Envisioned mainly by farmer-turned-real estate agent, Henry J. Kintz, and laid out with the help of newspaper editor and real estate investor James A. Clark, the Colonial Beach Commercial Historic District was platted in 1882 as the business center of a fully planned resort along the Potomac River in Westmoreland County—seeking to attract residents of Washington D.C. Incorporated by the General Assembly in 1892, Colonial Beach’s origins distinguishes it from other Chesapeake Bay resorts of the era, which developed in piecemeal, with a variety of business interests separately responsible for steamboat wharves, amusement parks, large hotels, and summer cottages as well as permanent residential areas. The town plan provided for a large and prominent site incorporating a low rise near the Potomac River reserved for a hotel, as well as river- and bay-side drives, parks, and main streets reaching the beach area from the main county road. Several of the guest accommodations built as part of the resort community still stand in the historic district, as well as stores, shops, and other businesses. The oldest extant building is an 1875 house associated with White Point Farm, the largest parcel incorporated into the town’s boundaries. The Colonial Beach Commercial Historic District’s diverse collection of 81 contributing vernacular or high-style commercial or residential buildings represent the whole of its nearly century-long period of significance—circa 1875 to 1970—and embody major trends in waterside resort community development and architecture from the late 1800s through the 20th century. Compared to similar waterfront resort communities in Virginia, the district’s level of preservation overall remains moderate to strong.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark