At the intersection of roads leading to Marshall and Warrenton, to Unison and Bluemont, and the turnpikes to Winchester and Alexandria, sits the tiny crossroads village of Rector’s Crossroads, known as “Atoka” since 1893.
It now stands as an historical treasure and a gem of 19th century vernacular Virginia architecture, nestled in a perfect piece of rolling green landscape.
But keeping it that way hasn’t been easy.
There’s been a store at the crossroads since the 1830s. But in 1988 it was seen as the perfect location for a used car lot.
Using the ca. 1801 Caleb Rector House as the car lot office–a place to buy a Buick or a Benz with a few Ranger legends tossed in to grease the finance office doings—it was a great way to make the best of location, location, location.
Had it remained so, the treasure that is now “Atoka” would no doubt would have become a semi-abandoned relic of the worst of the Commonwealth’s roadside architecture: a sad store-deli with gas, perhaps a discount store, and a used car lot.
Happily, with Linda Newton, a Rector family descendant, and her husband Bob, a different vision emerged.
Working with neighbors and other interested families in the Atoka area, Linda proposed preserving “historic” Atoka.
Leave the store, she proposed, for that is essential to the history of the crossroads, but restore the other buildings so that people could see and experience its history
The Newtons joined with their neighbors to form The Atoka Preservation Society (TAPS) in 1988.
The Caleb Rector House was preserved first, its exterior stabilized. In the parlor of the Rector house, now the headquarter of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, John Singleton Mosby’s partisan rangers were awarded their official designation as the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry on June 10, 1863.
Later, the ancient log Angus Brown House was preserved.
TAPS then leased space in each structure to local preservation and conservation-aimed non-profits, a form of adaptive re-use that not only provided affordable office space to the non profits, but also helped preserve the properties themselves.
The Mosby Heritage Area Association was TAPS first tenant, happy to use a building associated with their namesake.
They soon were joined by the Goose Creek Association, the Citizens Association for Route 50, the Land Trust of Virginia, and the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, now spread out over the two buildings.
After a quarter century of fundraising and restoration and stabilization efforts, the Atoka Preservation Society decided that their mission was complete by the summer of 2014.
To keep these historic structures in good hands, they turned to the Mosby Heritage Area Association, which became the new steward and manager of their historic properties.
In January 2015, the Rector House was turned over to MHAA, and the Angus Brown House followed in early fall.
On November 4, the Mosby Heritage Area Association gathered with members of TAPS at Donald and Pat Brennan’s historic Llangollen near Upperville to honor the accomplishment of the Atoka preservation organization and to toast the future of the historic crossroads village under MHAA’s management.
Linda Newton, of course, was there, with the outgoing President of TAPS, Leslie Van Sant. Glasses were raised to them with full hearts.
The Mosby Heritage Area Association, created in 1995 with the heritage area, works to impress the need for stewardship in the five county region. Their watchword remains “Preservation through Education”.