History of Fairfax, VA

History of Fairfax, VA


History of Fairfax, VAFairfax Virginia tells the real American story. A story of migration and early settlement, a story of Civil War followed by a major economic boom as if to wipe away the scars from the war, and a story of conserving ancient cultural heritage while at the same time embracing new and foreign cultures. Here’s a piece of the history of Fairfax, VA.


The earliest inhabitants of Fairfax were Native Americans who dwelled here towards the end of the Ice age; early 1700s. during its colonization, Fairfax gained a reputation as the place of revolutionary ideas, the land of tobacco plantations and a hub for black salve labor. Both everyday life and politics revolved around the county court and church parish. This era saw numerous European farmers move west from the Tidewater region to the aristocratic Fairfax Family land which extended over 5 million acres. The county court was controlled by the owners of large plantations. The change of location of the courthouse to Fairfax was the birth of this city, giving rise to its political as well as economic change.


In the 18th Century, Fairfax was home to some two well-known and notable political figures; George Mason and George Washington. These two individuals are responsible for writing the Fairfax Resolves (a proclamation of the rights of colonialists) together in 1774. By the end of this century, wheat had successfully replaced tobacco.  In January 1805, the ‘Town of Providence’ was established by the Virginia General Assembly. It surrounded the courthouse and sat on 14 acres of the Ratcliffe’s land. Travelers and locals preferred calling the area ‘Fairfax Court House’ and in 1874, the area was officially renamed, Fairfax.


During the Civil War, Fairfax experienced several noteworthy events. John Quincy Marr was killed at the Courthouse in 1861; he was the first confederacy’s officer casualty. In 1863, Antonia Ford was arrested after being accused of collaborating with the confederates and acting as a spy for J. E. B. Stuart. After falling in love with her jailer (Major Joseph C Willard), he released her after 7 months. They then got married and Joseph, their son built the Old Town Hall in the year 1900.


The Old Town Hall welcomed Fairfax into the 20th century; its classical and impressive revival façade increasing hopes for the town’s prosperity. The electric railway infused new vibrancy and life into the Fairfax. A brass band and baseball team were organized and from time to time the town headed down to the Old Town Hall to watch ‘moving’ pictures. By 1950, Fairfax had transformed into one of the most important Washington DC’s suburban community. Fairfax gained city status in 1861 and it developed even further as an urban city with a sense of community.


Today, Fairfax is a place that connects both the past and the present. The museum collections and oral history will give you a chance to rediscover the rich history of this city, while new technologies will give you a taste of what living in the present today is.