My final project is going to focus on the conflict between progress and remembrance/historic preservation as it relates to the village of Buckland, a collection of 18th and 19th century homes 3 miles west of Gainesville that was also the site of a civil war cavalry engagement in 1863.
I began to think more about historic preservation in Northern Virginia when, after a few months in this area, my girlfriend and I settled into a wonderful Saturday morning routine involving breakfast at a little deli called Chutzpah in Fairfax Town Center. Perhaps my brain was addled by corned beef hash, but it took several trips to our favorite haunt before I realized that a small portion of a battlefield was preserved right across the street. The Battle of Ox Hill was fought in the wake of the Second Battle of Manassas, and resulted in over 2,000 casualties that fell right where I kick off my weekend. Now, several monuments, and a small park littered with beer bottles, are all that is left to remind us of this battle. This discovery made me realize that Northern Virginia is littered with historic sites that are in a seemingly constant state of danger from suburban sprawl and expanding transportation networks.
This digital story will focus on the fight to preserve one of these threatened sites, the aforementioned village of Buckland. Buckland is not unique in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Countless towns developed around gristmills in Virginia’s Piedmont as wheat production grew in importance. Yet this collection of buildings has survived relatively intact, where others have been swallowed by condo developments and strip malls. Buckland is in the process of being increasingly preserved, rehabilitated, and interpreted for public education, but it is now being threatened by the growth of both Gainesville and Warrenton in addition to the expansion of Rt. 29. This story will recount the way I discovered Buckland after unknowingly driving past it numerous times on my way to outings in Shenandoah National Park, the actions that are currently being taken to save the site by the Buckland Preservation Society, and the ways in which the threats to Buckland represent a larger conflict between progress and historic preservation/education.