Fairfax County Courthouse

Dublin Core


Fairfax County Courthouse


Built 1799


Enslaved people were kept in the jail and sold on the courthouse steps. The Historic Records Center in the courthouse has information including the court slavery index https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/circuit/historic-records-center/fairfax-county-slavery-index


The courthouse and jail are also listed https://catalog.archives.gov/id/41680567 And are part of the City of Fairfax Historic District (listed 1987) https://catalog.archives.gov/id/41680561

The Historic Records Center in the courthouse has many original 18th century and 19th century wills, deeds, maps and other official documents concerning Fairfax County that contain information on enslaved people, including the court slavery index https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/circuit/historic-records-center/fairfax-county-slavery-index


Black Settlement in Fairfax County During Reconstruction, by Andrew M.D. Wolf Fairfax County Public Libraries
Numerous photos and drawings of the courthouse especially during the Civil War are at: Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/photos/?q=Fairfax+Courthouse
Articles about the courthouse in newspapers https://www.loc.gov/newspapers/?dl=item&q=Fairfax+Courthouse
Enslaved people were sold on the courthouse steps. See resources at https://ead.lib.virginia.edu/vivaxtf/view?docId=lva/vi04056.xml

Building Item Type Metadata


4110 Chain Bridge Road, Route 123



Historical Marker

FAIRFAX COUNTY COURTHOUSE: War on the Courthouse Grounds

Main Body Text of Marker:

If you had been here on a court day before 1861, you would have witnessed all levels of Virginia society. This would have included free African Americans registered with the court clerk to carry papers proving their freedom, while enslaved men, women, and children were bought and sold to satisfy debts, sometimes in front of the courthouse itself.

It was in this climate that on May 23, 1861, Fairfax County men voted to ratify the Ordinance of Secession. One week later, on June 1, the first engagement on Virginia soil occurred here when the 2nd New York Cavalry attacked Confederate units nearby. Early in July, the U.S. flag was raised over the courthouse, then replaced with the Confederate flag on July 22, as Southerners reoccupied the grounds.

In March 1862, the Confederate army evacuated northern Virginia and Federal forces occupied Fairfax Court House. County court business moved to Bruin’s Jail in Alexandria for the rest of the war. Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, 16th Vermont Infantry, who used the courthouse and clerk’s office for storage, noted that “windows were broken out and boarded up and the inside ripped out and the walls defaced.” On June 27, 1863, a skirmish here between parts of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s command and the 11th New York Cavalry delayed Stuart on his ride north during the Gettysburg Campaign. The thousands of Union soldiers posted here through 1865 put food, firewood, and even water in short supply, and made life uncomfortable for both White and Black residents.

Additional Notes

The Freedmen’s Bureau and School at Fairfax Courthouse The article describes the establishment of schools by the Bureau after the Civil War.

Interviews of teachers and students are included including Minnie Beckwith Hughes who taught in county schools for 30 years; by William Page Johnson II The Fare Facts Gazette The Newsletter of Historic Fairfax City, Inc. Vol. 13 Issue 4 Fall 2016

 https://www.historicfairfax.org/wp-content/up- loads/2012/05/HFCI1304-2016.pdf



“Fairfax County Courthouse,” Fairfax County African American History Inventory, accessed April 19, 2024, https://fairfaxaahi.centerformasonslegacies.com/items/show/122.