Claude Moore Park is a unique treasure in eastern Loudoun County. The park’s 357 acres preserve outstanding natural beauty in the midst of a densely populated urban area. In addition, the park has a major county facility for natural history education, historic sites, and recreational facilities.
The Park’s History
The Claude Moore park property was granted to two families in 1729. In 1779, the park’s historic area, including the 1770s Lanesville house, was acquired by William Lane, whose descendants owned the property until Dr. Claude Moore purchased the property in 1941. Dr. Moore lived in Lanesville house until just prior to his death in 1991.
In 1975, Dr. Moore donated the property to the National Wildlife Federation with life estate. In 1986 the NWF sold the property to a developer. After Dr. Moore was unable to block the sale, a group of local citizens petitioned the county administrators to purchase the property. Voters approved a referendum, and in 1990, the County opened Claude Moore Park. Members of the original citizens group became the Friends of Claude Moore Park.
The park includes the only preserved section of the historic Vestal’s Gap Road, which followed an old Indian trail. This road was the primary route from Alexandria westward from the 1690s until the Leesburg Pike (Route 7) opened in 1825. Vestal’s Gap Road played prominent roles in Colonial America and in the French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812.
The original one-room Lanesville house was expanded, and in 1807 it opened as a post office and an ordinary (overnight tavern) for travelers. The ordinary remained in operation until the 1820s, when Leesburg Pike opened. The historic area also includes Civil War winter quarters and a signal station on Bridges Hill, and a restored schoolhouse from the 1880s. Lanesville house and the schoolhouse are opened monthly for tours.
Claude Moore Park Today
Today’s Claude Moore Park’s amenities include the Claude Moore Recreation and Community Center, sports fields, the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum, outdoor pavilions, Frogshackle Nature Center, and the Visitor Center. The park also includes over 11 miles of hiking trails and natural landscapes, including ponds, streams, forests, and fields. These are home to native wildlife, including deer and other small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, fish, insects, and more than 150 bird species.