The stone portion of the Janney-Means House is one of the oldest structures in Waterford. Tradition holds that it was built by Mahlon Janney, son of the village founder, around 1762.
An early owner, Philadelphia Quaker Asa Moore, was one of the village’s wealthier men. He added the brick wing in about 1800 and owned the tannery that filled most of the meadow in front of his house. On his death in 1823, his son-in-law Samuel Harris inherited the residence. A physician, he had his office in a stone wing on the north end that was later removed.
In 1850, Samuel C. Means, an enterprising young miller newly arrived in the village, bought the house from Dr. Harris; he served as mayor of Waterford in 1853. Though not a Quaker himself, Means married Quaker neighbor Rachel Bond in December 1855; by publicly acknowledging her “marrying out of unity” a month later, Rachel was allowed to remain a member of the Society of Friends, even after her husband’s later military leadership.
Early in the Civil War, Means rejected Confederate overtures to join the Cause (in which one of his brothers served and died). He was later personally commissioned a captain in the Union Army by Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, and raised a cavalry company, the Independent Loudoun Virginia Rangers, one of the only organized units of Virginians to fight for the Union; he was a persistent thorn in the side of the Confederacy. The war bankrupted Means, who lies buried with other family members in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
A late 19th- and early 20th- century resident of the house, J. Elbert Divine, was the son of one of Means’s Rangers and one of Waterford’s most active builders in that period. “Eb’s” handiwork included wraparound porches seen on two village houses on Second Street but not this one—“Eb’s porch” was removed by a subsequent owner. More recently the house has been painstakingly restored to its early 19th century appearance.
The Janney-Means House is open through the courtesy of Ann Belland.