Join the Effort to Preserve Gum Springs' Rich History

Published on
05/15/2024
Gum Springs

 

History buffs and community members have a unique opportunity to delve into the past and help preserve it for future generations. Fairfax County staff are working closely with the community to launch the Gum Springs Heritage Resources Study, which kicks off with a meeting on Tuesday, May 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Gum Springs Community Center, 8100 Fordson Road, Alexandria.

Gum Springs, the oldest free sustained African American community in Fairfax County, traces its roots back nearly 200 years. The upcoming study seeks to explore, document and preserve the community’s rich heritage from its inception through the late twentieth century.

 

Background

The project was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2020 and has been gathering momentum with the selection of a team including Commonwealth Preservation Group, Kenah Consulting, architectural historians at RK&K, and sociologist Dr. Derek Hyra. The goal is to identify key historical themes and significant buildings, and to capture the oral histories that are seminal to the community’s identity.

 

Community Engagement

Community engagement is crucial for the success of the study. The May meeting will serve as an opportunity for residents to learn about the project scope, engage with the historians and voice their thoughts on what aspects of their history should be prioritized.

The outcomes of this comprehensive study are expected to be impactful. They include creating a management document with recommendations for preservation strategies and exploring eligibility for designations like National Register District and other important preservation tools.

 

What Happens Next

This summer and fall, the architectural survey will include collecting background information, writing descriptions and taking photos of buildings in Gum Springs. Additionally, 10 to 12 residents will be selected by the Gum Springs Civic Association to share oral histories. During a follow-up community meeting planned for the fall, there will be an opportunity for others to share their stories, photos and documents through more informal data gathering. A final report on the heritage resources study is anticipated for fall 2025.

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