A Walking Tour of Fairfax, Virginia
a walking tour in the Look Up, America series from walkthetown.com
by Doug Gelbert
published by Cruden Bay Books at Smashwords
Copyright 2010 by Cruden Bay Books
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the Publisher.
The first person to own the land that is now the City of Fairfax was Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, who was awarded five million acres in land located in Northern Virginia by King Charles. When it came time for actually form a town the owner was Richard Ratcliffe who had begun acquiring land around the headwaters of Accotink Creek in 1786. Over the next decade he had grown his Mount Vineyard plantation to about 3,000 acres.
In the meantime the new federal government was moving to the banks of the Potomac and chief executive George Washington brought his hometown of Alexandria into the jurisdiction of the newly created District of Columbia. This moved Alexandria, the county seat of Fairfax County since its inception in 1752, out of the legal boundaries of its Virginia home county. With a mandate to find a centrally convenient new location for its county seat, Fairfax County Court officials accepted Richard Ratcliffe’s offer of four acres to build a courthouse upon. The price - a single dollar.