Fairfax County Historic Preservation and Heritage Resources



Older buildings and neighborhoods in Fairfax County are part of Fairfax County’s "heritage resources" and are economic and social investments that pay dividends.

Fairfax County has been inhabited for nearly twelve thousand years as evidenced by the many historic buildings and archaeological sites found throughout the county. These sites and buildings also tell the history of the built environment in the county, which includes Native American hunting camps and long-term settlements, the tidewater plantations of George Washington and George Mason, Civil and Spanish-American War campsites and training grounds, as well as the 20th century planned town of Reston and its 19th century counterpart Dunn Loring. Recording, preserving, and studying this evidence enriches the quality of life in Fairfax County by putting residents in touch with their heritage, providing residents and property owners with a sense of temporal stability and continuity,and instilling in both young and old a loyalty and commitment to place and community. This public stewardship responsibility has been recognized for over thirty years and continues today.

Historic Preservation and Heritage Resources Information

  • Historic Overlay Districts
    In 1969, the Board of Supervisors amended the Zoning Ordinance creating thirteen Historic Overlay Districts to provide regulations over and above the regular zoning protection.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 as the County’s heritage resources have been studied and preserved since the 1850's. Historic Overlay District Design Guidelines Overlay District Regulations
  • 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
  • Inventory of Historic Sites
    A catalog of historically significant sites within Fairfax County.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cemeteries of Fairfax County
  • 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.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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