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Fill This Space: Old Bowman Distillery

by Karen Goff July 14, 2014 at 4:32 pm 17 Comments

Bowman House/Photo by Reston 2020 via Flickr

Reston may be a 50-year-old “new town,” but there is one building that dates back to the days of yore.

The Bowman Distillery on Old Reston Avenue has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1999. It has been empty much longer.

The structure was built in 1890, and in addition to the place they made Virginia Gentleman whiskey, the building also served as the long-ago Wiehle Town Hall and a church.

The distillery has gone through several rezoning applications over the years. In 1989, after Bowman Distillery moved  operations to Fredericksburg, the building was rezoned as part of a larger mixed-use development. Some of that development happened on parts of the original 32-acre property, but the historic building remains untouched.

In 1998, it was sold to an owner who planned to build a Bed and Breakfast or condo. It sold again in 2010 for $540,000.

With its historic bones and close proximity to the W & OD Trail and Reston Town Center, surely someone has a vision for the property. What is yours? Tell us in the comments.

Photo: Bowman Distillery/File photo by Reston 2020

  • CMS

    Microbrewery!

  • John F Schaller

    Coffee shop, with drinks and foods for runners and bikers to refuel on as well.

  • CSEM

    A part of Reston’s (aka the Bowman Family Farm’s) history…maintain its historical element.

  • kcowing

    When the Reston Town Center Metro opens that will be a prime location.

  • South reston gal

    Microbrewery/coffee house

  • .

    Since there is no parking there, and only limited parking nearby (e.g. at the OD trail), the commercial possibilities seem limited.

  • Frogger

    Speakeasy!

  • Scott W.

    Hooters!

  • Heh

    The building looks like:
    1. Where the serial killer keeps his well-stocked dungeon

    2. Group House — Blair Witch upstairs, vampires in the basement
    3. Democratic Party headquarters
    4. All of the above

  • Mason

    This building is a very tough piece of property to develop. There is not enough space for parking for most commercial uses. The building itself will not meet code in any way, shape or form, so whatever is done with the building will have to be a building within the existing building, which will be prohibitively expensive. A small condo or detached home would be nice, but again very expensive to build. I am not sure that there is a commercial project that would not require demolishing the building in order to make money.

    When GRACE owned the property they were going to turn it into a gallery but, even after receiving the land as a gift, they could not justify the cost of rehabbing that building.

  • Mason

    This site is a very tough piece of property to develop. There is not enough space for parking for most commercial uses. The building itself will not meet code in any way, shape or form, so whatever is done with the building will have to be a building within the existing building, which will be prohibitively expensive. A small condo or detached home would be nice, but again very expensive to build. I am not sure that there is a commercial project that would not require demolishing the building in order to make money.

    When GRACE owned the property they were going to turn it into a gallery but, even after receiving the land as a gift, they could not justify the cost of rehabbing that building.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Rest stop for the W&OD, with as much parking as they can fit in for a few locals to stop en route to things. Bathrooms, water fountains, first-aid station, bike-repair basics, and a few snacks (either a small snack bar or machines). Local maps (preferably free), with QR codes for additional info on nearby sites of interest. The rest: a museum. Make a deal with the gas station/repair stop or other adjacent properties to use some of their parking or add a few spots on their land. Add bike racks down at the W&OD.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Query: could an UNDERGROUND parking lot be dug beneath it/under the road/nearby?

  • Fer Shure

    a walk-in, drive through bicycle co op.

  • Constance (Connie) Hartke

    I thought it would be fun to share this history of the place: http://www.restonian.org/2008/06/reston-real-estate-ole-distillerys-up.html.

    • Karen Goff

      Connie. Pretty much the same info is in the article posted here.

  • TJ Morton

    Who owns it and how can I contact them?

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