Fairfax County

Fairfax County, highlighted in map of Virginia

Conserving Mason Neck

The Fairfax Grant

The Water War Between Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church

Fairfax County, 1737
Fairfax County in 1747 (note boundary is Difficult Run)
Source: Library of Congress, A survey of the northern neck of Virginia, being the lands belonging to the Rt. Honourable Thomas Lord Fairfax Baron Cameron, bounded by & within the Bay of Chesapoyocke and between the rivers
Rappahannock and Potowmack:With the courses of the rivers Rappahannock and Potowmack, in Virginia, as surveyed according to order in the years 1736 & 1737

Great Falls area, 1864
Great Falls area, 1864
Source: Library of Congress, A map of Fairfax County, and parts of Loudoun and Prince William Counties, Va., and the District of Columbia

Fairfax County in 1827
Fairfax County in 1827
Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, A Map of the State of Virginia (Herman BŲˇe, 1827)

the first (1742) courthouse for Fairfax County was located at Tysons, as recorded on a Civil War map almost 120 years later
the first (1742) courthouse for Fairfax County was located at Tysons, as recorded on a Civil War map almost 120 years later
Source: Library of Congress, The National lines before Washington (published in the New York Times, 1861)

Tysons in 1894
Tysons in 1894
Source: Library of Congress, The vicinity of Washington, D.C. (by G. M. Hopkins, 1894)

Merrifield/Mosaic District in 1894
Merrifield/Mosaic District in 1894
Source: Library of Congress, The vicinity of Washington, D.C. (by G. M. Hopkins, 1894)

Vienna in 1878
Vienna in 1878
Source: Library of Congress, Atlas of fifteen miles around Washington (by G. M. Hopkins, 1878)

western Fairfax County in 1878
western Fairfax County in 1878
Source: Library of Congress, Atlas of fifteen miles around Washington (by G. M. Hopkins, 1878)

southern Fairfax County in 1878
southern Fairfax County in 1878
Source: Library of Congress, Atlas of fifteen miles around Washington (by G. M. Hopkins, 1878)

Mason Neck in 1878
Mason Neck in 1878
Source: Library of Congress, Atlas of fifteen miles around Washington (by G. M. Hopkins, 1878)

after George Washington's sister-in-law, Hannah Bushrod Washington, freed her slave West, he took the last name of Ford and settled in Gum Spring
after George Washington's sister-in-law, Hannah Bushrod Washington, freed her slave West, he took the last name of Ford and settled in Gum Spring
Source: Library of Congress, Atlas of fifteen miles around Washington (by G. M. Hopkins, 1878)

Fairfax County had to move its courthouse in 1800, when that portion with the courthouse and the port of Alexandria was transferred to the Federal government to become part of the District of Columbia. In 1799, the county purchased four acres on a hill in the middle of the reshaped county from Richard Ratcliffe. Fairfax County built its new brick courthouse on that hill.

Ratcliffe built a tavern ton accommodate people coming to court days, and sold lots. The General Assembly chartered the new town of Providence at the new courthouse in 1805. The town changed its name from Providence to Fairfax in 1874.

Fairfax County ended up acquiring 47.8 acres to build a jail and other administrative structures. When the Town of Fairfax became the independent City of Fairfax in 1961, the city's boundaries were drawn to omit the county's land around the old courthouse. It became a island of county-administered land surrounded by a separate jurisdiction.

In 1969, a 13-story office building was complete to house the expanding administrative offices for the fast-growing county. A new courthouse complex was constructed, along with Adult and Juvenile Detention Centers. The Historic Legato School was moved to the "island."

To accommodate the ancticipated growth in county offices, Fairfax acquired land west of the city and created a new government complex. The Board of Supervisors and most administrative offices moved to Government Center in 1992. The police, fire, and rescue agencies remained in the Massey Building, the 13-story tower that was named after the first county executive.1

A new headquarters for those agencies was completed at Government Center and opened in 2017. The county then proceded to plan the demolition of the Massey Building, which would not be cost-effective to rehabilitate. One supervisor joked at the dedication of the new public safety building in 2017:2

A few years ago when we were planning this building, we had a very legitimate concern [over] whether we could get the building done before the Massey Building collapsed in a cloud of asbestos-laden dust.


Source: Fairfax County

the old courthouse complex for Fairfax County is now a 47.8-acre island completely surrounded by the City of Fairfax
the old courthouse complex for Fairfax County is now a 47.8-acre island completely surrounded by the City of Fairfax
Source: Fairfax County, Massey Complex Master Plan Project

Lorton area, morphing over time
Source: Google Earth Engine

Links

References

1. "Massey Complex Master Plan Project," Fairfax County, https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/capital-projects/massey-complex-master-plan-project (last checked February 10, 2019)
2. "New Fairfax public-safety HQ allows for better teamwork, honors the past," Inside NOVA, October 30, 2017, https://www.insidenova.com/news/fairfax/new-fairfax-public-safety-hq-allows-for-better-teamwork-honors/article_e62c4a56-bbf2-11e7-a9ad-6fb21940d73b.html (last checked February 10, 2019)

Vienna Metro townhomes, built 2002
Townhomes at Vienna Metro Station, 2002


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