Historic Fairfax City, Inc. (HFCI) helps the city interpret Historic Buildings and Sites and raise funds for building preservation. HFCI is the advisory board to the City of Fairfax Office of Historic Resources, charged with managing the operation of City-owned historic properties.
The City of Fairfax’s historic buildings and landmarks are tangible reminders of local heritage and the important role the town played as a major crossroads and judicial center in northern Virginia. Most historic sites are located within the city’s historic downtown area. In 1987, the City of Fairfax Historic District was named on the National Register of Historic Places. The district includes a variety of buildings types and styles, including the Fairfax Court House (1800), Ratcliffe-Allison House (1812), William Gunnell House (c.1835), Joshua Gunnell House (c.1830), Ford House (c.1835), Fairfax Elementary School (1873), (Concerted in 1992 into the Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center), Old Fairfax Jail (1885), Old Town Hall (1900), and the Marr Monument (1904).
Free Brochures provide a walking tour of noteworthy buildings and monuments in Old Town Fairfax (see Map of History for self guided walking tour) and offers a brief history of the city. These brochures are available from the
Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center
10209 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
703.385.8414 and at City Hall
Guided walking tours of the city’s historic district are offered periodically by HFCI and the museum, call 703.385.8414
Historic properties outside the Historic District illustrate the area’s 19th-century rural heritage and 20th-century transformation into a suburb of Washington, D.C. Blenheim, the c.1859 brick farmhouse on Old Lee Highway, is famed for its 100+ inscriptions from Union soldiers when the Fairfax Court House area was occupied intermittently from 1862-1865. Blenheim hosts a Civil War Day annually on the first Saturday in May. The historic Blenheim Civil War Interpretive Center opened to the public in 2008. The Tastee 29 Diner, built in 1940 on the Lee Highway commercial corridor, is also individually listed in the National Register.
The five City-owned historic buildings are Fairfax Elementary School [now Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center], Old Town Hall, Ratcliffe-Allison House, Historic Blenheim and Grandma’s Cottage.
Old Town Hall is the social architectural cornerstone of the City. Joseph E. Willard presented the Hall as a gift to the citizens of Fairfax in 1900. Built by Arthur Thompson, a local contractor, the classical revival style Hall retains much of its original woodwork. Old Town Hall’s second level houses the Huddleson Library and is home to the Fairfax Art League.
Built by Richard Ratcliffe in 1812, this house is the oldest residence in the city. This house-museum interprets the daily activities of some of its twelve owners and occupants, illustrating commercial and domestic change along Main Street during the 19th and 20th centuries. The last two private owners were Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, prominent social reformer, and her daughter Kitty Pozer. Pozer, a respected gardener, deeded the house to the city in 1973. The house is open to the public for free tours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays from April through October, during many city special events, during walking tours offered in the spring and fall, and by appointment; email or call 703.385.8414
The City of Fairfax purchased the 12 acre estate in early 1999 to preserve it as a Civil War Interpretive Center and open-air park. The property was once a 367 acre farm owned by Albert Willcoxon. The house he built in 1859 is a central hall , Greek revival style brick farmhouse. The house contains voluminous and best preserved examples of Civil War inscriptions in the nation, a “diary on walls” providing insight into typical soldier life during the Civil War. It is nationally significant for the more than 100 signatures, art, and poetry created by Union soldiers during their occupation of the house on 3 occasions. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. The site also includes a 5,000-square foot Civil War Museum and Interpretive Center, an assembly hall, outdoor pergola patio, gift shop and restrooms that are all ADA accessible. The Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 till 3pm, and a guided tour of the house and site is offered at 1PM. Special Civil War programs are offered monthly. The Center is available for rental for private events. For general information call 703 591 0560 and for rental information call 703 385 7858.
Grandma’s Cottage is significant both for its architecture and history. The Cottage was occupied for much of its history by Margaret Conn Willcoxon Farr, the daughter of Rezin Willcoxon, owner of the Willcoxon estate (later named “Blenheim”). Margaret Farr is buried in the Blenheim cemetery. The Cottage likely dates to the 1830s or 1840s and is important of its combination of log-wall construction and rare timber framing with brick infill between the studs in the oldest portion of the house.
The Cottage’s original location was near the corner of Main Street and Old Lee Highway where the Main Street Marketplace shopping center stands. It was relocated from there to a location on Old Lee Highway near Layton Hall Drive in 1962. The Cottage was moved to the Blenheim estate in 2001.
The Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center is located between Washington Dulles International Airport and Washington, D.C., in the heart of Northern Virginia. The Museum & Visitor Center and City of Fairfax provide a strategic base for visiting the District, Manassas, Tysons Corner and Northern Virginia — including the Shenandoah Valley and Skyline Drive.
Staffed by museum professionals and dedicated volunteer work force, the Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center is housed in the former Fairfax Elementary School, built in 1873 as the first two-story school in Fairfax County. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the facility is handicapped- accessible.
The visitor center provides general visitor information for both tourists and residents, including lodging, restaurants, transportation and historic and natural attractions. The visitor center also is the place to find out about special events in and around the city.
The museum produces special exhibitions on city history, provides educational outreach to school and youth groups and offers walking tours of Old Town Fairfax and the city’s historic buildings in the spring and fall.
The facility’s gift shop stocks books, art prints and souvenirs related to Fairfax and Virginia history.
Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center
10209 Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22030
Open daily from 9am to 5pm
Closed New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve (half-day) and Christmas Day
703-385-8414 or 1-800-545-7950 Toll-Free