Love of land and history in Lovettsville: local couple and Land Trust of Virginia work to preserve 35 acre Linden Hall Farm
MIDDLEBURG, VA, December 29, 2020 – The Land Trust of Virginia is pleased to announce that Linden Hall Farm, located just north of Lovettsville, VA on Berlin Turnpike (Rt. 287) is now perpetually conserved in an Open Space Easement donated by property owners Gordon (Bart) and Carol Hodgson, who purchased the farm in 1997. The 35-acre farm had the potential to be developed into seven parcels. This conservation easement drastically reduces that number to one.
Linden Hall Farm is part homestead, part B&B and part working farm; home to a variety of farm animals that include cattle, sheep, donkeys, chickens, dogs and cats. Looking at the farm’s sprawling yellow farmhouse with its porches, and many outbuildings, one can feel the presence of all who have resided there since its construction. It’s also hard not to notice that this slice of history, surrounded by pastures, is also surrounded by a growing number of houses dotting the landscape. Lovettsville, Loudoun County’s northern most town, was founded in 1732 by Pennsylvania Germans; an area once rural, is now fighting off development sprawl.
A fascination with history
In the late 1990s, while on a Loudoun County Farm Tour, Bart and Carol were struck by the beauty of Lovettsville’s rolling hills and pastures, and its unique rural, historic, and scenic character. Sometime after purchasing Linden Hall, the Hodgson’s engaged a certified genealogist to research the ownership of the land and the history of the farmhouse and outbuildings. The Hodgson’s can trace the ownership of the land to King Charles II of England, which was granted to Thomas, Lord Fairfax, in 1742. The property was first established as a home in 1789 and since has had several prominent residents, each with large families (8-10+ children). Prior to the Hodgson’s purchase, the property was owned by Bud and Eve O’Brien, who spent nearly 20 years restoring the main house, winning the 1984 Loudoun Preservation Society Merit Award.
A special place for so many families for hundreds of years
Even with such a historied past, Linden Hall Farm is extraordinary in what it offers today. Working with the Land Trust of Virginia (LTV), the couple placed their property in a voluntary conservation agreement (known as a “conservation easement”). The agreement permanently protects its historic buildings – the existing farmhouse thought to have been built in the 1780s and the schoolhouse, circa 1790. Other public benefits of the agreement are the permanent protection of the scenic open space, agricultural lands and water resources, which will all remain intact. The property is home to productive fields and rolling pastures where cattle and sheep graze; in addition to an intermittent stream and pond that is important to the abundance of birds and other wildlife that call Linden Hall Farm home.
It could be gone in a blink of an eye
Bart and Carol knew that the history of the families and people that lived at Linden Hall was fragile, when set against the test of time, and that as its current caretakers, felt it was their job to preserve and protect its legacy. They also knew from their good friend Malcolm Baldwin, a longtime Lovettsville resident and passionate rural conservationist, that western Loudoun’s open spaces and working farms are in danger of disappearing. With resolve in his voice, Bart softly says, “There is peace of mind knowing that the farm will be protected from the surrounding development pressure. When we are gone – if we can leave something that lives on – that’s the legacy we want to leave behind.”
“This land has significant conservation values, both historically and agriculturally,” said LTV Executive Director Sally Price. “We are honored that the Hodgson family has chosen the Land Trust of Virginia to hold the conservation easement on this property. We are also honored to share that LTV’s Malcolm Forbes Baldwin Fund and the Deborah Whittier Fitts Battlefield Stewardship Fund assisted with the transaction costs of protecting the Hodgson’s farm.” The Baldwin Fund was established in honor of LTV Board Member, Malcolm Baldwin, and is specifically intended to support the conservation of working farms in Loudoun County with permanent conservation easements. The Fitts Fund was established in honor of its namesake, to offer financial assistance to landowners of significant battlefields with the costs of conserving their properties through conservation easements. A long-time professional journalist who reported for both the Loudoun Times Mirror and the Civil War News, Ms. Fitts was considered by many to be the nation’s leading journalist covering Civil War preservation issues. Using the Deborah Whittier Fitts Battlefield Stewardship Fund, LTV has been able to increase the number of significant battlefield acres under easement in Virginia.
The Land Trust of Virginia is a nonprofit organization that partners with private landowners who voluntarily protect and preserve properties with significant historic, scenic, or ecological value. LTV now holds 204 easements protecting a total of 23,076 acres in 18 counties in Virginia.