Park Authority

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

703-324-8700
TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Sara Baldwin,
Acting Executive Director

artiFACTS

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s Museum Collections are home to more than 5,000 museum objects (chairs, quilts, baskets, machines, clothing) ,
thousands of archival items (photographs, maps, letters and other documents), upwards of three million artifacts (archaeological discoveries such as spear points, pottery) . They are the stories of Fairfax County.

The Coat Off His Back

Serve a Slice of HistoryTextiles are rarely recovered at local archaeological sites because the soils in Fairfax County are acidic, and most textiles disintegrate long before archaeologists can reach them. More often, archaeologists find metal buttons and hooks that once functioned on a cloth garment such as a coat or gown. However, sometimes cloth survives in unexpected places. Archaeologists found this felt object while excavating a 19th century tanning vat in Centreville. Conservation and scientific analysis yielded some fascinating details about the cloth.
Around 1804, Daniel Harrington opened a tanyard in Centreville. It contained several structures as well as large wooden tanning vats built in clay-lined pits. The tanyard closed some time before the summer of 1861, when thousands of Confederate soldiers occupied and constructed a complex system of fortifications around the village. After the Confederate Army left Centreville in March 1862, Union forces moved in. In the early 1990s, Fairfax County archaeologists found hundreds of artifacts while excavating one of the tanning vats. Their finds suggest that Union soldiers dumped their rubbish into the vat and then covered the pit with rubble.

Archaeologists recovered a felt object that they described as a hat. The felt was thick, double-seamed on a rounded edge, and cut on one edge. It was wet, covered in soil, deformed, and in pieces. They sent the object to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources Conservation Laboratory in Richmond for analysis and treatment. There, conservators gently brushed the fabric under water and let it slowly dry. They integrated the small, thin pieces into the larger section and brushed the top surface to raise the knap and remove loose residual soil. Finally, they mounted the preserved felt and returned it to Fairfax County.

The conservators determined that the fabric is the yoke of a coat, possibly a uniform coat. While they treated the fabric, Doug Owsley of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History analyzed a sample of the vat clay that was extracted near the yoke. The clay contained wool and lanolin waxes from land animals, such as sheep.

We’ll never know why this coat yoke ended up in the abandoned tanning vat, but the yoke is now preserved along with thousands of other artifacts from Fairfax County archaeological sites.

Other artiFacts

Serve a Slice of History
Serve a Slice of History
A Light in Dark Places
A Light in Dark Places
Old-Fashioned Ballot Box Reflects How Times Have Changed on Election Day
Old-Fashioned Ballot Box Reflects How Times Have Changed on Election Day
Someone Lost Their Marbles, Literally!
Someone Lost Their Marbles, Literally!
Photo or Drawing
Is It a Photo or Drawing?
We Found It! We Found…Clorox!
We Found It! We Found…Clorox!
Tracing the Origins of Silhouettes
Tracing the Origins of Silhouettes
Projectile Point Points to Ancient History of Mount Air
Projectile Point Points to Ancient History of Mount Air
Entertaining with Japanese Imari Ware
Entertaining with Japanese Imari Ware
Putting the Pieces Back Together
Putting the Pieces Back Together
The Curious Tales of a Jacket with No Tail
The Curious Tales of a Jacket with No Tail
Orange and Alexandria Railroad
Orange and Alexandria Railroad
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
Cookie Cutters Offer a Taste of History
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
Raise a Glass to “Air-Twist” Glass Stems
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
History Served Up at Great Falls Grange
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
Fans Serve Double Duty for Cooling and Advertising
Fans Serve Double Duty for Cooling and Advertising
More Than Meets the Eye: The Rigg-Buckley House
More Than Meets the Eye: The Rigg-Buckley House
A 3D Experience from the Past
A 3D Experience from the Past
Turning the Dirt
Turning the Dirt
Before the Era of Prom-posals, there were Dance Cards
Before the Era of Prom-posals, there were Dance Cards
More Than Just a Pretty Face
More Than Just a Pretty Face
A Wintery Look at Historic Green Spring
A Wintery Look at Historic Green Spring
Mystery Metal Pieces Keep Archaeologists Guessing
Mystery Metal Pieces Keep Archaeologists Guessing
A Christmas Day Wedding Gift that Gives a History Lesson
A Christmas Day Wedding Gift that Gives a History Lesson
Poking into History with Straight Pins
Poking into History with Straight Pins
A Summer Wedding for Clark House's First Residents
A Summer Wedding for Clark House's First Residents
Innovative American Art Form Made Art more Affordable
A Thimble Sheds Light on the Lives of Women in History
Innovative American Art Form Made Art more Affordable
Innovative American Art Form Made Art more Affordable
Newspaper Discovery Shines Light on Suffragette Movement
Newspaper Discovery Shines Light on Suffragette Movement
Ellanor C. Lawrence Time Capsule
The Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Time Capsule
Dried Sediment Ready to be Examined
Glass Beads Provide Connection to Our Past
Frying Pan Meeting House Bible
Meeting House Bible
Tin Glaze Ceramics
Tin Glaze Ceramics
Lincoln Portrait
Lincoln Portraits Enjoyed Popularity in America’s Past
Staffordshire Slipware
The Origin of Staffordshire Slipware
Christmas Quilt
Christmas Quilt has Ties to Dranesville Tavern
Violin
Milling and Music in Fairfax County History
Hand-Wrought Nails
Hand-Wrought Nails in Early America
Family Gazette
Newspaper Provides Insight into Past Residents of Green Spring
Stoneware
Stoneware Offers Insights to Time Periods and Activities
Sully Car
Photo Prompts Cruise Down Memory Lane
Gun Flint
Gun Flint
Buttons
Buttons Attach us to History
Church Pew
Church Pew Offers Lesson on County’s Cultural and Racial History
Tobacco Pipe
White Clay Tobacco Pipe
Agate
An Agate & The Grange
Glass Fragments
Glass Fragments Provide a Window into the Past
Child’s Tea Set
A Child’s Tea Set
Colonial Hinge
Hand-wrought Colonial Hinge
Commencement Invitation
Floris Vocational High School Commencement Invitation
Colonial Padlock
Colonial Padlock
Silk Top Hat
Silk Top Hat
Tobacco Promotional Pipe
Lorillard’s Tobacco Promotional Pipe
Long-distance Education before the Internet
Long-distance Education before the Internet
Fire Screens
The Purpose of Fire Screens
Broken Glass
More Than Broken Glass
Sully Mirror
Reflections of History
Cryptic Note
Mysterious Object, Cryptic Note
Tobacco Pipe
Sully Tall Clock

 

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