Save Old Sterling (SOS) is a group of hard-working, concerned citizens dedicated to preserving what remains of Guilford Station — the little town established when the railroad came through.
Old Sterling had its own railroad station and served as a thriving commercial center for area farmers. The Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad initially called the Sterling rail stop “Guilford Station” when the railroad depot was established in 1860.
According to Loudoun historian Eugene Scheel, President James Buchanan was still in office when the post office was established near a house he had visited during the summers of 1859 and 1860. Perhaps when considering Buchanan, locals or the railroad thought the chief executive’s name too difficult to spell or pronounce, and so they, or maybe the first postmaster, Richard H. Havener, opted for Guilford Station. The spelling was a corruption of “Guildford” (meaning a trading place by a ford), a city in Surrey, England. Of course, the nearby ford was Broad Run.
In 1872, the postmaster renamed the rail stop Loudoun Station as it was the first stop over the Fairfax/Loudoun county line. But the name never became fixed with the locals. Many residents found it confusing to have the train depot share the same name with the county. The postmaster changed the name one last time from Loudoun to Sterling in 1887. If you Google “Sterling VA”, the orange pin winds up right on Guilford.
SOS meets monthly on the LAST Tuesday, 7:30 PM at Mona’s Lebanese Cafe (1006 Ruritan Circle.) Meetings are open to the public and we greatly enjoy meeting newcomers. If you’d like to attend a meeting, please either email us or call (703) 992-3508
What’s left of Guilford is basically two little roads — Ruritan Circle and Ruritan Road. Ruritan Circle used to be “Church Road”, then “Old Church Road”. About 10 years ago, Atlantic Boulevard and (the new) Church Road formed a little enclave, effectively routing traffic away from the little village. From a preservation point-of-view, that’s a good thing: the mad rush to pave Old Sterling abated temporarily. But the pressure is on: land is too expensive (it falls within the Rte. 28 tax overlay) in this rapidly growing County. Bad things happen to good buildings…
We think Guilford’s railroad-town history is extremely important and should be a source of pride and recognition for modern members of this thriving Loudoun District. We recognize that these precious land parcels (many of which are currently idle) need to be economically productive in 2017. Our goal is to bring about change that honors and, to the extent possible, recalls the original “tiny town that time forgot”.
If you have ideas about how to save Old Sterling, or how to make this website better or if you’d like to join us, make a contribution or just know more about us, please send an email to info@SaveOldSterling.org.
You can see some of what we’ve been up to on our Media Page