Day Tripping - DC Metro
Purcellville, Virginia
Site Links
Items of Interest: Antiques, Furniture, Restaurants
(Located about 50 miles west of Washington, DC
And about 30 miles east of Winchester, Virginia.
It is the center of western Loudoun County)

What can you say about Purcellville? It is not a large city, not filled with historic sites of national significance; nor does one find dozens of quaint shops on a tree-lined boulevard.

Then, "Why," one would ask, "would anyone recommend a visit to this town?"

I'll tell you why, my friends. We spent a wonderful day there in late October 2004 to enjoy a house tour. The Purcellville Preservation Association (Now Named the Purcellville Historical Society) hosted a tour of six vintage homes and other historic sites.

The weather was perfect, the home owners and volunteer docents were knowledgeable, friendly and welcoming, and the open homes were well worth the short drive from Arlington. More on the tour below.

As is our want, we also needed to eat at a local restaurant in order to determine if we wanted to add Purcellville to this site. Our choice was about as perfect as it gets.

At the suggestion of a wonderfully helpful Susie Windham (PPA Tour Chairman), we had made reservations at the "Magnolias at the Mill" restaurant, located in the heart of town next to the recently restored Train Station.

Downtown Purcellville
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

Magnolias at the Mill

At the suggestion of a wonderfully helpful Susie Windham (PPA Tour Chairman), we had made reservations at the "Magnolias at the Mill" restaurant, located in the heart of town next to the recently restored Train Station.

Magnolias at the Mill
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

Our criteria for judging satisfaction with restaurants are quite simple, really. They are: (1) Super Service; (2) Tea that tastes like Tea; (3) Great Soups and Salads; (4) Uniquely Prepared Entries; and (5) Terrific Desserts.

Magnolias met all of these with flying colors.

To begin, Tom had their tomato and smoked gouda soup while I selected the spinach salad with dried cherries, spiced walnuts and green apples tossed with a maple dressing. Both were outstanding.

Our entries included (1) grilled marinated flank steak with garlic mashed potatoes, rosemary scented broccoli, and roasted mushrooms and (2) hickory grilled burger with Vermont cheddar on a soft roll with lettuce, tomatoes and dijonnaise (plus some of the finest French Fries I have ever had). These were wonderful. The portions were moderate (much to our delight), the presentations were artful, and the tastes uniquely satisfying.

We concluded with dessert - usually we shouldn't, but we nearly always do. We were certainly glad we did on this day. The cheesecake and the apple crisp were just great.

We also learned that "flatbreads" are pizzas - I guess we should be embarrassed that we didn't know that, but we're not!!! Our waiter, Oscar U, was just super - attentive, polite, friendly, and efficient. I'm not sure we could have asked for more.

There was even a notable eating there at the same time. John F. Leyman, a "9/11 Commission Report" member, arrived at the same time we did and was emotionally thanked for his contribution to his country by another diner in line in front of us. I wanted to do the same, but decided not to do so, not wanting to disturb Mr. Leyman's meal.

Our Rating (Five Chefs is Highest)

Inside View
Magnolias at the Mill
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

Purcellville Historical Society

As mentioned above, our main reason for visiting Purcellville was their house tour, sponsored by the Purcellville Preservation Association - Now Known as the Purcellville Historical Society. The Historical Society is very active in preservation activities. Most notably, they acquired and restored the Purcellville Train Station (circa 1904). This project was begun in 1991 and completed in 2002.

On Tour day, the Station was filled with model electric trains, enthusiastically operated by a model train club.

The trains were great - quite a bit larger than the Lionel I owned as a kid.

Train Station at Purcellville
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

The Kiosk Across from the Train Station
NOTE: Parking is Plentiful
AND the Train Station has Public Rest Rooms

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

Included were 5 houses, four of which were Victorian and one of Greek Revival architecture. Each house was distinct in design and most certainly unique in decorative style.

We found wonderous collections of all sorts, period furniture, "works in progress," informed and friendly volunteer docents, and were introduced to most of the owners.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the Tour was the fact that two of the homes were being restored by young couples. Historic Preservation in America seems to be increasingly pushed aside by uncontrolled development, and it often appears that our generation (i.e., age 55 and over) may be the only ones supporting our architectural heritage. Seeing these two young couples grapling with efforts to restore wonderful old homes was comforting to say the least.