Marc and Janna Leepson
Marc Leepson and his wife, Janna, were living with their two young children on her family’s farm as fifth generation residents in Woodbridge, Virginia. Janna’s grandfather, G.C. Russell, bought the 219-acre farm in 1916 and it remained relatively isolated for many years – until Prince William County exploded with development in the 1960s. Once a quiet and serene location, the area turned loud and bustling in a matter of a few years. In fact, by the early 1980s, some 30,000 cars a day passed right in front of the Leepsons’ front yard.
So the Leepsons reluctantly looked elsewhere to raise their family. Before they left, though, they ensured that the historic farmhouse on the property would stand forever. The farmhouse, which dates from before the Civil War, remains today and now serves as the home of Georgees Grill restaurant.
Marc and Janna landed on their current 65-acre property in Middleburg, Virginia in 1988. While the Leepsons felt that zoning in Loudoun County was relatively permanent, they understood that it could quickly change. Therefore, a conservation easement was something they investigated to help prevent the same type of development pressure they had experienced at their previous home. While their main reason for pursuing an easement was to preserve their land in perpetuity, the tax benefits were an additional bonus.
Back when Marc and Janna were searching for a land trust to work with, they learned that the Virginia Outdoors Foundation would not consider holding properties under 100 acres. After speaking with a friend in Arlington who works in estate planning, they were referred to NVCT. By September 2001, NVCT and The Land Trust of Virginia co-held an easement on the Leepson’s 65-acre land. This was just the second property that NVCT conserved in Loudoun County.
Today, Marc and Janna still live in their beautiful home in Middleburg. They raised both of their children there. Janna has an art studio in a small cottage on the property. Marc works as a journalist, historian, and author in his office in the house. He has written nine books on U.S. History, including Saving Monticello, Flag: An American Biography, and Lafayette: Idealist General, and is senior writer and Arts Editor of The VVA Veteran, the magazine published by Vietnam Veterans of America.
He finds his property to be a peaceful and creative outlet for his profession. “It always has been a nice sanctuary for us,” Marc said.
When asked what he would say to potential landowners considering placing their land into a conservation easement, he said, “It is a big commitment to put a property in easement in perpetuity, but it’s also a great benefit to the generations that come after.”