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Cole Farm Barn Damaged, Work Stopped

Updated 3/29, 7:00 a.m…see below article…

I was sitting at my computer a few minutes ago when I saw the following message pop up from Purcellville Mayor Bob Lazaro:

When the Town approved the Harris Teeter project a requirement of approval was the restoration of the house, barn and silo which would be incorporated into the project. Today a contractor on the project severely damaged the barn. I am disgusted by what has occurred. A stop work order has been instituted. You can read my statement here.

Of course, I live in Purcellville, and I’ve been following along with the Cole Farm project for months. The site drawings of how they were going to relocate the barn and silo to another portion of the property, and incorporate them into the architectural designs for the project, were stunning. I grabbed my camera and jumped into the car. Here’s what the barn and silo look like, as of today at 3:45 pm:

I spoke with my husband, who drove past the project around 8:45 this morning on his way to Leesburg, and he said at that time it looked like they were attempting to take the side boards off with a backhoe bucket (forgive me if I am getting my construction terminology wrong). He said he didn’t actually see them take any boards off, but that’s what he thought was happening. That doesn’t exactly sound like they were trying to preserve the boards, but perhaps he was mistaken in what he saw.

According to Mayor Lazaro’s statement:

The Town has issued a stop work order until such time the developer provides a plan as to how best salvage the damaged materials and utilize them (and other period materials if necessary) as part of a structure similar in size and style. We will take every legal avenue necessary to ensure what was told to the public and approved by the Council is adhered to.

I’ll keep you posted as I hear more. I hope this was an accident, and not deliberate. How very disappointing.


Update, 3/29, 7 a.m.: Local commercial real estate site put a post out late yesterday that included a letter of apology from the developer. They contend they are “sincerely sorry” and are “committed to delivering a quality project to its tenants and this community.” From the news reports I’ve read, it sounds like the project manager rushed out from DC when he heard what was happening, and that the two man crew that was in place at the time took it upon themselves to start taking the barn down without knowledge of the higher ups on the project. No demolition permit had been issued (obviously), and some plans had been made to release a plan to the public first on how the buildings were to be moved, so it’s quite possible this was a mistake by the crew that was there. Mayor Lazaro has said they are fining the developer $1,000 a day until this is rectified. I’ll post more as I learn more. ~H.

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19 Responses to “Cole Farm Barn Damaged, Work Stopped”

  • Cindy McAlister
    Written on

    Mayor Lazaro,

    There is no way they sell this as a mistake. How do you possibly get this far in a destruction of a building that certainly, anyone with half a brain, would know it was staying on site. The house was standing and the barn was standing while everything else was devastated around it. They are true idiots and anyone who buys their story is just as much so.

    It was a silly plan to begin with . . . bring in one more grocery store to see which one couldn’t survive (Giant or Bloom). Add to traffic congestion in Purcellville, and the only thing residents could do was to have a new center that “looks” historic. Now they tear down the barn?

    What a debacle!


    Cindy McAlister

  • carrie s
    Written on

    this is atrocious! this is obviousley not an accident “by a backhow backing into the barn”. how stupid do developers think we are. they were taring it down on purpose because they dont care. i am a huge historic preservation nut and this breaks my heart.

  • Rodney Adachi
    Written on

    I passed the barn at 9am and could not believe my eyes as they were peeling off the roof. No attempt to salvage was being made.

    This history property is poorly managed. This may have been a secretly planned demo pretending like some ‘accident’ occurred. If a back hoe ran into the barn, how much damage could have occurred and why didn’t they stop work then. We citizens aren’t going to believe that a tractor caused the barn to fall down.

    I believe the Town has every right to suit the developer for a lot more than $1000 per day. If anyone remembers when the old shopping center was built where Twigs is now, the trees were supposed to be saved, but the contractors went against the plans and cut them down anyway.

    What happened today was criminal. Loudoun County is suffering as builders continue to rip up the farms and do as they please. Why can’t we develop our County like Reston and Columbia, Md did? Lack of foresight and respect for nature I suspect. Arthur Godfrey, the Coles, Mr Raflo and so many others are shedding tears in heaven.

  • This is a symbol of the disregard and destruction that has been on going

    for years in dear old Loudoun County.

    I can’t stand the heartbreak and will be so glad to finally get away from here.

  • April Athey
    Written on

    I was very upset to see all the tree’s taken down. I do not believe they needed to take all of those tree’s down. This was no accident to the barn. Seem’s like some people on the job do not know what the plan’s were or it’s people who do not care, it’s just disrespectful.

    Is there so much greed that they think they can MAKE an accident to work faster, pay fines and get the barn moved faster with new materials? There is no way this was an accident. This makes me mad to see what they have done.

    I also wonder why if they are trying to preserve everything why has the window of the house up stairs been open all winter?

  • Yvonne
    Written on

    Don’t be naive. Lazaro knows exactly what is being done and doesn’t care. Look at the bull he served about the new high school and people believed it. Tree city? Ha ha. Trees are the last thing he worries about. Too many old farts and ignorants in P’ville to do anything about it. I just wish I could vote the guy out but I have no vote because I don’t live in the town.

  • Thanks to the “powers that be”, the beautiful and fertile lands of Loudoun are ruined
    forever with dumb, ugly sprawl.

    Cole farm was one of the prettiest sights in Pville. Now it’s a trash heap.
    Even when they’ve slapped some lipstick on that corpse, it will still stink.
    The only reason they’re ‘preserving’ it is to turn it into yet another effin’ shopping mall,
    for all the shoppers pouring in, with all their gas guzzling cars.
    Consume, consume, consume.
    Welcome to the American Dream. But who is busy dreaming up this nightmare for us?
    America is no longer a nation of production, but of consumption and it’s killing us
    in more ways than one.

  • Jim Silcott
    Written on

    “Hey, what are we doing today?”
    “Oh… I don’t know.”
    “Let’s go ahead and tear this barn down!”
    “Okay, that sounds good.”

    It took how many years for Harris Teeter and Bob Lazarro to accomplish this?
    Just tear it down Crooked Run too. Pave it all. Then, we can erect a statue of Lazarro in the traffic circle.
    Good work! Did any of you REALLY think it was going to go any other way??? Seriously…

  • Sarah H.
    Written on

    Does anyone go to the Town meetings?? Where was everyone that didn’t want this center?? Miscommunication does happen that create mistakes. I guess the owners of Coles farm should have never sold their property.

  • Jennifer C.
    Written on

    “Cole Farm was one of the prettiest sites in Purcellville”? Really? It had charm but it was in complete disrepair and was hidden by overgrowth. Is that what we want here in Western Loudoun? Abandoned buildings unkempt and uncared for? I’ll agree that urban sprawl is also not the preferred way to go but to think that we can stop growth in all ways is a ridiculous and blinded attitude. Growth will come and mistakes will be made. If you didn’t take the time to voice your opinion before the project began or even during the town elections (because Bob Lazaro is who said he was going to be when he ran for office) then please do not cry outrage when you find yourself disappointed by the reality that is now Western Loudoun. And, by the way, it is still beautiful and there are people who care about the way it grows. I believe Mayor Lazaro is one of those people. Please don’t start finger pointing unless you know for sure where to point because that’s just a catalyst for gossip and untruths.

  • John
    Written on

    Clearing limits are always marked with white tape (even trees and buildings being saved). Both developer and Town officials are to blame for this mistake if the barn was to be saved or moved.

    On a side note….Cmon Now…This is Progress! Which would everyone rather….years and years of recession or to move on with people willing to invest money into developing land, providing jobs, and giving a boost to the economy? I grew up here and am quite glad to see more than the 3 regular restaurants and stores to go to in town.

    If you wanted Country, you shouldn’t move to the County that’s been in the top 10 in the nation for development for the last decade!

  • admin
    Written on

    This is Heather, the author of this blog. I have ‘unapproved’ several comments here that I felt were not constructive and not of the tone I want this blog to have. I am all for open discussion, but not for hostile attacks. I have stopped reading the comments section at the Times Mirror because it is unmoderated, and all manner of nastiness is allowed there. I’d like my blog to be a place where we can exchange ideas and information without singling out others for negativity and attack. Yes, everyone has the freedom to express their opinions, but you can find another forum to do that on if that is the type of commentary you wish to share.

  • Ref
    Written on

    “If you didn’t take the time to voice your opinion before the project began or even during the town elections (because Bob Lazaro is who said he was going to be when he ran for office) then please do not cry outrage when you find yourself disappointed by the reality that is now Western Loudoun.”

    I beg to differ. Bob Lazaro once spoke out against the imminent need to destroy Crooked Run Orchard for the Southern Collector Road. Mayor Bob has also run as a “fiscal conservative” but at the same time worked out sweetheart land deals with his own church. He led the town to a deal that overpaid his own church several hundred-thousand dollars for a building that still needs hundreds of thousands more to meet code. Mayor Bob has run on themes of intelligent and balanced growth, yet on his watch an additional grocery store is approved on the edge of town, when we already have two. Now he’s going to open up the SCR to more commercial and retail development, when the businesses in the center of town struggle to stay afloat. This is not the management of the Bob Lazaro that came to notice as a major proponent of Catoctin County and balanced growth. The man is a political chameleon.

    He wants to be everything to everyone, but this barn debacle is symbolic of how little he cares about what’s important to Purcellville and western Loudoun. These new measures – the restoration plan, the mandated SHPO consultation – are things that should have been mandated before the proffers were even approved. The current town council is chasing prosperity-by-development to try to grow themselves out of the terrible budget situation they’ve created. It’s the exact same thing at the county level, and continuing this nonsense is a recipe for higher taxes, environmental degradation, and the loss of what little is remaining of Purcellville’s charm.

  • Maureen
    Written on

    Heather than you for moderating your web site. I stopped reading the Loudoun Times blog as I found the personal attacks exceptionally disturbing and unprofessional. I don’t need to be upset by nastiness when seeking information on current events. Was reading of the barn as filling in former resident of the year’s highlights. Well done site! Thank you!

  • admin
    Written on

    Thank you, Maureen! You made my day! Glad that you are enjoying the site, please stop by anytime. 🙂

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Michael and Heather Elias are full time real estate professionals and licensed REALTORS at Century 21 Redwood Realty. They sincerely hope you enjoy reading this blog, and would love the opportunity to work with you.

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