Leesburg Public Art Itinerary
The town of Leesburg offers some inspiring public art. Excluding the final stop at the Rust Sanctuary, the suggested stops we provide here are all within a 1.5 mile walk, or 3 miles round-trip. On a nice day, put on your walking shoes and explore our public art and historic downtown.
The Rust Library is not a typical visitor destination, yet its foyer is graced by Joan Gardiner’s ceramic World Textile Mural which makes it worth a stop for those who appreciate art. Joan looked for unique patterns in textiles to create a patchwork of 495 images, each 8”x8”. The mural is 240”x132” in size. The library’s restrooms even feature her work – a tile frieze using images that show the town’s water supply as it leaves the Potomac River, flows through the water treatment plant, and enters the library. For the teen center, an 84”x48” tile wall depicts the life of A.V. Symington, whose generous donations made the expansion of Rust Library possible. Gardiner also tiled a 214”x132” wall for the children’s area that depicts owls to represent knowledge and the natural world. Each of the four meeting rooms has a nine-tile diamond-shaped mural of animals. And throughout the library, embedded in columns and walls, are six 5”x8” tiles with text and images depicting spelling lessons, library history, sunshine, and silverfish.
The nearby Union Cemetery was established in 1855. It predated three other Union cemeteries in Loudoun established at Hillsboro, Waterford, and Lovettsville. The cemetery contains the 1908 Union Chapel and several notable monuments, including a Confederate War Memorial at the north end of the site, and an imperfectly cut 30-foot-high granite column, allegedly designed for a Washington, DC public building, but rejected and brought to the cemetery in the 1890s.
The third and present Loudoun County courthouse was erected in 1895 in what is now the town’s historic downtown. It rises on four columns, has double doors, and is capped by a clock and bell housed in a belfry. In front of the courthouse stands a statue of a Confederate soldier. It was designed by F.S. Sievers, and dedicated to the courthouse in 1908. It serves as a memorial to the many Rebel soldiers who died fighting for the cause in which they believed.
A couple blocks away, at the home of George C. Marshall, Dodona Manor, there is a bronze statue of the general and diplomat who received the Nobel Peace Prize and owned the home from 1941 until his death in 1959.
Across the street is Mom’s Apple Pie, located in the pie-shaped intersection of Market and Loudoun streets. Do not pass by without trying a slice of heaven! We recommend the apple with the butter crumb topping.
Just down the hill you’ll find the 5-storey red and tan brick Loudoun County government building. Between the building and the parking garage, there is a courtyard with three sculptures you might not notice if you weren’t looking for them. "The Administrator" is in the shade of a tree between two holly bushes beside the parking lot. "Manta," a squat, impressionistic piece with a thick wing of metal curved around an industrial rod, and "Homage to Cats," a five-foot-high flat cat's head with big eyes and a fork nose, are also placed close by. The installation lacks plaques with the names of the pieces and their creators: Brian Kirk made "The Administrator;" Michael Clay, "Manta;" and Carmen Howell, "Homage." The artwork was originally displayed in Waterford at the home of Kerstin B. Pollack. When she moved to California, she donated the works to Loudoun County.
By now you’ve probably worked up an appetite. Within steps are many options serving various cuisines. If you’d like to keep within the art theme, two establishments come to mind. Just across the street is the Doner Bistro, which serves their popular German hand-held cuisine served from the perfectly named “Mighty Midget Kitchen,” a one-person aluminum structure that was built out of the fuselage of a World War II-era B-29 bomber, an artistic transformation, for sure. There is indoor and patio seating in a biergarten setting. Or, if rare, original 1920s French posters are more appealing to your artistic eye, then head back toward the county courthouse. Across the street is the Lightfoot Restaurant, one of Loudoun’s nine destination restaurants, which serves “modern American cuisine with an international twist” in an elegantly restored turn-of-the-century bank building.
Just on the other side of town you’ll find the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Rust Nature Sanctuary on 68 acres of meadows, forests, and ponds teaming with a variety of wildlife and plants. During a visit, you might encounter nesting songbirds from the tropics in the oak-hickory forest, a fox hunting in the meadow, or colorful dragonflies darting above the pond. The sanctuary is the recipient of a collection of artwork from the family of Roger Tory Peterson. Be sure to view this wonderful collection, located in the circa 1910 manor house. Outside, there is a sculpture garden featuring works by prominent local artists.