Magazine article Parks & Recreation
Connecting History: Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority Acquires 150 Acres in History-Laden Land Transfer
Ripe with history, Virginia tourism has grown to the number-two industry in the state with places like Manassas and Williamsburg serving up rich history lessons. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is looking to create its own hub of Civil War heritage with a new land acquisition that will keep history buffs begging for more. In a complicated deal, NVRPA acquired 150 acres this summer that will create not just another stop in a historical corridor, but an open space recreation area as well. After NVRPA Executive Director Paul Gilbert looked at property called Mosby Run a year ago, he knew it would make an interesting acquisition for the agency. The land, less than an hour west of Washington, D.C., was the site of the Battle of Aldie, where Major General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry screened the Confederates as they marched toward the Shenandoah Valley.
However, it wasn't until Loudoun County approached NVRPA recently about the property that Gilbert thought it could become a reality. "The county wanted it protected and was interested in keeping it as public land," he says.
The land was about to go into foreclosure because the owners, the Mt. Zion Church Preservation Association, couldn't afford payments on the Mosby Run property. Across the road, the county owned the Mt. Zion Church that had recently undergone almost $1 million in renovations. When Gilbert was approached about taking control of Mosby Run and its loan, he also asked about Mr. Zion.
"It makes sense because the history of the properties is connected," says Gilbert. The Battle of Aldie occurred in 1863, and the wounded were taken to the church.
So with help from Loudoun resident Joan Rokus, who sat on the preservation board and was originally responsible for securing funds to renovate the church, the county transferred Mt. …