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Fairfax County: Fairfax County Courthouse and Historic Records Center, Gunston Hall, and Pohick Church

Wednesday, September 11, 7:00am5:00pm
Members $129 (Join today)
Part of the Virginia Journeys category.
Part of the program.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax Circuit Court.

Fairfax County Courthouse and Historic Records Center

Constructed in 1799, the historic Fairfax County Courthouse is the oldest public building still owned by Fairfax County. The courthouse has been the scene of many historical events, including campsites and staging for both the Confederate and Union Armies during the Civil War. Our tour of the courthouse and center includes a special viewing of original court records such as George Washington’s will and a pew deed for Pohick Church, where both George Washington and George Mason’s signatures appear on the same document, a very rare occurrence.

Image of Pohick Church in winter 1862 by Union private and mapmaker Robert Knox Sneden. (VMHC Mss5.1.Sn237.1.Vol1_0371)Image of Pohick Church in winter 1862 by Union private and mapmaker Robert Knox Sneden. (VMHC 1994.80.84.D))Pohick Church

Often called the “Mother Church of Northern Virginia,” Pohick Church was the first permanent church in the colony of Virginia to be established north of the Occoquan River, sometime prior to 1724. The church is notable for its association with important figures such as George Washington, George Mason, and George William Fairfax. All three were vestrymen and supervised the construction of the present Pohick Church, which was completed in 1774.

During the Civil War, the church became a Union observation post. The famous “aeronaut,” Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, Chief Aeronaut, Union Army Balloon Corps launched his balloon, Intreprid, to track Confederate troop movements along the Occoquan River.

Read excerpts by Union private and mapmaker Robert Knox Sneden describing Pohick Church in winter 1862. Sneden left future generations with a treasure trove of more than five hundred watercolors, assembled in four scrapbooks, that vividly depict his experiences during the Civil War. The scrapbooks along with his five-thousand-page illustrated memoir are in the collection of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture. Several images are shown here.

Photo courtesy of Gunston Hall by Steven Brooke.Gunston Hall

Gunston Hall was once the center of a 5,500-acre tobacco and corn plantation. Its owner, George Mason IV (1725-1792), was a fourth generation Virginian who became a senior statesman and one of the era’s most influential figures. As author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Mason was among the first to call for such fundamental American liberties as religious toleration and freedom of the press. Thomas Jefferson once referred to Mason as “a man of the first order of wisdom.”

Today, Gunston Hall is a National Historic Landmark owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia and administered by a Board of Regents appointed from The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America.


Virginia Journeys is a member-only travel program. The reservation fee includes transportation, admission fees, lunch, and snacks and beverages while in transit. The reservation fee is nonrefundable. Cancelled reservations may be eligible for a charitable contribution tax deduction and will be receipted upon request.

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