Sterling, Virginia had been noted as being a highly active center of commercial endeavors in the 1800s. Railroad Avenue was the primary road in the area due to the booming railway. There were many commercial businesses that were constructed along this road, along with many enormous houses as well. This region was active in trying to draw in tourists as well as those interested in locations for new business ventures.
The US President by the name of James Buchanan stayed at the Sterling Hotel when visiting Sterling in the years of 1959 and 1860. There was the inclusion of a post office, which had been founded by the first postmaster by the name of Richard Havener.
Much of the commercial growth in Sterling resulted from those who resided in Washington DC who desired to escape to a more rural environment on the weekend. They would arrive by train. This created much competition among the business owners who hoped for the tourists to spend money at their businesses.
Sterling was highly desirable for the clean fresh air, gorgeous scenery, open space and terrific fishing opportunities. Then it is noted that the Sterling Grain Company was the first company to bring a particular type of industry to the region back in the year of 1908. Hard times fell upon Sterling when several businesses had to merge to survive and when many businesses even had to close in the early 1900s.
The strongest store to survive was the Sterling Mercantile Company, which has since closed. There was also a prosperous farm and lumber supply business. However, the onset of the usage of automobiles caused a downshift in the number of tourists who instead were seeking to go to the Blue Ridge Mountains, which meant they by passed the village. Then the Sterling train depot was destroyed by a fire in 1920. More bad fortune hit the area with the Great Depression. It is noted that a school house of two rooms was built in 1879 and served the students of the region until 1947. A new school was opened on a parcel of five acres. It has since closed, but the building is now used as a community center.
The Sterling United Methodist Church had been founded in 1875, where it met in a school house. The school house burnt to the ground in the year of 1879. Then there was the construction of a church building, which was in use until the year of 1983. Since then, a new building has been constructed for the church. As a result, the old church building now serves as offices and storage space on behalf of a landscape design agency.
Residents note that much has changed in the village. The village had experienced a decline in prosperity, but there shaping of the Church Road in regard to it being straightened and by-passing various buildings contributed to the economic growth of the region as more businesses were added to the newly reformed Church Road. In addition, the construction of the Dulles Airport impacted the growth of the region. The region is still quite rural and quaint. It is charming in its own right and is worthy of a visit as a historical village of Virginia.