Historic Blenheim

Posted by on Feb 23, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Historic Blenheim, 3610 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax City, Virginia

Historic Blenheim, 3610 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax City, Virginia

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Historic Blenheim

Historic Blenheim is a Greek Revival style brick farm house built in 1859 on land originally owned Captain Rezin Samuel Willcoxon. In the early nineteenth century Willcoxon began to accumulate land in what is present day Fairfax City, Virginia. At one point he owned over 1,000 acres of land in the area. The U.S. Agricultural Census of 1850 states that Rezin Willcoxon was farming approximately 400 acres of this land. In April 1854, Albert T., Rezin’s son, purchased a large tract of land from his father. It is assumed at this point that Albert had taken over the operations of the farm on the land and established residency on the property. The original farmhouse was destroyed by fire in 1855. The current property was built as the replacement.

Due to its proximity to Washington, DC and its location on a key crossroads, Fairfax was important to the defenses of the nation’s capital during the Civil War. Not long after the start of the war, a Confederate force of about 300 men guarded the town. It was here in one of the early skirmishes that on June 1, 1861 Captain John Quincy Marr, became the first Confederate officer to be killed in the war, was shot. By July 1861, Fairfax was in control of the Union Army. By the end of the year, the Army of the Potomac was using the Fairfax County courthouse as its local headquarters. There is evidence to suggest that Blenheim was also used for the same purpose.

Albert and his wife, Mary, were supporters of succession and the Confederate cause. When Fairfax finally became a permanent Union stronghold in March 1863, the family abandoned the property. The farmhouse was then occupied by Union soldiers.

The Union soldiers used the property as a hospital. Those who stayed there left writings on the walls of the first, second and attic levels. The walls contain over 100 names, units, dates, poems and artistic drawings. There are references to over 23 different military regiments on the walls. These writings are one of the largest and best preserved examples of Civil War inscriptions in the country.

The Willcoxon family returned to the property at the end of the war. When Albert died in 1889, all of his land as well as the farmhouse, which was then known as Willcoxon Place, was split between his two children, Harry and Bessie. Harry continued to operate the farm through the start of the twentieth century. It was in Harry’s obituary that the first reference to Blenheim was recorded. However, the property was still called Willcoxon Place throughout the twentieth century. The farm continued operations through the 1950s.  Historic Blenheim and what remained of the land alongside the farmhouse was purchased by the City of Fairfax in 1999.

Although many layers of wallpaper were added to the first and second levels of the farmhouse, the drawings were never destroyed. Today, the wallpaper on the two main floors has been removed and the inscriptions are visible throughout.

In 2001, Historic Blenheim was added to the National Register of Historic Places. A Civil War Interpretation Center, which opened in 2008, was constructed adjacent to the house. A life sized replica of the about two-thirds of the attic including all the inscriptions has been created in the Interpretive Center.

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