Middleburg Community Center Established 1946
On May 18, 1946 a group of civic minded citizens came together to make Mrs. Howell E. Jackson’s dream of making Middleburg the social hub of Loudoun County and Fauquier County come to fruition.
With the help of the generous citizens of Middleburg, The Middleburg Community Center opened in January 1948. With a grand ball room, bowling alley and swimming pool as the main attractions the Middleburg Community Center hosted nearly 500 events including picnics, balls, bowling, swimming, movies, and tractor shows during its first full year of operation.
With more than two million people participating in the events over the years The Middleburg Community Center remains the community supported social hub it was intended to be, hosting a myriad of special private events, educational classes, meetings, fundraisers and community events.
Mrs. Howell E. Jackson
The dream of Mrs. Howell E. Jackson, of Middleburg’s Bull Run Stud Farm, was to provide the widely scattered citizens of Loudoun and Fauquier Counties a place for cultural and civic amenities enjoyed by those in more urban areas. While the town of Middleburg had only 606 citizens, due to its strategic location halfway between the county seats of Loudoun and Fauquier, Middleburg served as the commercial, agricultural, and social hub for a much larger constituency. The founding Certification of Incorporation states that the purpose is “to conduct a Community Center as a place of meeting for those engaged in all type of welfare work, education, recreation and any and all activities of a similar character; (and) to encourage community spirit and civic work.” The bevy of activity over the next few years shows that “community spirit and civic work” were already well underway in Middleburg.
Architectural renderings were prepared, reviewed, and revised by the late local architect William B. Dew, Jr. Construction commenced on the site of Mrs. D.N. Lee’s stables at 300 West Washington Street, but the project was not without challenges as building costs exceeded the original estimate, sky rocketing from $.50 to $.60 per cubic foot. In the summer of 1947, questionnaires catalogued the activities of interest to 459 families a total of 1,757 persons from Haymarket to The Plains, and from Aldie to Bluemont. They wanted movies, theater, dancing, bowling, swimming, baseball, lectures and entertainment, cooking classes, arts and crafts, playgrounds, a place for organizations to meet and for people to relax. Between 1946 and 1949, $470,499.37 was raised from generous benefactors, such as the Jacksons and from individual gifts of $1.00 and up.
In its first full year of operation, the Middleburg Community Center was the site of events, ranging from conferences, exhibits, concerts and meetings. The bowling alley and swimming pool were the hub of winter and summer social life. Nearly 71,000 participants engaged in activities at the Community Center in 1949 alone, while the town’s population still hovered just over 600. By the end of 1999, the cumulative number of the Community Center visitors reached 2,742,032, while the town population remained comfortably below 700. Not all of these visitors came for rest and relaxation. Over the years the Middleburg Community Center has occasionally sheltered those temporarily dislodged from their homes by acts of nature, such as the severe flooding of 1972.
The Center continues to be governed by a rotating volunteer Board of Directors today, who give generously of their time and energy. While revenue-generating events produce some operating income, it is the gifts of local citizens, organizations, and businesses that sustain the Center. Generous community support has provided more than $2,000,000 over the years, almost one dollar for each of the participants in Community Center Events.
When you next pass by the graceful edifice at 300 W. Washington Street, take pause to reflect on what the Middleburg Community Center represents. It is a monument to all of those who conceived, created, and continue to maintain and manage this stronghold of community spirit, the citizens of Middleburg and its surrounding countryside, past, present and future.