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Unplug at Purcellville’s Historic Springdale Village Inn

Unplug at Purcellville’s Historic Springdale Village Inn

Written by Diane Helentjaris | Photos by Gracie Withers

Springdale Village Inn, two miles south of Purcellville, ticks all the boxes for a charming B&B sojourn. It is beautiful, historic, and convenient to both transportation hubs and tourist delights. Washington, D.C., is within 60 miles. Dulles Airport and the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum are less than 40 miles away. Equestrian events, wineries, historic properties, antique shops, and an outlet mall are found even closer. 

Silas Redd describes the inn as “a comfortable, upscale type of situation … with lots of antiques, but we don’t want it to be a museum. We want you to sit on our couch, look at our china and dishes.” Each of the five bathrooms at the inn has a clawfoot tub.

“This is somewhere close to all destinations [visitors] want to go to and at the end of the day, can come to and really unwind. [It’s] an unplugged destination.”

Redd is, as he puts it, the “face of Springdale,” taking care of day-to-day operations for owner David Lohmann. Asked if he has a title, he confers in a whispered sidebar with Lohmann, and comes back: “Publicity Manager.” Redd also owns and operates the Purcellville vintage clothing store Nostalgia Boutique. He has a deep appreciation of things from bygone days, a passion that comes through in Springdale’s classic, traditional decor.

Enhancing its serenity are the gardens. “David has designed the garden. All season long as something is dying, something else is growing.” The garden is a mix of native Virginia plants interspersed with those typical of the 19th century. A small greenhouse on the property supports the inn’s needs. There is a florist on staff, who formerly worked at The White House.

Lohmann is no amateur gardener. He owns one of Loudoun’s most popular nurseries, Abernethy and Spencer, just a half-mile north of the inn. He studied ornamental horticulture at the Delaware College of Science and Agriculture in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He then spent 15 years in upstate New York as a dairy farmer, milking one hundred cows and farming a thousand acres. 

He now continues his dairy farming on a small scale at Springdale Valley Inn. Geese and ducks waddle about, chickens and guinea fowl peck their food. Peacocks show off. Lohmann keeps a half-dozen sweet-faced Jersey cows. He milks them at four every morning and again in the afternoon. The inn’s eggs star in its breakfasts. Excess eggs and shares in the raw milk are sold on-site by the honor system. Guests will also be greeted by a posse of English Labrador retrievers. The animals enhance the inn’s already bucolic aesthetic. 

However, life at the inn was not always so tranquil. Built in 1832, Samuel M. Janney opened it as a girls’ boarding school in 1839, where he served as principal. He and his wife both taught classes while continuing to use it as their home. Classes included such topics as astronomy, chemistry, botany, and rhetoric. Springdale Boarding School, considered by some to be the first girls’ boarding school on the East Coast and the first school in Loudoun County, had a secondary purpose. Janney, a Quaker, writer, and anti-slavery activist, believed education could be a tool to persuade students of the error of slaveholding. He advertised his school in both white and African American newspapers and welcomed girls of all religions. The girls’ school eventually closed and reopened as a coeducational school for Quaker boys and girls in 1855. 

According to oral history, supported by the abundance of alcoves and hiding spots in the inn, Janney sheltered enslaved people in their flight to the North. Springdale was a final stop on the Underground Railroad, as the Potomac River and freedom lay 16 miles to the north. 

Life as an abolitionist in the South carried risks. As a Pennsylvania Quaker Lydia Wierman noted after a visit to Loudoun in 1845, “We of the north know not what it is to live in the lion’s mouth.” Janney did. In 1849, he ended up accused by a Loudoun County grand jury of writing essays calculated “to incite persons of colour to make insurrection or rebellion.” After much legal wrangling, the matter was dropped. 

During the Civil War, Springdale served as a hospital for wounded and sick soldiers on both sides of the conflict. 

Janney was plugged in politically. At one time he carried a permit signed by President Abraham Lincoln which allowed him to pass into Union lines at Point of Rocks or Berlin (now Brunswick), Maryland. After the war, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him as a supervisor of Indian affairs and, for two years, he and his wife lived in Nebraska fulfilling those duties. 

In the 20th century, Springdale took on a more recreational role as a retreat. Sam Rayburn and Lyndon B. Johnson are said to have played poker in the parlor.

“Seventy-five to eighty percent of the visitors are coming for a family event,” Redd says. He explains that the inn has an associated property Ellmore Farm, a more casual venue which is popular with families. 
Today, the white two-story home welcomes visitors from around the world. Redd says his favorite part of his work is “the number of people who we come in contact with, from overseas, all over.… We know the history, but it’s always new for the guests. For them, it’s always exciting, and that is motivating for us.” ML

Both venues are available to visitors through Airbnb at

Springdale Village Inn
18348 Lincoln Road
Purcellville, VA 20132

For more information see

Published in the April 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.

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