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In 1922, the Thomas Balch Library was dedicated by his sons, Edwin Swift Balch and Thomas Willing Balch, who had donated $10,000 to build a public library in their father's memory to be located in the town of his birth, Leesburg, Virginia. In recognition of the lifelong love of history which Thomas Balch maintained, the library was dedicated with a special requirement-that it maintain and foster a section dedicated to local history.
Thomas Balch was born in Leesburg, the son of Judge Lewis P. Balch and Elizabeth Weaver. At age 5, he moved with his family to Frederick, Maryland, and later to Philadelphia. A noted attorney of his day, Mr. Balch was also a keen student of history throughout his life, becoming a corresponding member of numerous historical societies. He earned his own niche in history at the close of the American Civil War when his plan for resolution of the famous "Alabama Claims" resulted in a $15 million settlement for the United States against Great Britain, and earned him the title of "Father of International Arbitration."

The Georgian Revival library building was designed by the noted Washington Architect, Waddy Wood. Wood is known for the design of the Woodrow Wilson House and Federal Triangle. In May 2001, a rededication ceremony was held to commemorate the new addition and renovation of the library. The Thomas Balch Advisory Commission and the Town of Leesburg chose Bowie Gridley Architects firm of Washington, DC.

A plaque at Thomas Balch Library to Bowie Gridley reads: "Washington Chapter, The American Institute of Architects Merit Award "Outstanding Achievement in Historic Resources," Thomas Balch Library, November 9, 2002. Bowie Gridley Architects." The certificate hangs in the foyer at Balch.

Bowie Gridley Architects' award-winning designs are characterized by contextually-based design solutions that focus and reflect the needs and goals of each institution. Recent clients include Georgetown University, Sidwell Friends School, Arlington Public Schools, St John's Church at Lafayette Square and the Metropolitan Club of Washington.

Read about the recent room dedications at Balch Library!

Thomas Balch Library Staff

Library Director
Alexandra S. Gressitt

Library Archives Specialist
Elizabeth E. Preston

Library Assistant
Mary Fishback

Part Time Staff:
John Berfield
Laura Christiansen
Lisa DeZarn
Alyssa Fisher
Bryan Fisher
Shannon Fuller
Robert Goldberg
Pam Gottfried
Trina Ihle
Mary Pender

Thomas Balch Advisory Commission

Chair: Francis R. Fera
Vice Chair: James H. Hershman

Thomas Balch Library Advisory Commission consists of seven citizen members appointed by Leesburg Town Council and chosen for their interest in the library; one representative from the Town of Leesburg Council and one representative from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. Members may include historians, genealogists, and business leaders. All serve as advisors to the library director on collection development and policies and report to Town Council about their activities. They help publicize Thomas Balch Library, sponsor the annual Loudoun History Awards, an annual award for the Loudoun County Public School Social Science Fair, and work with Friends of the Thomas Balch Library, Inc., to promote and support programs and collections.

James A. Morgan, III
James P. Roberts
Joan G Rokus
Martha Schonberger
Lou Etta Watkins

Leesburg Town Council Representative to the Commission:
Thomas S. Dunn, II

Thomas Balch Representative:
Alexandra S. Gressitt
, Library Director

Friends Representative:
Ron Rust



Contact the Thomas Balch Library
Address: 208 West Market Street
Leesburg, Virginia 20176
Phone: (703) 737-7195

Library Hours
Mon/Thurs/Fri - 10am to 5pm
Tuesday - 10am to 8pm
Wednesday - 2pm to 8pm
Saturday - 11am to 4pm
Sunday - 1pm to 5pm
To visit the Thomas Balch Library website, please go to this link:

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