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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name The Plains Historic District
Reference Number 14000232
State Virginia
County Fauquier
Town The Plains
Street Address Parts of Main, Mosby, Lee, Bragg, Stuart, Jackson, Pickett, and Broad streets; Fauquier and Loudoun avenues; Hopewell and Old Tavern roads; and Forrest, Cottage, and Ashby lanes.
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 5/21/2014
Link to full file
"Framed by scenic landscapes on every side, The Plains is located in northeastern Fauquier County in Virginia's Piedmont region and contains approximately 130 acres. As confirmed by contemporaneous maps, a location identified as ""The Plains,"" or ""White Plains,"" dates from the 1820s, and a post office was first established there in 1831, although no extant buildings survive from that period. It was not, however, until the arrival ofthe Manassas Gap Railroad in the early 1850s that The Plains achieved its prominence and identity in the area as a commercial center and a community that served the surrounding agricultural estates. Although no major battle occurred there, its location on the railroad led to its strategic presence during the years of the Civil War, drawing sustained attention from both warring armies. Along with its surviving residences, the community features several well-preserved institutional, commercial, and transportation-related buildings, along with a rare Masonic lodge building and four churches. Wealthy northerners, notably railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman, who was a founder of the Orange County (New York) Hunt, came to The Plains in the early 20th century to relocate his operations in an area that offered expansive scenic landscapes in which to enjoy fox hunting. The presence of the Orange County Hunt is largely credited with the reinvigoration of the town in the first three decades of the 20th century. The Plains retains its original configuration dictated by the roads and the railroad right-of-way that traverse it and the surrounding residential enclaves. The Plains Historic District is locally significant under Criterion C in the area of Architecture for its well-preserved structures that tell the story of the community's growth and development from ca. 1850 to the early 1960s. It is also eligible on a local level of significance under Criterion A in the area of Transportation for its railroad buildings and supporting hotels and boarding houses and for its surviving identifiable transportation corridors; in the area of Commerce for the surviving buildings spanning more than a century that have housed commercial and retail functions serving nearby farmsteads; and in the area of Social History as illustrative of the phenomena of Northern industrialists relocating to Virginia and infusing communities with capital and an enthusiastic commitment to revitalization. The Period of Significance for The Plains Historic District stretches from ca. 1850 when the earliest surviving buildings were constructed and shortly before the railroad first reached the community, linking it with Northern Virginia communities and the nation's capital, to 1962, the construction date of one of the four churches and several of the small residences. The significant dates are 1852, the year in which the Manassas Gap Railroad reached The Plains, 1887 when the substantial railroad depot was constructed, 1910 when the community sought and secured its own charter as an incorporated town, and 1915 when a new brick passenger train station was constructed. The historic district has integrity of location, setting, feeling, association, design, materials, and workmanship and contains over 195 contributing resources and 70 non-contributing resources."

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria