Planning Division

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our offices are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
703-324-1380 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 730
Fairfax, VA 22035
Kelly Atkinson

Gum Springs Heritage Resources Study

Fairfax County is partnering with the community to conduct a Heritage Resources Study for Gum Springs, in order to recognize the history of Gum Springs and identify resources with historical, cultural, architectural, or archaeological significance within the study area. The study is a first step toward the planning process which will engage the full community. The study will make recommendations on the feasibility of implementing certain preservation tools. No decisions have been made as to the final recommendations of the study. The community will decide what preservation tool(s) will best meet their goals and vision for the future. 

Study Area

The study will focus on the Gum Springs area as outlined in the maps below (click to enlarge). The study area also includes three cemeteries - Bethlehem Baptist, Coleman/Snowden, and Woodlawn Methodist Church Cemeteries.

gum springs woodlawn cemetary

Project Information

The study kicked off on May 28, 2024 with a public information session at the Gum Springs Community Center. The event was attended by more than 100 participants, both in person and virtually. The program included opening remarks from Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck and Chief Equity Officer Karla Bruce, with presentations from representatives of the New Gum Springs Civic Association, the Gum Springs Historical Society and Museum, and the consulting team lead by Commonwealth Preservation Group (CPG).

Study Timeline


Through collaboration with the Gum Springs community, the heritage resources study will:

  • Identify the historical themes and cultural narratives of the community from its founding through the early 1970s
  • Identify buildings and sites that contribute to significant historic themes of the Gum Springs community
  • Compile existing oral histories, and
  • Conduct new oral histories.

The information collected from the study will be used to create a management plan with recommendations for future preservation work. The plan will analyze potential preservation planning tools and make recommendations for future preservation work including: 

  • National Register District eligibility, 
  • Heritage Conservation Overlay District designation, 
  • Historic Overlay District designation, 
  • and other planning tools, as appropriate. 

Each tool will be individually assessed for feasibility and implementation.

Throughout almost 200 years of history and existence, the Gum Springs community tells the story of the oldest free sustained African American community in Fairfax County. Although the history of Gum Springs is recognized by the county, and two publications, The Corbin Report (unpublished), and a History Now Report (1984), both commissioned by Fairfax County, outlining the historic significance of the community, there is no comprehensive heritage resource study for this area. In 2018, during the Embark Richmond Highway project, the Gum Springs community was identified as an important historic and cultural community needing further study.

In September 2020, the Board of Supervisors authorized and allocated funding for Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to complete a heritage resources study for the Gum Springs community. In 2021, staff worked collaboratively with a small group of community members, made up of representatives from the New Gum Springs Civic Association and the Gum Springs Historical Society and Museum. Together they worked for 7 months to prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP), which included drafting of a scope of work, identifying the professional qualifications, and formulating the selection criteria to evaluate the responses received.

The resulting RFP was released in January of 2023, and a Selection Advisory Committee was formed. The committee, made up of county staff and representatives from the New Gum Springs Civic Association, evaluated the proposals received through the interview and selection process, and identified the consulting group to document the buildings and associated history of the Gum Springs community. In January of 2024, the Commonwealth Preservation Group (CPG) of Norfolk, Virginia, was chosen to complete the study. CPG will be working with the anthropological consulting firm of Kenah Consulting, architectural historians with RK&K consulting firm, and the urban sociologist Dr. Derek Hyra, to complete the project team, as requested by the Gum Springs Historical Society and Museum.

Related Resources

Board Matter (September 15, 2020)

History of Gum Springs

About the Gum Springs Study

The community members listed below include those who have worked with staff during the study preparation or are currently working with staff and the consultant on the study.

  • Vincent Carter
  • Ronald Chase
  • Pamela King
  • Dan Moon
  • Mattie Palmore

Community Engagement

None scheduled at this time.

Gum Springs Community Kick-Off Meeting
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
This meeting was hosted in partnership with the New Gum Springs Civic Association and the Gum Springs Historical Society and Museum.

Meeting Video  |  Meeting Flyer

Fairfax Virtual Assistant