Falls Church, although it is just a small independent town in Northern Virginia with around 12,000 residents, it has an amazing history that significantly affected and shaped the society of the town today. The town took its name from a 18th-century Church of England, named Falls Church. In 1875, the town gained township status within the Fairfax County. In 1948, it has become an independent city with county-level governance status.
Prehistory of Falls Church and European Colonization
Before the Europeans discovered and explored this area, it was governed by an association of Native American nations. Residents called the area Little Falls, and they have considered it a highly significant cataract to navigation on the Potomac River. The English were those who were first exploring the Potomac as far as Little Falls. Saved documents of Captain John Smith of England note that apart from seeing a lot of deer, bears, turkeys, and buffaloes, he also noticed that the land was very fertile. That meant the ground was perfect for colonization and settling down new civilizations. We can track the established sites of the area as early as 1699. The proof for this lies in the destroyed cottage which bore a stone engraved with the date “1699”. The stone was set into one of the two large chimneys of the cottage.
In 1734 The Falls Church was founded not only as a place of worship but also as an outpost of the Colony’s leaders. It was an official church of the Colony who wished to establish a new civilization. The little wooden church stood still until 1769. After that, an architect named James Wren built a brick church. An interesting fact about Falls Church is that the future president, George Washington, kept the bricklayer at his home. George Mason, known as the author of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution was the Falls Church vestryman.
War of Independence and the Civil War
During the war, George Washington was the church vestryman until 1784. Since he was leading the continental armies, he couldn’t attend his duties on the church sacristy. A lot of men in this small town have served during the Revolution in the colonial militia. When Methodism came into this village in 1776, the wooden Adams’s Chapel was built. Today, this is the Falls Church’s eastern end, also known as Oakwood Cemetery. The church was once again rebuilt in 1819. During the Civil War in 1862, it was torn down.
During the war of 1812, many government officials, including President James Madison, fled into this small village, looking for a safe place, and eventually arrived at the famous Wren’s Tavern. After the war, the little village began to prosper. Many roads were built, and because of them, the village was connected with larger trading centers. The population started growing, and even new forms of religious expression emerged. The local Presbyterian congregation built the Columbia Baptist Church in 1856, adjacent to the Falls Church.
After the war, residents established prosperous communities in an area, improved their schooling, formed cultural organizations and much more. In the 20th century, Falls Church was Fairfax County’s largest town, and it was very modern and advanced. Nowadays, it is easy to find information on Falls Church, it ranks as second in the entire US for the number of its citizens having advanced academic diplomas, and the school districts in Falls Church are some of the best in the nation!