Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Update on the Langley Ordinary, Site of General George McCall's HQ

Back in February of this year I wrote about the Civil War-era sites in Langley, Virginia, not far from the entrance to the CIA.  Over the past year I've dedicated a lot of space on this blog to the happenings in Langley during the war.  The Pennsylvania Reserves established Camp Pierpont around Langley in October 1861 and remained there until March 1862.  The commander of the division, Brig. Gen. George A. McCall, set up his headquarters at the Langley Ordinary.  As part of my walking tour of Langley, I stopped to look at the Ordinary, which is located on private property, and discovered that a recent windstorm had blown two massive trees onto the roof of the building.  The damage looked extensive, and I was concerned that the structural integrity of the historic structure was in jeopardy.

The Langley Ordinary in February 2011, showing the damage caused by a winter wind storm.
A few months later, I received an email via Facebook from the wife of Scott Bates.  Scott works for Bartlett Tree Experts and wanted to know if he could use some of my material on the Langley Ordinary for his company newsletter.  I talked with Scott and learned that Bartlett had successfully removed the two trees from the roof of the Ordinary.  Scott informed me that the trees had crashed through the attic and the second floor ceiling.  When Scott went to inspect the damage, he saw graffiti that Union soldiers had scrawled on the ceiling when the property was used as a hospital. 

Close-up of view of one of the fallen trees (courtesy of Scott Bates).
An all-terrain crane on the site of the Langley Ordinary.  The extensive damage to the roof can be seen in this photograph (courtesy of Scott Bates).
Scott and his crew faced a daunting challenge in removing the trees without further damaging the Langley Ordinary.  The team even created a gravel road to bring an all-terrain crane onto the property for the project.  After five days, the work was completed.  However, I still wondered what would become of the building.

Renovated front of the Langley Ordinary.

The renovated Langley Ordinary from across Georgetown Pike (VA-193).  The repaired section of the roof is clearly visible from this view.
A few months later, I nearly wrecked my car when I saw the renovated Langley Ordinary.  The new owners, who purchased the home from the Potomac School, have repaired the roof.  They also removed or repainted the yellow siding and took off the shutters.  I have not yet seen photographs or prints of the Langley Ordinary during the 19th century, so I am unsure how faithful the renovations are to the original look.  At the very least, the overall structure of the historic property has remained the same as before this past winter's damage.  No word on what has become of the graffiti on the interior.  The outcome I most feared, however, never came to pass, and this historic property still stands as a testament to the Civil War history of Langley.


Walk Forrest Walk said...

Very nice story. As Roger Ebert would say, " A Big Thumbs Up"

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks! I was certainly glad to see that the Ordinary was still standing.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I am the owner of the Langley Ordinary. I spent an enormous amount of time trying to purchase the house in order to save it. I am working extensively to preserve the historic structure as the house has been neglected for years as well as the severe tree damage. Due to the 6' wide tree collapsing through the attic, 2nd floor and 1st floor, a large portion of the signatures were damaged however I have preserved a large horse hair plaster wall that has approx. 29+ signatures still intact . My goal is to move in as soon as it is safe and the interior renovations are complete. Thank you for all that you do. I hope the Langley Ordinary stands for another 160 years. Could you please post your e-mail address so I can contact you directly?

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks so much for the insights, and I am happy that you are enjoying the blog. My other readers and I are surely glad to see that the Langley Ordinary is in such good hands! Please feel free to contact me at ronbaum@yahoo.com.