History on a Small Scale Shown in Fairfax Virginia Home & Lifestyle
The history of the of Fairfax Virginia closely parallels the development of America as a whole. It is a tale about migration and home settlement with severe disruptions produced by the Civil War as well as from the effects caused by economic booms and the merging of new cultures with established heritage. Native Americans were first to come to Fairfax Virginia and later Colonial Fairfax was a settlement devoted to tobacco plantations.
Back then, the community was full of revolutionary ideas and depended on slave labor to function. The county court and church parish dominated politics in everyday life and dictated much of the lives of Fairfax settlers. By 1700, European farmers and landowners from the Tidewater region had migrated westward to the five million acre land grant owned by the aristocratic Fairfax family. By 1732, the Truro Parish was the organization that life revolved around.
Like the church in medieval eras, large plantation owners controlled the county courts that were charged with both administrative and judicial duties. County officials decided in 1798 to create a new court location that would better reflect development around Fairfax and on April 21, 1800, the first session was held at the new courthouse in the town of Providence. The Virginia Assembly established the town of Providence on 14 acres on January 14, 1805. The land surrounded the new courthouse, but locals referred to it as Fairfax Court House, and it was officially renamed in 1874.
18th Century Fairfax Virginia was blessed with two of the ablest political figures of the era: George Washington and George Mason both called Fairfax Virginia home. The pair wrote the Fairfax Resolves in 1774. This was a proclamation of colonists’ rights and it created change. By the end of the century, wheat had supplanted tobacco as the main crop of the Fairfax area.
Fairfax was also the scene of several noteworthy events during the Civil War. On June 1, 1861, the Confederacy suffered its first officer casualty at Fairfax Courthouse. Towards the end of 1862, Union forces led by Brigadier General Edwin H. Stought occupied the town. In a daring raid led by Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby Stoughton was captured in March of 1863 while he slept in a house owned by the Truro Episcopal Church.
Likewise in 1863, Antonio Ford, who grew up in the Ford Building on Bridge Road, was jailed as a southern spy after being charged with aiding J.E.B. Stuart. She fell in love with her jailer, Major Joseph C. Willard who had her released from prison after 7 months. The pair were married, and their son Joseph built Old Town Hall in 1900.
Among the gracious antebellum Fairfax Virginia homes in the historic district are the Joshua Gunnell House (c. 1830), the Truro Rectory (c 1835), and the Ford House (c. 1835). A number of buildings along Main St. date back to the late 19th and early 20th Century.
Today Fairfax Virginia is a place to discover the past and savor the present. Click here to learn more about the history of this Northern Virginia town.