15512 Second Street
Loudoun entrepreneur, miller and banker Robert Braden (1765-1827) appears to have purchased the lot on which this house stands about 1820; the house was built soon afterward of brick fired in the meadows behind the houses across the street.
Later in the nineteenth century, the house was bought by Decatur H. “Dick” Vandevanter, mayor of Waterford from 1891-1892. Vandevanter, a son-in-law of Lewis Neal Hough, inherited his chair manufactory and undertaking establishment next door. Dick was a forward-thinking man. He owned one of the first automobiles in Waterford and caught the notice of Leesburg’s Washingtonian-Mirror in August 1903 when he had “fixtures placed in his residence for heating the same with hot water.”
The house today reflects a variety of architectural styles from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Federal-style house with brick-on-stone foundation, Flemish bond and closers on the front façade and five-course common bond on all other sides, is common to the area. The Victorian style wrap-around porch and the south bay window were added by local builder “Eb” Divine in 1913. A portion of the side porch was later enclosed and used as a medical office by Dr. Robert Caldwell, one of Waterford’s country doctors. The beaded woodwork in the kitchen, random width flooring upstairs and narrow winding staircases are typical of many Waterford homes.
Typical, too, are the stories of its various residents, including Rebecca K. Williams, who acquired the house around 1842. On a Sunday in September 1863, in wartime Waterford, Quaker Williams noted in her diary, “…soldiers in all directions riding and walking, but none have been in this morn for food; to meeting [at Fairfax Meetinghouse], when we came home found the cellar had been broken open, butter & pies taken. Quite a disappointment & provocation.…”
The Braden House is open through the courtesy of Peggy and David Bednarik.