Fairfax County's Historical Marker program began in January 1998 when the Fairfax County History Commission approved a design and agreed to fund a distinctive marker for Fairfax County. While this marker was generally modeled after Virginia's roadside markers, by state code it had to have a distinctive appearance. With colors derived from George Washington's Fairfax Militia uniform, these buff and blue roadside markers are emblazoned with the Fairfax County seal. Many of the requests for historical markers are initiated by the public or by proffers from developers. These sources have provided more than half of the funds supporting the program to date.
Historical Marker Guidelines
Fairfax County historical markers should commemorate persons, sites, buildings, or events of local significance. Living persons or events that occurred less than fifty years ago are ineligible for a Fairfax County marker. Exceptions may be allowed if the person, site, building, or event is considered by the Fairfax County History Commission to be of extraordinary historical significance. Markers should provide information about the site where the marker is installed rather than providing historical information about nearby places. There should only be one marker at a site or nearby site pertaining to the same subject.
There are many types and styles of historical markers available; however, the most common are the roadside marker and wayside marker. The roadside marker is a cast aluminum marker mounted on a 10’ pole and placed near a road. A wayside marker has a graphic-embedded fiberglass panel set into an aluminum frame that is often positioned near a trail or sidewalk. Both Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia have roadside marker programs.
The Fairfax County History Commission prepared marker guidelines to assist developers, property owners, and others who desire to create and install historical markers on private property in Fairfax County.
Nominating a Historical Highway Marker
Anyone may nominate a site or topic for a Virginia or Fairfax County Historical Roadside Marker. The nomination should include:
- A letter that includes the name and address of the person or organization that will pay for all or part of the marker. A nomination may be made without a commitment of funds.
- A 90-to-100-word text with supporting documentation and references consisting of primary sources (will, deeds, first person accounts, etc.). Secondary source documentation, such as books written long after an event occurred, are useful in suggesting historical information; however, primary source documentation is needed to provide an appropriate level of confidence that the information is correct. The wording of the text must be factual and objective.
- A recommended location shown on a local map (such as a Fairfax County property map) or photographs of the specific location. The property owner must be willing to sign a license agreement with Fairfax County, which defines the responsibilities of the county in exchange for permission to place the marker.