The town of Purcellville, (population 6,800) settled in the mid-1700s and incorporated in 1908, is the historical and cultural center of western Loudoun County, Virginia. Purcellville’s evolution can be measured along its Main Street, which began as an ox cart path and evolved into the “Great Road” leading from Alexandria to Winchester. First came the stagecoach in 1841, then the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad in 1874, reinforcing Purcellville’s identity as the commercial hub for the surrounding agricultural community. Train service stopped in 1968, but Purcellville remained commercially important, and by the early 2000s was one of the nation’s fastest growing communities.
Improved transportation contributed to the town becoming a center for religious and reform activity, attracting thousands to Temperance meetings known as Bush Meetings between 1876 and the early 1930s, and hosting Loudoun County Emancipation Association activities between 1910 and 1936. Among activities in 2008 marking the centennial of Purcellville’s incorporation was the transfer of the 15-acre property known as the Bush Meeting Grounds (also known as Fireman’s Field) from the Purcellville Volunteer Fire Company to the town. Site of the Temperance meetings for which the town is famous, the Bush Meeting Grounds later served as a focal point for recreational and cultural events. Now protected by a conservation easement and covenant, the property is slated for restoration and continued use as a local amenity and regional attraction.
The Purcellville Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. The town’s Board of Architectural Review monitors changes in the locally designated historic corridor overlay district, and the non-profit Purcellville Preservation Association works to promote preservation through publications, tours, and other activities. The newly formed Black History Committee is raising awareness of Purcellville’s historic Emancipation Day Celebrations and other aspects of the town’s African American history.
Purcellville is an active participant in the recently created Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, which encompasses one of the most historic corridors in the nation. Working with the Heritage Area and the Loudoun County Convention and Visitors Association, Purcellville is promoting heritage tourism and marketing its unique historic character.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2008.