Old Waod/Off the Rails

This is one of several village buildings that look older than they actually are. A “1769” inscription, installed in jest by the original owner George Bentley, fooled visitors who marveled at the house’s “fine condition” for such an “old house.” Actually Bentley constructed it two centuries later than 1769, using discarded railroad ties from the defunct Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, hence the playful name. According to a newspaper account at the time, Bentley called it “Old Waod,” pronounced “Old Wood.” The current owners, in keeping with the whimsy of the “Old Waod” name, have dubbed it “Off the Rails.”

Mr. and Mrs. Bentley came to Waterford in the 1940s and raised a family, soon becoming active and loyal members of the non-profit Waterford Foundation. They were tireless workers each year at the annual Waterford Homes Tour and Craft Exhibit, and both served on the Board of Directors. Ruth Bentley wrote a weekly column about Waterford for the Loudoun Times-Mirror through the 1960s. Both worked on other houses they purchased in the village, all the while commuting to Washington, D.C. to work. These houses included their residence, the Hough House at 40205 Main Street, the Lloyd Curtis house on the Big Hill, and the Weaver’s Cottage on Water Street.

This log cabin originally served as storage space for the Bentley’s home on the hill above, but was converted into a home beginning in 1992, and the lower lot was made a separate parcel in 1997. The land on which it is built had belonged to the extensive Hough family who dominated village history—off and on—from this lot from 1801 until the 1940s.

Like many local properties, this lot features extensive stonework which is credited to the late village stonemason Norman Weatherholtz. There are two very large stone retaining walls behind the house, one of which helped to define a flat area for the log building, and the other of which divides the lower lot from the Hough House in back. In the mid-20th century, the Weatherholtz family lived at 40139 Main Street in the “Griffith-Gover House,” and more of Norman’s work can be seen along Main Street in that front garden wall.

The present owners of Old Waod/”Off the Rails” have recently refreshed the interior of the house, and also worked with Allen Kitselman, the original architect for the 1992 house conversion, as well as Rhoads Restoration and the Loudoun County Historic Review Committee to add a third floor with a bathroom and master bedroom. They have also tamed an especially steep and challenging backyard area with additional stonework and new garden areas.

Old Woad/Off the Rails is open through the courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Davis.