Fairfax County History Commission Accomplishments

Civil War Sesquicentennial

Lawyers RoadIn 2011, Fairfax County joined forces with other localities across the Commonwealth to form a local Sesquicentennial Committee in order to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Virginia. Members of the Commission continue to collaborate with Visit Fairfax, the Park Authority, the City of Fairfax, and representatives from local groups and societies to work with the State Sesquicentennial Commission, plan events and activities that highlight the County's role in the Civil War, and to promote Fairfax County's rich Civil War history. Gretchen Bulova is the Commission's representative to the Fairfax County Sesquicentennial Steering Committee and serves as Chair of the History Commission's Sesquicentennial committee.

Members of this committee include Carole Herrick, Mary Lipsey and Naomi Zeavin. They have planned a wide variety of activities and educational resources to support the County Sesquicentennial initiatives. Some of these activities include collaboration with the City of Fairfax to commemorate the Skirmish of Fairfax Courthouse (June 1, 2011); a suggested reading lists for both children and adults (2011); the coordination of a series of 18 Civil War Trail markers throughout the County (2012, 2013, 2014); the creation of a driving tour of Fairfax County Civil War sites "Footsteps to Fairfax Trail" (2012); the research, development and marketing of nine "Civil War in Fairfax County" educational outreach kits for school teachers, groups and community organizations (2014); and a Civil War in Fairfax County smart phone app (Spring 2015). Information and links to these initiatives and historical resources can be found on the Commission's website (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/histcomm/civil-war.htm). In addition Naomi Zeavin made a video on the story of Mason District Park Civil War Trails Marker.

Fairfax County Resident Curator Program

As noted in the 2012 Annual Report, the Commission-along with Department of Planning & Zoning (DPZ) and Park Authority staff-is participating in the ongoing effort to investigate the creation of a Resident Curator Program (RCP) for Fairfax County. Currently, a consultant is preparing a program implementation study that will analyze potential benefits and risks of an RCP program, establish the potential RCP's structure and define its management.

Robert Beach (Chair), Gretchen Bulova, Michael Irwin and Barbara Naef have served on the Commission's RCP Committee since 2011.

In March and April 2013, a member of the Commission's RCP committee participated in the Request for Proposal interviewing and consultant selection process. A consultant was hired by the county in July to conduct the program implementation study. Stakeholder meetings were held in August at Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center and Green Spring Gardens Park, with Commission representatives present.

Finally, as of May 1st, the Commission, through its RCP committee, has reviewed the consultant's second draft study report with comments submitted to DPZ staff, as required. The Commission anticipates the final report during 2014 and its continued participation to initiate the Resident Curator Program in Fairfax County.

Ninth Annual History Conference

Voices for Freedom!

Voices for Freedom "Voices for Freedom" Abolitionists, Oral History and Documenting the Past was the theme for the Fairfax County's 9th Annual History Conference held on Saturday, November 9, 2013, at the Stacey C. Sherwood Community Center in the City of Fairfax. Coordinated by the Fairfax County History Commission, Fairfax County Park Authority and the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center, the conference was sponsored by Visit Fairfax and the Seeds of Independence Committee of Gunston Hall. There was a capacity attendance of 130. Nearly 75 percent had attended a previous conference.

Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova and Congressman Gerry Connolly, 37th District, Virginia, kicked of the conference sharing their passion for history by recounting the importance of Fairfax County's history to the history of the United States. Congressman Connolly also announced the launch of a Civil Rights Archival project intended to gather and honor information, photographs and stories that occurred during the 1960's Civil Rights Era in Fairfax County.

Re-enactors began the program:

  • Frederick Douglass-19th century slave, orator and U.S. Marshal to the District of Columbia, re-enacted by Albert Williams;
  • Angelina Grimké-early 19th century, Abolitionist and Quaker women's rights activist from South. Carolina, portrayed by Lynne Garvey-Hodge; and
  • Julia Ward Howe-19th century Abolitionist and lyricist of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," portrayed by Jenée Lindner.

Esther McCullough, Chair of the Commission's Ethnic and Oral History Committee led a session on gathering and preserving oral histories throughout the county. The session featured four actors from FREED (Female Re-enactors of Distinction). Each presented the story of a slave who had lived, survived and even thrived during and after the Civil War - one became a lawyer and another, a doctor. Based in the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC, under the Direction of Patricia Tyson, the troupe of actors is frequently called upon to "tell their stories" to interested historians, students and citizens.

Fairfax County History Commission member, Debbie Robison provided a detailed look at the resources available for exploring local history. Ms. Robison provided the audience with stories reflecting a summary of the wealth of information that can be found by accessing online research sites. Links to online local history research sources are available at http://novahistory.org/Research/Research.html.

The conference ended with Dr. Spencer Crew, Robinson Professor of American, African American and Public History at George Mason University, who spoke on "African Americans and The Underground Railroad in Fairfax County during the Civil War." He noted the success of the "Railroad" is evidenced by the scant amount of documentation available on it - hence, those who participated took their roles of secret information bearers quite seriously. Over four million slaves lived in this country during the Civil War, yet only some 100,000 were able to find their way to freedom successfully. Marion Dobbins, one of his students and the founder of the new Fairfax County African American History Society introduced Dr. Crew.

Jason's Deli provided a continental breakfast and delicious lunch. Over 22 exhibitors and authors participated. History Commission member Jack L. Hiller took photographs of the conference. In a special touch, Sally Lyons graciously allowed the use of her late husband's Civil War era desk, which had been passed down to him through his mother whose father had served in the 16th Kentucky Infantry.

The Conference Planning Committee includes History Commission members Lynne Garvey-Hodge (Chair), Barbara Naef, Anne Barnes, Esther McCullough, Naomi Zeavin, Mike Irwin, Phyllis Walker Ford, Carole Herrick, Mary Lipsey and Sally Lyons; Susan Gray, Fairfax Museum and Visitor's Center; Elizabeth Crowell, Park Authority; and Jenée Lindner.

The 10th Annual History Conference will be held on November 8, 2014 at the Stacey C. Sherwood Community Center with a focus on the War of 1812.

Web Site

In addition to providing History Commission members' contact information, the History Commission's web page describes the various programs the Commission offers to promote interest in local history extending from pre-history to the recent past. The History Commission's Publication Grant encourages the sharing of local history research. The Awards Programs recognizes individuals for their efforts in researching or promoting history. Procedures and application forms for the Publication Grant and the Awards Programs are available online. Promotional information on the annual Fairfax County History Conference is placed on the website as it becomes available each year.

In addition, a historical resources page provides information on property owners in 1860, lists of Board of Supervisor members, and links to the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites and an external database of Fairfax County historical markers. The Sesquicentennial page provides information on the Civil War in Fairfax County, including suggested reading lists and a Fairfax County Civil War driving tour. The website serves as an easy, up to date and readily available tool for anyone interested in our County's history. Debbie Robison manages the website. The webmaster is Greg Chase with the Department of Planning and Zoning. (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/histcomm/)

Awards Program

The Fairfax County History Commission maintains awards programs to honor research and achievements in Fairfax County history and historic preservation:

  • Heritage Awareness Awards: Established in 1995, this program is designed to stimulate and reward original research in Fairfax County history using standard social, political and economic sources in written narrative form, a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places or a video documentary.
  • Recognition Awards: To recognize contributions of individuals and groups to the preservation of history in Fairfax County.

These programs are open to the public. A full description of the programs, along with rules and requirements can be found on the Commission's web site. (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/histcomm/awardsprogram.htm)

The Awards Committee included Lynne Garvey-Hodge (Chair), Naomi Zeavin, Robert E. Beach, Jack L. Hiller and Elise Ruff Murray.



The Fairfax County History Commission's Publications Committee continues to work on several reprints including "Beginning at a White Oak: Patents and Northern Neck Grants of Fairfax County, Virginia;" "Legato School: a Centennial Souvenir;" and "Mount Air, Fairfax, Virginia." The committee is working on publishing "Fairfax County in 1860" which is a portrait of the County shown through property identification maps and an aggregation of census data. The maps are posted online at (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/histcomm/1860maps.htm).  The Commission's publications are available for purchase at the Virginia Room. Some of the old Planning Office publications are available through the Park Authority. Committee members are working to find outlets for all of the Fairfax County local history publications.

The Publications Committee is working on dispersing local history publications from the County Warehouse.

The Commission has established a grant program, whereby an individual or a group may apply for a grant of up to $500 to aid in the research and publication of local history.

Members of the Publications Committee are Mary Lipsey (Chair), Anne Stuntz, Elise Ruff Murray, Barbara Naef, Lynne Garvey-Hodge, Anne Barnes and Carole Herrick.

Ethnic/Oral History

This committee was formed in the fall of 1997 in response to the increasing demographic diversity of Fairfax County's population. The one hundred languages spoken within schools show the diversity of the population. It has been estimated that in less than fifty years the County's white population will drop below 50 percent. The committee set as a goal to explore the ways in which more ethnic segments might be encouraged to record their experiences and community history since their arrival in Northern Virginia.

In 2004, at the suggestion of then-Chairman Connolly, the Commission formed a subcommittee of the Ethnic Committee to seek a project for recording and presenting oral history in Fairfax County. The Oral History subcommittee will plan more on the value and use of oral history.

The members of these committees are Esther McCullough (Chair), Naomi Zeavin, Anne Barnes, Sallie Lyons, Lynne Garvey-Hodge and Anne Stuntz.


Inventory of Historic Sites

The Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites is one of the History Commission's longest standing responsibilities. It serves as both an honorific and a planning tool. The Comprehensive Plan includes the Inventory sites in the Heritage Resources section of each Planning District.

The Comprehensive Plan Amendment PA 2013-CW-6CP, to update the Inventory tables, references to Inventory sites in the text and other technical corrections, was approved by the Planning Commission on March 27, 2014 including a request for inclusion of whether the property is National Register eligible. On April 29, 2014, the Board of Supervisors adopted the amendment as shown in the staff report and recommended the Planning Commission request be researched for next year due to the annual cycle of this amendment. Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) Planning Division staff completed the plan amendment with review by the Commission's Inventory Committee.

As of December 2013, the Inventory stands at 362 listings. The following sites were added in 2013:

Additions to the Inventory of Historic Sites 2013

Site Name Date Added District Location
Georgetown  Pike 9/4/2013 Dranesville McLean & Great Falls
McLean Volunteer Fire Department/Fairfax County Fire Station Number 1 11/6/2013 Dranesville McLean

The current Inventory list along with its background, nomination forms and research guidelines are accessible to staff and the general public on the County website. An Inventory nomination form, instruction guide and example are also available. (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/historic/ihs/).

Sallie Lyons, Elise Ruff Murray, Barbara Naef, Debbie Robison and Anne Stunz serve on the Inventory Committee, in cooperation with Laurie Turkawski and Linda Cornish Blank of DPZ.

Historical Markers

Fairfax County's Historical Marker Program began in January 1998 when the History Commission approved a design and agreed to fund a distinctive historical roadside marker for Fairfax County. While this marker is generally modeled after Virginia's roadside markers, by state code it must have a distinctive appearance. With colors derived from George Washington's Fairfax Militia uniform, these buff and blue roadside markers emblazoned with the Fairfax County seal, stand ten feet from ground level.

In the sixteen years the program has existed 51 historical roadside markers (including six state markers) have been approved for installation by the History Commission. Many requests for historical markers are initiated by the public, which provides for approximately one half of the funding. Some markers, including those requested by developers, are funded entirely by the requesting party. All requests are reviewed by a committee for historical accuracy and editorial continuity before being submitted to the entire Commission for approval.

During the 2012 calendar year, the Commission agreed to limit the funding of historical markers to the equivalent cost of two markers due to budget restraints. The current cost of fabricating a marker is $1960.

Two markers were approved by the Commission in 2013-at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Gum Springs and in Lorton a marker commemorating Deputy Sheriff George A. Malcolm, the first known law enforcement officer to die in the line to duty in Fairfax County (1905). Both markers were partially funded by the requesting parties. Both markers will be dedicated in 2014.

Serving on the Marker Committee are Jack Hiller (Chair), Anne Barnes, Michael Irwin, Mary Lipsey, Esther McCullough, Debbie Robison and Page Shelp.

Cultural Resource Managment and Protection Section Grants

Since 2000, the Commission has provided a modest grant to Vicki Monken for entering archaeological data into the computer for the Park Authority Cultural Resource Management and Protection Section (CRMP). In September 2013, the Commission provided a grant of $10,860 to assist in CRMP's efforts to update databases and physical spaces for an upcoming American Alliance of Museums accreditation. Intern, Chip Marshall, (Senior, GMU) wrote computer code that integrated many of CRMP's various databases, excel spreadsheets and other tracking documents into one cohesive unit. In addition, some supplies such as archival paper and file folders were purchased. This project is ongoing.

Speaker's Bureau

At the Board of Supervisors request, the Commission compiled a list of people willing to speak on topics related to Fairfax County history. The resulting Speaker's Bureau List includes a variety of countywide history topics with related speakers and contact information, including name, email address and phone number. An update is in progress.

Members of the Fairfax County History Commission continue to be active in speaking before various civic, community and historic groups.

Anne Barnes has presented talks on the early historical Fairfax County "Colored" schools at the annual Fairfax County History Conference, Gunston Hall and historic one room Laurel Grove School located in Franconia, Virginia.

Irma Clifton speaks to groups throughout the area on Lorton history, prison history and women's history. She is also a scheduled speaker to tour groups visiting the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.

Jack Hiller continued to have a busy schedule in 2013. Typically, he is asked to speak in public schools, to civic associations, historical groups, senior citizens or private groups. Many of Hiller's lectures are given with slides and focus on Springfield. Titles of his lectures include: "Murder at the Mill: Historian as Detective," "Henry Daingerfield and Origins of Springfield," "The Hidden History of Hidden Pond Park," and "An Introduction to Fairfax Archaeology."

Lynne Garvey-Hodge re-enacts Progressive Era Suffragist Mrs. Robert Walker for numerous community events, educational groups and Cox Cable Channel 10, traveling throughout Virginia to do so. Ms. Garvey-Hodge has also taken on two new characters: Angelina Grimké an early 19th century, Abolitionist and Quaker women's rights activist from South Carolina; and from the Gilded Age and early days of America's railroad industry, Mrs. John Henry Devereux (wife of railroad magnate and Civil War Rail Road "General" John Henry Devereux). Lynne also speaks on the history and background of the historic Town of Clifton, has researched, and authored a book, published by Arcadia Publishers in their Images of America Series, Clifton. She has given presentations on the history of Clifton to local groups and cablevision shows. She speaks to local educational forums and civic organizations on "Women of the Progressive Era in Fairfax County," "The Progressive Era in Fairfax County," "Victorian Mourning Customs" and "Pictures in Stone - Symbolism in Cemeteries."

Mary Lipsey continues to provide presentations on a variety of topics related to the "Braddock's True Gold" project, local history, women's history and firsts in American history.

Sallie Lyons promotes preservation and archeological and historical research in the old town of Colchester, Colchester Park and Preserve and Mason Neck, speaking frequently to groups and at the History Conference.

Debbie Robison spoke to various historical societies on Matildaville and Conn's Ferry. In addition, she made a presentation at the History Conference on researching local history.

Anne Stuntz speaks on the history of Vienna and its environs.

Naomi Zeavin speaks and shows history videos at the Rotary, schools, senior groups and Fairfax Museum on Historic Mason District.

Outreach Activities

Fairfax County History Commission members continue to be active in a variety of ways in the community. The following summary, though not a comprehensive list, highlights the wide variety of outreach activities performed by commission members.

Anne Barnes is a member of the Board of Directors of the Laurel Grove School Association.

Anne Barnes and Sallie Lyons are members of the Seeds of Independence Committee of Gunston Hall, tracing African American History on Mason Neck.

Architect member, Robert E. Beach, AIA, LEED, AP, BD+C designed the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, which will be located in Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton and will pay tribute to the women who endured harsh imprisonment to secure voting rights for women. Lynne Garvey-Hodge and Irma Clifton serve on the committee for the project.

Gretchen Bulova serves as the Northern Virginia Museum Representative on the Virginia Association of Museum's (VAM) Board, and is helping to plan the 2014 VAM Conference in Alexandria for more than 400 museum professionals. She was appointed to the State War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration Commission, as a citizen member to plan the 2014 Legacy Conference, representing Alexandria and Fairfax County. In addition, Gretchen is planning Alexandria's War of 1812 Commemoration activities.

Irma Clifton is the President of the Lorton Heritage Society, Inc. and is historian and collections manager for the Lorton Arts Foundation. She owns a historic house in Falmouth where she also is active in historic preservation.

Carole Herrick was chair "McLean Remembers the Civil War," an all-day event commemorating 150 years of the beginning of the Civil War, held at the McLean Community Center on October 22, 2011.

Carole Herrick is a past president of the McLean Historical Society and currently serves as vice-president.

Lynne Garvey-Hodge serves on the Town of Clifton Historic Preservation Committee, which she initiated; serves as chair of the Clifton Betterment Association's Clifton Oral History Project; and chaired the Clifton Community Woman's Club Spring Homes Tour in 2011 and her historic 1890's home on Blue Dan Lane was on the 2012 tour.

Lynne Garvey-Hodge and Mary Lipsey co-founded the non-profit Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association, Inc., whose goal is to preserve and protect family cemeteries in Fairfax County. Both are officers.

Sallie Lyons formed and incorporated the Friends of Fairfax County Archaeology and Cultural Resources, FOFA, supporting the Cultural Resource Management and Protection Section of the Park Authority. Barbara Naef was among the charter members. Elise Murray is also a member. Sallie Lyons continues to promote preservation and archaeology in Colchester and provide pro bono graphic design through Lyonshare Studios for CRMP historical interpretive trailside displays. She is an active member of the Lorton Heritage Society, Preservation Virginia and the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Archaeological Society of Virginia.

Elise Murray joined the board of the Friends of the Virginia Room in 2012, serves as vice president, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the Historical Society of Fairfax County.

As the Archaeologist Representative on the Commission, Barbara Naef continued to meet regularly with the Park Authority Cultural Resource Management and Protection (CRMP) Section Manager, to keep advised and updated on the various activities and projects involving the countywide archaeology programs that are managed through CRMP.

The volunteer assignment to coordinate the Park Authority Resource Management Division's American Association of Museums (AAM) accreditation self-study that Barbara Naef accepted in 2009 continued through 2013 with Barbara now a member of the full staff committee.

Debbie Robison continues to research local history and write articles about historical sites and events in Fairfax County. In addition, she regularly assists the public by answering research questions. She is a member of the Historic Centreville Society Board and serves on the Centreville Joint Committee reviewing proposed developments in the Centreville Historic District. Anne Stuntz serves as the president of Historic Vienna, Inc. and as chairman of the Vienna Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee. In addition, she is an active member of the Historical Society of Fairfax County, serves on the Sully Foundation and Flint Hill Cemetery Association boards, serves on the nominating committee of the Friends of the Virginia Room and is secretary of the Fitzhugh Families in Virginia.

Naomi Zeavin serves on the board of directors of the Capitol Hill Civil War Roundtable.

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