Prince William County Historic Preservation Division

Prince William County Historic Preservation Division The Prince William County Historic Preservation Division is a division of the Prince William County Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Tourism. The Division manages County-owned historic properties & assists in the preservation of County wide cultural resources
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Operating as usual

Our marzipan Hedgehog has finally made his appearance. Furthermore, there are beautiful handmade ornaments replicating a...
11/21/2020

Our marzipan Hedgehog has finally made his appearance. Furthermore, there are beautiful handmade ornaments replicating an 1920s original to be found at Rippon Lodge Historic Site this December.

Join us for "Holidays through the Ages", each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from December 4th to the 20th. Tours are reservation only, at 11 am, 1pm, and 3 pm. Visit www.pwcparks.org/HistoricPrograms to purchase tickets.

No groups larger than 10 permitted per reservation. Masks are required for those over the age of five.

If you are a frequent visitor to Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre you might have noticed our interpretive signs ar...
11/21/2020

If you are a frequent visitor to Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre you might have noticed our interpretive signs are changing! We are working on updating all of our interpretive markers with new information historians have found about the town, including new features like marking of Brentsville Tavern, as well as a greater variety of stories about the events and people associated with Brentsville.

Thanks to our friends at Civil War Trails, Inc., we were were able to update another of our signs this week! On a beautiful day like today, come on out and enjoy our self-guided tour of the site to read all of our new signs enjoy some time outdoors!

Dipple occupied an interesting place in Prince William County's history.  It was the home of Reverend Alexander Scott, t...
11/20/2020

Dipple occupied an interesting place in Prince William County's history. It was the home of Reverend Alexander Scott, the first minister of the Anglican Overwharton Parish, in 1711, covering what would become Stafford and Prince William counties. While the church was in Aquia, Rev. Scott built his home at the mouth of Chopawamsic Creek as his duties would take him all across the area. The house eventually passed to his younger half-brother, the Reverend James Scott, who became the first minister to serve the new Quantico Church in Dumfries when Dettingen Parish was created in 1744. In the 1870s it was owned by a man named Elias Hore, a Stafford County businessman.

It survived acquisition by the Marine Corps and lived on as MCB Quantico was built up around it. Brown Field sprung up nearby and during WWII an anti-aircraft gun range was built right in front of it. Well into its second century, Dipple was torn down about 1955 after it had deteriorated severely from age and proximity to the artillery range.

11/19/2020
City of Manassas Virginia Parks, Culture & Recreation

The Brentsville Jail was recently featured as a "Local History Spotlight" by our friends at City of Manassas Virginia Parks, Culture & Recreation!

Check out this sneak peak to see our progress of the Brentsville Jail exhibit installation and make sure to put May 2021 on your calendar for the grand opening!

Thanks to our friends at Prince William County Historic Preservation Division for giving us a sneak peak inside the newly-restored Brentsville Jail.

GRASSES AND COMMON WILD PLANTS AT OUR HISTORIC SITES: YELLOW BRISTLEGRASS (FOX TAIL)In an earlier installment, we introd...
11/19/2020

GRASSES AND COMMON WILD PLANTS AT OUR HISTORIC SITES: YELLOW BRISTLEGRASS (FOX TAIL)

In an earlier installment, we introduced Timothy grass and mentioned there are some species that are sometimes confused with Timothy. This next installment is about one of these species – Yellow Bristlegrass (Setaria lutescens). This grass, also known as Yellow Fox Tail, is an introduced, warm season, upright bunch grass that reproduces by seed. The attractive yellow bristled seed heads appear on stems twenty to forty inches tall from June through September. These stems are somewhat flattened at the base and often have a purplish tinge. Leaf blades are two to six inches long, ¼ to ½ inch wide and often appear twisted in a loose spiral. The sheaths are tight around the stem, shorter than the internodes, and are compressed slightly at the back, resembling the shape of a boat keel.

This grass has beautiful yellow seed heads that are two to four inches long, ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, round and hairy, or bristly. The seed are broad, 3/8-inch-long, flat on one side and full rounded on the other side, with ridges along the entire seed length. The seeds are nested on the seed head in a cluster of bristles that are two to three times longer than the spikelet. This arrangement resembles typical millet type seed head.

Yellow bristlegrass was brought to this country from Europe and is now found throughout the United States. It grows on a variety of soils but is more common to fertile soils and low areas where moisture is plentiful. Yellow bristlegrass is a weedy grass which thrives in cultivated areas of range land. This annual grass is palatable to livestock and is usually grazed in tame pastures. All summer annuals, because of their shallow root system, short periods of production, and susceptibility to dry weather, contribute little to a permanent pasture. On native rangeland, all annuals are considered invasive species.

Enjoy seasonal offerings this December with Historic Preservation Division! Visit Historic Holiday Tours at Brentsville ...
11/18/2020

Enjoy seasonal offerings this December with Historic Preservation Division!

Visit Historic Holiday Tours at Brentsville Courthouse on December 12. Experience the holidays of years past. Learn about how local residents celebrated the season, and how they enjoyed the winter weather in the 18th and 19th Centuries! Tours, limited to seven people, are at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. $5 per person, free for children under six. Masks are required.

Explore more of the season at Holidays through the Ages, hosted by Rippon Lodge Historic Site. Stroll through the historic Lodge, viewing richly decorated interiors, and learn how the holiday festivities have evolved over the centuries. Tours are Fridays to Sundays, December 4-6, 11-13, and 18-20. 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. $5.00 per person, children under 6 are free. Reservations and masks are required; no groups larger than 10.

Please join us for our year-end, holiday programs! Register online today: www.pwcparks.org/HistoricPrograms

Looking for some #historyathome? Check out this FREE virtual program we are doing with Prince William Public Libraries t...
11/17/2020

Looking for some #historyathome? Check out this FREE virtual program we are doing with Prince William Public Libraries tomorrow at 7:00PM!

“WHAT A CONTRAST THIS MORNING PRESENTS TO YESTERDAY”: THE FREEDMEN’S BUREAU IN PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY

​The Civil War retains an important part in the American experience over 150 years after its conclusion. But what happened after the war? The Reconstruction Era is mostly forgotten today, or when it is remembered retains misconceptions that became popular 100 years ago. The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, or Freedmen's Bureau was charged with the monumental task of undertaking the first instance of nation-building in American history. Bill Backus from Prince William Historic Preservation will present a lecture on the history of this important institution here in Prince William County. Registration required.

https://pwcgov.libnet.info/event/4419190

It seems like the first chills of winter weather are really hitting this week! At least we won't have to experience the ...
11/17/2020

It seems like the first chills of winter weather are really hitting this week! At least we won't have to experience the type of winter that the 5th Alabama experienced from Cockpit Point throughout the winter of 1861:

"We were ordered away from Manassas and went direct to "Cock Pit Point" on the Potomac River and were put in charge of some artillery planted behind some rude earth embankments on a very high point overlooking the Potomac. Here we were expected, with this artillery, to blockade the river, allowing no craft to move up or down the channel...

We being from Alabama where the winters are no so severe, considered this winter of 1861-1862 the coldest of our lives and this high point on the Potomac, the coldest in America. So it seemed to use, and we came near freezing and starving to death that winter. We were away off to ourselves, and the roads were impassible from the rains and freezes, and rations became an item for the first time in our war life. I put out one morning on a private forageing expeidiion and struck out boldly across the country in search of a farm-house, expecting to beg or buy milk, butter, and bread, but to my astonishment, the county seemed to be uninhabited… The wind along and across the river had full sweep, as cold as the north pole, and it set in every night about time for the tide to rise. We were in messes in our company, four to six in a mess. It was our custom for the messmate who went on guard to put on all the spare clothes in the mess, sometimes two or three shirts, as many drawers, coats and trousers, and this was the only way we kept from freezing."

"The War Reminiscences of William Frierson Fulton II, 5th Alabama Battalion, Archer's Brigade, A.P. Hill's Light Division, A.N.V."

One of the most common questions we get at Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre is "What is that trap door under the C...
11/16/2020

One of the most common questions we get at Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre is "What is that trap door under the County Clerk's desk? Is it for convicted prisoners?"

Well, it's not that exciting.... the door under the desk actually provides access to a crawl space under the courthouse where the Courthouse's geothermal system is. Geothermal technology harnesses the Earth’s heat. Just a few feet below the surface, the Earth maintains a near-constant temperature, in contrast to the summer and winter extremes of the ambient air above ground. As water gets circulated through the system it heats up allowing us to heat the building in the wintertime and does the opposite in the summertime, helping us keep the building cool. Because water is a major component of the geothermal system, every once in a while we have to add water to the pipes to keep the system functioning properly.

A 200 year old building was not meant to have duct work in it so it is also a way for us to keep all of the modern technology to heat and cool the building hidden to preserve the appearance of the nineteenth century building.

All our historic sites will be closed tomorrow, November 16. Our Monday tour schedule will resume on November 23 with to...
11/15/2020

All our historic sites will be closed tomorrow, November 16. Our Monday tour schedule will resume on November 23 with tours at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. We apologize for any inconvenience but we look forward to seeing you next Monday.

If you wish to schedule a tour at any other time this week, please give our sites a call. Our contact information can be found at pwcgov.org/history.

Celebrating Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation on National Philanthropy DayOn November 15th, National Phila...
11/15/2020

Celebrating Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation on National Philanthropy Day

On November 15th, National Philanthropy Day honors those who give back to their communities.
The word philanthropy comes from Latin and Greek philanthropia which gives us kindliness, humanity, and love for mankind. From this, we take the philo (tending to, fond of) and join antropos meaning mankind or human beings. The Association of Fundraising Professionals created National Philanthropy Day in 1985, a day that recognizes philanthropists for their many significant contributions, help and good deeds and for the differences that they have made in our lives and our communities.

Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for the preservation program of Prince William County. The foundation works closely with the county’s Historic Preservation Division in its efforts to preserve our past and identify projects that restore county-owned historic properties and structures. The group also strives to increase public awareness of preservation and the steps to make the county's historic treasures available to the public. This organization was founded solely for charitable and educational purposes.

Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation is currently raising money for museum exhibits and interpretive services for the “ Old Jail”, which is the final building to be restored at the 28-acre Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, an open-air museum centered around the restored 1820’s fourth county seat. The “Old Jail” has a colorful and tragic history, and among other things, will be used to interpret seventy years of murder and mayhem in early Prince William County.

The Brentsville Jail Museum will house a number of period rooms such as the Jailor’s Office, Maximum Security Cell, Debtor’s Cell, Victorian era dormitory (reflecting the building’s history as a school), and a Korean War era master bedroom (reflecting the building’s history as a private residence). Each of the ten exhibit spaces will have a special focus. Some of the themes include 19th century crime and punishment, the history of slavery and African American history, historic architecture and building techniques, and local history.

The Foundation’s signature future project is the new Prince William Museum at Rippon Lodge. Currently in the planning stages, the museum will be located at Rippon Lodge Historic Site, and incorporate state-of-the art information and assistive technologies that will enable real-time interactivity between the museum, visitors, and educational institutions of all levels.

Visit the Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation’s website to donate or learn more about the group, their mission, and their current efforts at http://www.preservepw.org/.

Did you know that there were some laws on the books, that we consider odd today, when Brentsville was the County seat fr...
11/14/2020

Did you know that there were some laws on the books, that we consider odd today, when Brentsville was the County seat from 1820-1893? Some of them were:

-No one may be a professional fortuneteller, and if one wishes to pursue the practice as an amateur, it must be practiced in a school or church.

-No animal may be hunted on Sundays with the exception of raccoons, which may be hunted until 2 a.m.

-People were able to bring in fox, racoon, coyote, and other pest pelts to the courts in exchange for tax credits.

-No person shall run or ride a horse at a dangerous speed within the streets of the town.

And there are A LOT more! Interested in hearing more about some of the odd laws in Brentsville and some other unique stories from the town? Join us TONIGHT at 6:30PM for a Brentsville Stories Campfire to hear stories of adventures and mishaps from jousting, floods, watch towers and more from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Admission is $5 per person, children 2 and under are free. To register, please visit www.pwcparks.org/historicprograms. Hope to see you tonight!

Another project underway, or rather it's an extension of the work earlier this summer!  A new concrete walkway will soon...
11/13/2020

Another project underway, or rather it's an extension of the work earlier this summer! A new concrete walkway will soon connect from the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk, over an existing marked crosswalk, to the top at Rippon Lodge Historic Site. There will be two benches along the way, plus connects to the "Color the Path" trail and to the Rippon Lodge trail network. Stay tuned for future updates!

GRASSES AND COMMON WILD PLANTS AT OUR HISTORIC SITES: BROOMSEDGE BLUESTEMThose who find this series interesting are like...
11/12/2020

GRASSES AND COMMON WILD PLANTS AT OUR HISTORIC SITES: BROOMSEDGE BLUESTEM

Those who find this series interesting are likely noticing the grasses are a largely introduced species, though the recorded use stretches back to the 18th or 19th centuries. For the next installment, let’s discuss a native grass. At Bristoe Station Battlefield, there are clumps of Broomsedge Bluestem (Andropogon virginicus). This is a native, warm season, mid-tall bunchgrass that reproduces by seed, and the old bunches increase in size by tillering. Broomsedge Bluestem have a coarse, shallow feeding root system, and can be pulled by hand on most sites. The main stems are from two to four feet tall, in bunches, and branch freely toward the upper part. The blades are flat or folded, ten to fifteen inches long, 1/8 to ¼ inch wide, with scattered long hairs at the base on the upper side. Leaf sheaths are shorter than the internodes, somewhat flattened at the base and usually have hairs along the lower margins. Broomsedge bluestem produces seed at the upper nodes. The downy, fuzzy, flowering parts are partially enclosed in the sheath and, from a distance, appear silvery.

The perennial grass is found on lighter soils throughout the Eastern United States and its range appears to be spreading. Broomsedge bluestem is a poor range plant and a common invader on disturbed, or abused, native ranges. This grass is also a problem on low fertility tame pastures. Broomsedge bluestem usually appears first on the wetter, moist areas, and will spread quickly unless controlled by good management and proper fertilization. This coarse plant, with a characteristic straw, yellow color, is not relished by any species of livestock or wildlife. Some green shoots are grazed in early spring, but only if desirable, palatable grasses are not present. This is one of the first perennials to move into sandy fields, and if not disturbed, may form a solid, pure stand that resembles some of the better bluestem grasses. Some range managers and grassland buyers, not knowing this grass, have been completely mislead by its appearance.

On November 1, 1918, 24-year-old Private Melvin Brazil Cornwell died of his wounds in France.  The Manassas area residen...
11/11/2020

On November 1, 1918, 24-year-old Private Melvin Brazil Cornwell died of his wounds in France. The Manassas area resident was one of nearly 110,00 Americans who died during World War I, nearly all in the second half of 1918.

World War I was the first major foreign conflict the United States fought. Unlike the American Revolution or the Civil War, the battlefield was an ocean away in Europe. Gearing up for war in 1917, the United States government lacked a plan on how to deal with the remains of deceased American soldiers. Initially soldiers were buried on the battlefield near where they fell. Building on experience from the Civil War, National Cemeteries were established in France for the remains of the war dead.

At the conclusion of the war, France passed a law banning the exhumation of soldiers’ remains from French soil for 3 years starting in 1919. American public opinion split between those that thought fallen soldiers and Marines should remain in France and people who thought the remains should be repatriated back to the United States, such as "Bring Home Our Soldier Dead League". After the U.S. government negotiated to be able to repatriate their remains, the next-of-kin for the fallen servicemen were given the option to either have the remains brought back to the U.S. or remain in France.

Initially buried in France, in 1920 the Melvin Cornwell’s remains were brought back to the United States. Today Melvin Cornwell rests at Arlington National Cemetery.

On this day, we commemorate what was originally Armistice Day, the day the guns fell silent on the Western Front ending “The War to End All Wars”. Today, the day is also known as Veterans Day.

Happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service.

Address

17674 Main St
Dumfries, VA
22026

General information

We are pleased to present benefits of membership in the Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation. With each paid membership comes * The Historic Perspective Quarterly * Free regular admission to our historic sites * 10% off historic site shop merchandise Student $10. Individual $35. Family $75. Donor $100. Contributing $250. Sustaining $500. Patron $1,000. ➤ Membership at the DONOR level brings a heritage themed ornament ➤ Membership at the CONTRIBUTING level brings a print of one of Prince William's historic sites ➤ Membership at the SUSTAINING level brings a private tour for six at a historic site location (details to be determined by the Prince William County Department of Public Works Historic Preservation Division) ➤ Membership at the PATRON level brings a private costumed candlelight tour for ten (details to be determined by the Prince William County Department of Public Works Historic Preservation Division) TO JOIN: Online: Visit www.pwhpf.org and join securely via PayPal By Check: To the Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation 17674 Main Street Dumfries, VA 22026 NOTE: "Like", following, or any such social media term is not an endorsement, nor does it infer an affiliation. Comments posted herein are the opinion of the individual visiting the Prince William Histori Preservation Foundation's page, and not necessarily that of the Foundation, Board, or affiliated individuals.

Opening Hours

Monday 11:00 - 16:00
Thursday 11:00 - 16:00
Friday 11:00 - 16:00
Saturday 11:00 - 16:00
Sunday 11:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(703) 792-4754

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About Us

The Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism is dedicated to the preservation of Prince William County's historic resources. Our Historic Preservation Division staff serve as the caretakers of County-owned historic structures, interiors, archaeological resources, natural resources, historic landscapes, artifacts and collections. We also help build community identity through telling the story of our community through programs and events.

Staff recognizes the critical role we play in caring for our historic treasures and traditions. This role benefits our community, our state and our nation. We take this responsibility very seriously and strive to fulfill the need to identify, protect, preserve and rehabilitate historic sites for public use and posterity.

Our goal is to show the connections between our history, our present, our future and our growth as a community. We pledge to:


  • Bring history to life and to light through interpretation, research, living history, special events, lectures and exhibits;
  • Nearby museums


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    Prince William County’s Most Famous Patriot Remembered March 12 marks the 230 anniversary of the death of Prince William County’s most famous patriot, Col. William Grayson. William Grayson (1740 – March 12, 1790) was a soldier, lawyer, and statesman. Grayson practiced law in Prince William County, and is frequently mentioned as a guest at Mount Vernon, and as a hunting companion of George Washington. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Grayson served as a captain of the local militia, but left the Virginia forces to become an aide-de-camp to General Washington. He later took command of one of the sixteen regiments of the Continental Army. After a bloody battle at Monmouth, New Jersey that virtually destroyed his entire regiment, Grayson went on to serve on the Board of War. After the war, Grayson served as a member of the Continental Congress, and was later one of Virginia’s first two Senators. Grayson died in Dumfries on March 12, 1790, the first member of the United States Congress to die in office. He was interred in the Grayson family vault in Woodbridge on a hill overlooking Marumsco Creek. The family burial vault was originally located on a one thousand acre plantation. Now less than five acres remain undeveloped. The burial vault, now sitting in the midst of a Woodbridge residential neighborhood, was encased in concrete in the early 1900s by the Daughters of the American Revolution and has recently been repaired and made accessible to the public. The Reverend Spence Grayson, a “fighting parson” of the Revolution and lifelong friend of George Washington is also buried in the vault. The Colonel William Grayson Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, which serves Prince William County and western Fairfax County, periodically stages events to honor William Grayson and other patriot ancestors. Membership in the Sons of the American Revolution is open to the lineal descendant of a Revolutionary War soldier, sailor or Patriot. This includes persons who not only fought in the military or militia, but who also may have provided supplies, medical aid, signed oaths of Faith and Fidelity and similar acts. Contact the chapter’s registrar Michael Blythe [email protected] for help in applying for membership.
    Can anyone help with information about an estate called 'Peakesville' where Cooper Chancellor lived, he was married to one of my ancestors Mary Hore, daughter of Elias Hore and Isabell Triplett of Stafford County. 'Cooper Chancellor moved back to Prince William County and seated himself at “Peakesville”, a handsome estate containing 600 acres near Hoadley Post Office'. (source - from an unpublished manuscript by Geo. H S King). The Hore/Hord/Hoard can be traced back to the early 13c in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire in the UK and my particular line of the family stayed in the UK moving from Oxfordshire to Northamptonshire and to the West Midlands at the start of the 1900's where I live today.
    New Years day tour of Bristow! What an awesome tour, here is a photo I took of the pond.
    Is Santa coming to Brentsville this year?
    The City of Manassas Architectural Review Board (ARB) will be holding a special meeting on Wednesday, October 11th at 7:30 pm to hear public input on the proposal to create a Historic District to protect the Annaburg mansion and grounds. The meeting will be held in City Council Chambers on the first floor of City Hall at 9027 Center Street in Manassas. If you support preserving this historic landmark, then please plan to attend and also help spread the word about this very important event.
    Honoring our County's World War I soldiers.
    Mozey Moo goes to summer camp.
    Vintage photo, taken at Saturdays event.
    Vintage photo, taken this past Saturday's event.
    Another photo of the tour tonight.
    Great tour this evening of the Pringle House.
    Feel free to SHARE this post America’s first fireworks display: On July 4, 1783, Congress asked Thaddeus Kosciuszko, to stage an “illumination” to celebrate the end of the hostilities of the American Revolution. Kosciuszko was a master engineer and an expert of pyrotechnics. Happy Birthday America