • Fourth of July Celebration - Events include a morning parade, a festival at Ida Lee Park and evening fireworks.

  • August Court and Market Days - Held in August in the Historic District, the focus of this event is to recognize Leesburg’s cultural heritage.

  • Halloween Parade - Said to be the longest-running Halloween parade east of the Mississippi River , the parade includes marching bands from the local high schools, floats made by local businesses, Scout troops and families, etc. Many participants distribute candy to parade watchers.

Famous Residents


  1. Head, James W. History and Comprehensive Description of Loudoun County, Virginia.
  2. Scheel, Eugene
  3. Legends of Loudoun, Harrison Williams, p. 63-64
  4. Scheel, Eugene. Loudoun Discovered: Communities and Crossroads, Volume Two, Leesburg and the Old Carolina Road. Friends of the Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, Va. 2002.
  5. "History" page in Official website of the Town of Leesburg, Virginia Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.
  6. Scheel, Eugene. p23
  7. Scheel, Eugene. p.26
  8. Turner, Fitzhugh ed. Loudoun County and the Civil War. Willow Bend Books, Leesburg Va. 1998.
  9. Official website for the Leesburg Downtown Business Association Accessed Dec. 17, 2008.
  10. Loudoun Times-Mirror, "Leesburg says county should stay", September 12 2007, Page A1
  11. Dodona Manor: official website of the George C. Marshall International Center Accessed Sept. 30, 2008
  12. Exeter Plantation in "Exeter History" in Official website of the Exeter Homeowners Association Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.
  13. "Leesburg Markers" in Official website of, The Historical Marker Database Accessed Oct. 1, 2008.
  14. Leesburg census data US Census Bureau Retrieved 2009-09-10
  15. Official website of Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company 1 Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.
  16. Official website of the Loudoun County Volunteer Rescue Squad, Company 13, Leesburg, VA Accessed Sept. 13, 2008.
  17. Department of Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management page in Official website of the Loudoun County Government Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.
  18. "History of Loudoun's Fire & Rescue Stations" in Fire and Rescue Companies page in Department of Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management page in Official website of the Loudoun County Government Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.
  19. Police/Public Safety page in Official website of the Loudoun County Government Accessed Oct. 1, 2008.
  20. Official website of The National Conference Center Accessed Sept. 30, 2008
  21. Market Station, Leesburg, Virginia in Official website of Metro Management Services, LLC Accessed Sept. 30, 2008
  22. "The Depot" marker; "Stationmaster's House" marker; "Log House" marker; "Norman-Harding Barn ("The Wharf")" marker; "Dairy Barn" marker; "McKimmey's Mill" marker; and "Osterburg Mill" marker in Official website of, The Historical Marker Database Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.
  23. Coordinates of Market Station:
  24. Ida Lee Park in Official website of the Town of Leesburg, Virginia Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.
  25. [1] Accessed July 2, 2009.
  26. [2] Accessed July 2, 2009.
  27. Official website of the Rust Manor House and Nature Sanctuary Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.
  28. 18th Annual Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival in Official website of the Town of Leesburg, Virginia Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.
  29. Court and Market Days in Official website of the Town of Leesburg, Virginia Accessed Sept. 30, 2008.

External links

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