Fairfax is Developing a Plan for Resident Curator Program to Save Historic Properties

August 1, 2013

News Highlights

  • To help save historic, publicly-owned properties, the county is developing a plan to implement a Resident Curator Program.
  • In exchange for renovating the properties at their own expense, qualified individuals or groups can lease them for little or no rent.
  • Two public meetings will be held on Aug. 22 and 27 to gather input on how the proposed program should operate.


To preserve publicly-owned historic buildings, Fairfax County is currently drafting a plan for a resident curator program. If established, Fairfax would be the first locality in the state to implement one.

Under the proposal, unused historic properties would be leased for little or no rent. In return, curators-qualified individuals or groups-would rehabilitate the properties, at their own expense, under county guidance in accordance with accepted preservation standards for historic buildings. A resident curator program could provide a fiscally responsible means to put many of Fairfax County's historic properties back into an appropriate use.

In addition to preserving significant historic buildings, they could be put to practical use as residential, office or commercial space depending on how they are planned and zoned, community input and other factors. Curators would be required to provide opportunities for the public to visit and tour the properties in order to appreciate and understand their historic and architectural significance. A resident curator program would contribute to the county's stewardship mission of preserving and maintaining our historic resources while using a minimum of county fiscal resources.

The county has hired a historic preservation firm to develop the plan. Public engagement is key to helping define how the program would operate. Two initial public meetings with the same subject matter will be held in different areas of the county for the convenience of residents:

After the plan is written, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will determine the next steps for the proposed program.

Resident curator programs 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. In exchange for rehabilitating the property, the curator gains use of the property and pays little or no rent.

The county’s plan will set out standards for properties to qualify for the program, as well as identify specific sites as candidates. At a minimum, they must be eligible to be listed in the county’s Inventory of Historic Sites.

The county hired John Milner Associates Inc. to write the plan, which is expected to be completed by May 2014. It will address a number of issues, including candidate properties and selection criteria; how the program should be administered; potential tax incentives; and responsibilities for potential curators and the county.

In 2011, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed staff to work with the History Commission to evaluate a Resident Curator Program. In conjunction with the commission, the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning and Fairfax County Park Authority are jointly managing this study.

For more information, visit the Resident Curator Implementation Study web page, or call the Park Authority Public Information Office at 703-324-8662, TTY 711.

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