Historic Preservation

Fairfax County Historic Courthouse Building Older buildings and neighborhoods in Fairfax County are part of Fairfax County’s "heritage resources" and are economic and social investments that pay dividends. However, these investments can be lost if not protected or properly cared for.

This public stewardship responsibility has been recognized for over thirty years. In 1969, the Board of Supervisors amended the Zoning Ordinance to better protect those unique areas, sites, and buildings that are of special architectural, historic, or archaeological value to local residents and visitors. These heritage resources continue to be recognized as major contributors to the quality of life in Fairfax County and to its reputation as one of the major centers for cultural tourism in Virginia and the United States. This is not a new idea. In fact, the County’s heritage resources have been studied and preserved since the 1850s and, since the 1969 action by the Board of Supervisors, many have been recognized and protected by what are known as Historic Overlay Districts.

Related Information

  • Architectural Review Board (ARB)
    The ARB is responsible for public interest(s) as embodied in the Historic Overlay District Ordinance. Its job is to protect and enhance the resources that give a district its historic, architectural, or archaeological significance.  ARB Bylaws
  • Cemeteries of Fairfax County
  • Historic Overlay Districts
    Historic Overlay Districts provide regulations over and above the regular zoning protection.
  • Historic Overlay District Design Guidelines
    Each of the county's thirteen historic overlay districts has its own set of design guidelines.
  • History Commission
    The Fairfax County History Commission, established in 1969, helps identify, document, record, and preserve our county's historic past. The Commission is also responsible for listing properties on the County Inventory of Historic Sites. The Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) provides staff support to the History Commisssion and maintains it's website.
  • Inventory of Historic Sites
    A catalog of historically significant sites within Fairfax County.
  • Fairfax County History Commission Historical Roadside Markers
    This website includes county historical markers erected from February 1999, when the first marker was installed, through August 2009. Information on additional markers will be added to the website periodically.
  • Preservation Easements
    Conserving open space and historic resources through easements.
  • The Virginia Room
    The Fairfax County Public Library's Virginia Room maintains a collection rich in regional history and genealogy.
  • Resident Curator Program Implementation Study
    An implementation study supporting the establishment of a Resident Curator Program (RCP) in Fairfax County is complete. RCPs identify publicly-owned historic properties with no immediate or practical public use and through an open and competitive process, select outside parties with skills, resources and vision to rehabilitate a property in accordance with accepted preservation standards for historic buildings.  On November 18, 2014 at 5:00 p.m., the Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the County Code to establish a Resident Curator Program. The staff report describes the proposed amendment.

Additional Resources

The Zoning Ordinance is available in portable document format (PDF). In order to view PDF files, you will need Adobe Reader version 6.0 or greater installed on your computer.

Zoning Ordinance Article 7 (PDF) – Overlay District Regulations

Zoning Ordinance Appendix 1 (PDF) – Historic Overlay Districts


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