Drive east on Route 50 from the Middleburg area, and it seems that every day a new development is sprouting up. With entrances defined by “recreated” mills and what looks like a light house lost far from sea, these houses are perhaps inevitable this close to the Nation’s capital. Living about 8 miles away, on land owned by my husband’s family since the 1780’s, I cannot tell you how happy I was to find out that Gilbert’s Corner is going to remain a rural intersection, surrounded by open land, thanks to the hard work, foresight and generosity of many local residents.
A Native American trail used by the Algonquin and Iroquois passed nearby, followed by the famous Carolina Road. After William Gilbert built his gas station in 1927, “Meet me at Gilbert’s Corner” became a phrase used by many travelers as they journeyed Routes 15 and 50 through Loudoun County. The landmark intersection provided an easy gathering place to meet friends, get gas and grab a ham sandwich. The station closed in the early 1980’s, and, while still named “Gilbert’s Corner”, this once busy hub saw traffic diverted to Routes 81 and 66. For decades, the area sat neglected, until the push of development from nearby Washington, DC, brought it to the attention of developers.
And now, about 400 acres of open land surrounding Gilbert’s Corner, have been permanently protected from the scourge of Sheetz, 7-11s and other modern day eye sores. Yes, they are necessities, but how lovely that future generations will always be able to enter the gently rolling rural land to the west of the Bull Run Mountains through this preserved agrarian gateway.
From the Watson Road circle, 155 acres north of Route 50 have been donated and become the Gilbert’s Corner Regional Park, part of the Northern Virginia Park system, preserving land that witnessed the Battle of Aldie in June of 1863. From the historic Mount Zion Church to the “Corner” to the south of Route 50, the land has been preserved, thanks to the support of donors and the Piedmont Environmental Council. No McDonald’s, no Wendy’s, no Wal-Mart.
And, the actual cross road at Gilbert’s Corner is in transition with a vision to help area farmers and local consumers. The area where the old gas station still stands, will soon be a thriving market. The gas station itself will be tenderly recreated as it appeared in the early 20th Century. Already, pick your own strawberries and pumpkins have joined produce and food vendors to bring activity back to this section of Loudoun County, as the bigger market project is seeded, takes root and is nurtured.
I am excited to be a part of this opportunity to highlight local products, and to strengthen the relationship between our community of farmers and consumers. I hope you will follow this journey with us and “meet me at Gilbert’s Corner”.
Gilbert’s Corner Market