Here’s a Great Look at the Quaker “Good Old Days.” Beautiful — But a Lot of Work

[Note: It’s rare that blog material turns up in the real estate section, especially the mainly rather upscale version in the Washington Post, and particularly in the rather very upscale horsey parts of Loudoun County, Virginia, out near where the Shenandoah Valley begins. But for many decades once upon a time, much of Loudoun was Quaker country, and there are still active meetings in the region. There’s also lots of Quaker history to see and explore; and here’s a glimpse at a special piece of it.]

Washington Post

Historical Quaker Farm in Loudoun County for sale

Stone Eden Farm is typical of the small farms owned by Quakers in the 18th century
The stone house was built in 1765. An addition was made in 1817. (Mario Mineros Photography)

By Kathy Orton
 — June 3, 2022

Stone Eden Farm, a historical Quaker farm in Hamilton, Va., with roots that go back more than 250 years, is on the market for just under $1.4 million.

When Lord Fairfax owned what would become Loudoun County, he granted land there to William Hatcher, a Quaker who moved to the area from Pennsylvania. By 1765, Hatcher had built a house on the land as required by Fairfax as a condition of the deed, or patent. That stone patent house has been home to generations of farmers.

Like most Quakers who came to Loudoun County, Hatcher was drawn to its fertile pastureland. Stone Eden Farm was typical of the small farms owned by Quakers in the 18th century. Because of their religious beliefs, Quakers did not rely on enslaved labor, and their farms tended to be smaller than the plantations in eastern and southern Loudoun.

Hatcher was a founding member of the Goose Creek Meeting House, a place of Quaker worship. Goose Creek, a village southwest of Hamilton, was later renamed Lincoln, for the president, following the Civil War.

The National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Goose Creek Historic District declares, “No other section of Northern Virginia contains more examples of stone architecture and few other settled rural areas of the Commonwealth possess such a high degree of unspoiled pastoral beauty.”

”Stone Eden Farm remained in the Hatcher family until 1930, when the Brown family bought it. Bobby Brown was the last of his family to own the farm. While he was thinking about selling it, he approached Allen Cochran, a stone mason who grew up a mile away from the farm in Lincoln.

“He said, ‘You would be a perfect guy for that house up there,’ and I sort of laughed at him,” Allen said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to own it, but he worked with me.”

Allen and his wife, Nancy, moved to the farm in 1999, becoming only the third family since 1765 to own it.

“I’m a Quaker,” Allen said. “My family’s heritage goes back to [the village of] Lincoln and its early settlers. This [farm] is very much a heritage, something that I feel like I’m a little part of. I’m a small link in a very long chain.”

Nancy also has deep roots in Loudoun. She grew up a half-mile from Allen and went to high school with many of Brown’s grandchildren.

“It was like coming home even before we lived here,” she said. “That link to the past and preserving the past, that story for people to carry into the future is very important to me in so many ways.”

For some people, the amount of work the house and barns needed would have been intimidating. But Allen’s business, Cochran Stone Masonry, restores and preserves old structures. He welcomed the challenge.

“Ninety percent of my work is undoing,” he said. “It was nice to grab something that was pretty much original.”

Nancy added: “Allen did all the work. I might have held a couple of boards.”

Like many houses of this period, the 1765 stone patent house had been expanded. An addition was made in 1817. As part of the restoration, the Cochrans kept much of the fabric of the house and its footprint. They redid the floors and plaster work and refinished the doors. The fireplace in the patent house had been covered by a wall with a sink in front of it. It was uncovered and restored.

When the Cochrans decided to enlarge the house, they found an 1870s log cabin in West Virginia and attached it to the back. Brown told them that his mother remembered a log structure that was part of house when they bought it.

The log cabin was in poor shape, but the flooring and paneling made it worth saving. From a red oak in his grandmother’s yard, Allen milled the wood to create the floor joists and a load-bearing beam in the cabin.

“All the floor system came out of one tree so it’s pretty cool,” Allen said.

The main floor of the log cabin became the kitchen. The cabinetry is reclaimed brown face pine — from a barn in Purcellville, Va. — that Allen treated with a simulated whitewash.

(Mario Mineros Photography)

“The patina was very beautiful, but with the stone, wood floor and wood ceiling, I thought the room would be very dark,” he said.

The Cochrans kept much of the fabric of the house and its footprint when they restored it.

The countertops are reclaimed white oak, and the sink is soapstone from Albemarle County, Va. A stone gable wall with a seven-foot cooking fireplace was built from stones on the property.

Allen took as much care restoring the barns as he did the house. The stone barn is believed to have been built in 1869 after the original barn was destroyed in the 1864 Burning Raid by Union troops during the Civil War. The barn has offices, a woodworking shop and guest quarters.

“It’s just my favorite place on earth,” Allen said. “It’s where I run my business. … It’s been a really fabulous place to work. It’s a great piece of Loudoun history.”

The farm has several outbuildings, including a stone barn with offices, a woodworking shop and one-bedroom, one-bathroom guest quarters, and a barn with a lambing wing, which has a horse stall as well. There is also a chicken coop.

The other barn is used by the Cochrans for birthing sheep but could be an equestrian facility. Although the Browns raised cattle, the Cochrans have chosen to raise sheep. Their sheep drive each January has become a local attraction.

“This has been an amazing place to live,” Nancy said. But “I think it’s time for a new steward and time for us to go.”

In addition to the four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 3,300-square-foot stone house, the nine-acre property has a spring-fed creek and several outbuildings. . . . and a spring-fed creek.

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