Main Streets 2016: Virginia
A town rich in history, with more than 20 entries on the National Register of Historic Places, Leesburg, Virginia has faced the challenge of preserving its old-time charm and characteristics while supporting rapid growth and development. Just over 30 miles from the nation’s capital, Leesburg has been able to prosper economically while also developing into a bedroom community for residents who work in Washington, D.C.
Set in the Piedmont region near the eastern end the Blue Ridge Mountains, Leesburg served briefly as the nation’s capital during the War of 1812 and played a pivotal role in the Civil War. Today, it has one of Virginia’s best-preserved, most picturesque downtowns. In the Historic District, you’ll find well-preserved 19th century buildings, delightful restaurants and shops, and plenty of fun to be had. East and West Market Streets provide a variety of attractions.
During the warmer months, locals enjoy a series of outdoor summer concerts on either end of Market Street, along with a Flower and Garden Festival that magically transforms the Historic District into a floral utopia. Each month, the First Friday event brings music and comedy to the downtown, along with wine tasting, art exhibits, and a colorful celebration of shopping.
As summer turns to fall, the Leesburg Airshow brings aerobatic performances for adrenaline seekers. And Market Station, with seven restored buildings including the old railroad station, is home to high-tech and legal offices and offers dining and shopping right off of the Historic District.
Back on East Market Street, you can learn much more about history, both local and global, by exploring the George C. Marshall International Center; the five-star general and architect of the Marshall Plan was one of many Leesburg natives who rose to fame. Stop in also at the Thomas Balch Library, a treasure trove for history and genealogy research on West Market Street.
There’s likely to be something good happening at Tally Ho Theatre, also on West Market. The former movie theater, built in the 1930s, is a centerpiece of nightlife in Leesburg, hosting a lively array of musical performances and events.
All photos courtesy of Visit Loudoun