All about Falls Church, Virginia

December 10, 2020

With an unassuming population of approximately 15,000 residents and a colonial vibe imparted by the 18th-century Episcopal parish from which the city gets its name, you may not expect much from what seems like a relatively typical southeastern American town. However, the small city's lack of boasting is more of a testament to its humility than a lack of fascinating characteristics.

While the city's residents lay claim to an area not much larger than 2 square miles, it would be wise to make no assumptions based on its size; the history of humble Falls Church is integral to the history of the United States of America.  While the history of the land upon which the modern city exists extends further back as a province of the Iroquois Confederacy, where the nearby rivers served as an important transportation medium, the tale of the city itself begins in the late 1600s as suggested by archaeological evidence from the ruins of a cottage, and it was likely during this period that English settlers first found themselves in the area. The well-noted explorer John Smith was the first of the English explorers to map out much of northern Virginia. While his own legacy became entrenched with the infamous Jamestown Colony, his efforts opened up the area to European settlements, including Falls Church, Virginia.

What about the name? The city is named after the iconic Falls Church, a building that still stands in the city today as a place of worship for local Episcopalians. The building you will see if you go to Falls Church today was constructed in 1769 and is one of the oldest standing churches in the country, but prior even to that stood a wooden church built by Colonel Richard Blackburn in 1733 under the ownership of William Gunnell, a local landowner and congregation leader. The history gets even more interesting in 1762 when George Washington, whose birthplace was not far, was elected vestryman. What is arguably the historical highlight of the church is the time when the town's citizens were read the Declaration of Independence at the end of the Revolutionary War.

While the church had been abandoned, reclaimed in 1836 by a congregation led by Francis Scott Key, author of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Henry Fairfax. It was abandoned again during the Civil War, reclaimed once again, and has been in continuous service since 1873.

Today, Falls Church is a prosperous independent city with the lowest poverty level of any city in the country. Quality of life is high here, as are things to do. The capital city and cultural hub Washington D.C. is not far away. Gorgeous marshes and parks surround the area with the eye-watering beauty and fishing opportunities of the Chesapeake Bay less than 50 miles away. Additionally, life within the town itself is home to a number of breweries, historical parks, trails, cultural centers, and shops. Ultimately, it's hard to dispute the fact that Falls Church, Virginia is a great place to live.

Finally, if you're looking to raise a family here, the schools available are some of the best in the country. Thanks to a pleasant climate and many culturally significant sites in the area, field trips add another dimension to attending school that few students are fortunate enough to experience. With the prospect of higher education and a fulfilling career being pertinent these days, any student who lives here will have ample opportunities for career exploration and valuable internships.

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Learn about the History of Falls Church, VA