History of Falls Church

December 11, 2020

Falls Church is located not far from Washington D.C. Covering only just more than two square miles Falls Church is one of the smallest municipalities in the country. It is known today as 'the Little City', a name locals have embraced, and one that the town have now actually trademarked!

Early Settlement

Falls church was an early Colonial settlement that was shared with Native Americans. Though no one really knows when the first settlers arrived, we do know that Captain John Smith first surveyed the area in 1608. It is often thought that the area was first settled sometime in the late 1600s perhaps. The curious name traces its origin back to the original Falls Church, an 18th-century Church of England parish that later become the Episcopal Church in 1974.

Civil War

Falls Church remained no more than a small village for close to two centuries. Famously, in the summer of 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read from the steps of the Falls Church itself. As with many other parts of the country, the Civil War had a huge impact of Falls Church and its residents. During the war the village was occupied by the Confederate Army. As the war slowly reached a conclusion and the Confederate Army withdrew, Falls Church began to grow, evolving from a small village to a busy township. It achieved official township status in 1875.


One of the factors spurring the growth of Falls Church was improving the road network. Falls Church was well-located to service travellers passing through and with improved access quickly began to develop economically. The Cherry Hill Farm, that was established in 1845 by a local family, survived the war and brought workers and economic stability to the area. The increasing number of visitors led to a number of inns beinge stablished. They became real social hubs serving as community meeting places as well as offering cheap lodging, food and drink to passing travellers.  


Falls Church, Virginia remained a small town and part of Fairfax County until it achieved independent city status in 1948. This came about largely as a result of discontent with the schooling system. In 1945 Fairfax County abolished the independence of schools and placed the Jefferson and Madison schools under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County. The residents of Falls Church were far from happy with this and their discontent ultimately led to the small township breaking away from Fairfax County and becoming its own school district. The town was eventually given full independent city status in 1948.


Into The Modern Era

Today more than 12,000 people live in the city of Falls Church. It is a busy and vibrant city with a booming economy. In 2011 Forbes named Falls Church as the richest locality in the US. Thanks to its rich history and numerous historical attractions, Falls Church also has a thriving tourist industry. Whatever the future may hold for Falls Church, it comes from a past steeped in history and tradition.

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