Barn to Feed Community Needs

Barn to Feed Community Needs

$5.5 million in renovations restores old Coton Barn at Lansdowne on the Potomac.

They're raising the roof of an old dairy barn at Lansdowne on the Potomac, but it won't be home to bellowing cows or squawking chickens. By summer 2003, the echoes of children splashing in an Olympic-size indoor pool will fill the air.

The original red Coton dairy barn, circa 1935, was in use up until the 1950s. It is one of several sites dating back to the 1700s located on property purchased by a consortium of four builders (Centex, Van Metre, Beazer and Brookfield) and preserved for future residents at Lansdowne on the Potomac.

"We did a cost analysis and began preparing for preservation efforts before it was mandated," said Leonard "Hobie" Mitchel, president of Lansdowne Community Development, LLC. "Of course it would have taken less time to tear down the barn and start fresh, but we needed to preserve it."

There were many issues to consider when preparing the building for renovation, including environmental concerns. Asbestos was in the paint on the roof. The original barn has rubble footings.

When it is completed, the new, two-story Potomac Club will house the 128-foot indoor pool addition, a fitness center, a snack bar and lounge, a children's activity room, an aerobic studio, teen center, conference rooms and a ballroom suitable for visiting concert performers or community events. The first floor will total 16,492 square feet and the second floor will feature 5,247 square feet.

Outside, there are plans for another pool and spa area, a tot lot, volleyball court and amphitheater. Mitchell is finalizing talks with the Bluemont Concert Series to bring in performers to the amphitheater when it is completed. Two faded outbuildings in disrepair, which will convert to concert buildings, stand in contrast to surrounding homes. Townhomes at Lansdowne range in price from around $320,000-$600,000 and single-family homes, from $400,000-$1,000,000.

"We're working with what we have," said Mitchell. "The same aspect that makes renovation such hard work, is the same aspect that makes it so rewarding."

CREWS HAVE BEEN working through the unusually cold winter to complete a two-year long effort. The men work with the aid of heaters strategically located and insulated clothing.

"There are daily obstacles," said Steven Hahn, Lansdowne community entitlements manager. "Because of the rubble footings, the building has to meet strict codes. The weather has played some role in meeting our projected completion date of Memorial Day. We make up for what we lose in time on the weekends."

The original low ceilings over the stall areas and high rafters inside the barn have been preserved. Huge trusses of Douglas Fir from British Columbia weighing approximately 7,100 pounds (3-1/2 tons) each, span the pool wing. The pegged trusses are assembled on site and placed at a rate of about two per day.

Efforts were made by the architect, Michael Oxman of Hillsboro, to maintain the barn's original look, including erecting a silo-like tower at the entry and consistent roof lines.

"The design for the building was done by charette," Oxman said, a designer of custom homes. "It's what the business world calls brainstorming. A number of interested parties got together in a room to develop a solution. That included the owners, a civil engineer, landscape architects ... we wanted to maintain the character of the barn with all of the additions and still meet the county requirements. It's the way I design all of my buildings." Oxman compares the Potomac Club design to a custom home, with individual rooms of varying size set aside for a variety of personal activities.

ARTIFACTS FOUND on the property have been collected and will be kept on display inside the community center. The Potomac Club will also house the homeowners association, which will oversee the property's relics.

Lansdowne on the Potomac nestles up against Lansdowne Resort, a parcel of Loudoun County real estate running alongside the Potomac River and Goose Creek. The original land grant to the upper portion of the current property was obtained by Thomas Lee, Esquire, of Westmoreland County, Va., in 1719. Over the years, the land has given rise to stately homes, a distillery, mining and farm operations. Lansdowne purchased the property in December 1999.

"We want all of the homeowners to enjoy the Potomac Club and share in the history of this place," said Mitchell. "We'll have a network of computers set up so the kids can play games with each other. The Potomac Club will be a place that even teens will enjoy."

The Lansdowne on the Potomac information center is located at 19112 Xerox Drive, Lansdowne. Call 703-726-0417.