Headquartered in the historic Herndon Depot 717 Lynn Street Herndon, Virginia 20170
The Herndon Depot - 717 Lynn Street Herndon, Virginia 20170
Our next meeting is:
Thursday, February 27, 7:30 p.m.
In view of the snow and the extremely cold weather we have rescheduled the January Historical Society meeting for Thursday, Feb, 27. We hope to see you then!
Special February Meeting To Focus on the County’s Historic Cemeteries
Mary Lipsey, a member of the Fairfax County History Commission and president of the Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association, will be our speaker this month. According to Lipsey, there are more than 400 cemeteries in the county, of which 75% are family cemeteries. Some of them are well-maintained and others—like the Coleman family cemetery here in Herndon—are so overgrown that they are not recognizable. During the past five years the Cemetery Preservation Association has worked with scouts and interested community residents to clean up more than 30 of these sites. The group also has compiled a database that includes the service records and burial locations of more than 400 Civil War soldiers who are buried in the county. Lipsey will tell us about some of these cemeteries and about the work the Preservation Association has done to help preserve them. You won’t want to miss what promises to be a most interesting program— one that I hope also will spark interest in a renewed effort to clean up the Coleman plot. If you would like to see what it looks like today, it is located on Jefferson Mews Condominium Association property, just east of the tennis courts behind Herndon Middle School. The cemetery is overgrown with poison ivy and is surrounded by a chain link fence and no grave markers are currently visible. Click here to go to our page that lists Herndon Locale cemeteries.
For additional information contact Society President Charlie Waddell at 703-435-2520 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for more information on the recent Mosby Raid 2013 event.
Click here to see Herndon Historical Society's Historic Home Plaque Registry Walking Tour Sites complete with historical descriptions.
Clickhereto read local articles about Herndon on theHerndon Patchwebsite. (may require F5 refresh)
The Herndon Historical Society was founded in 1971. Its purpose, as stated in the Society's constitution, is “…to bring together those people interested in history, and especially in the history of the Herndon, Virginia, area.”
The Society established a museum in conjunction with the Town’s centennial celebration in 1976. The museum, which is open from noon to 3PM on Sundays, is located in Herndon’s historic train depot adjacent to the WO&D trail in the heart of the downtown. The museum contains an array of materials and collectables that illustrate the life, conditions, events, and activities of Herndon and the surrounding area.
When We Meet
The museum is the location for Historical Society meetings and for other special functions. The Society holds meetings three times per year—in January, May, and September. The meetings, which are free and open to the public, feature guest speakers—including authors, journalists and historians—who focus on topics of local historical interest. For information about meeting dates, times, and topics contact Society President Charlie Waddell, email@example.com. Clickhere to see the Herndon Historical Society's current Newletter.
What We Do
The Society is involved in many activities beyond maintaining the museum. For example:
• The Depot
Although the Town of Herndon owns the depot, the Historical Society has from time to time expended funds to help maintain it. The most recent project was the restoration of the original railroad semaphore that is fixed on the depot roof.
• Historic Homes Registry
The Society sponsors the historic home registry program designed to increase public awareness of Herndon’s older homes and buildings and their contribution to the Town’s distinctive character and spirit. Once an owner documents the history of the home and demonstrates that it satisfies certain criteria—such as the original structure being 50 or more years old and compatible with the character of Herndon, as well as being of historical or architectural significance to the Town—the application is approved and a request for a resolution is submitted to the Herndon Town Council. Once the resolution, which certifies the historic significance of the structure, is adopted, the structure is eligible to receive a plaque. All documentation becomes part of the Society’s research library, and a picture and brief history are placed on the Historical Society’s website. . Click here for more information about applying for the Registry.
• The Caboose
In 1989, longtime Society member and railroad aficianado George Moore located a surplus Norfolk and Western caboose, arranged for it to be transported to Herndon, and coordinated with the Herndon Department of Public Works to install the section of track on which it sits. Located adjacent to the W&OD trail—formerly the W&OD railroad line—the caboose serves as a reminder of the town’s rail history. Although the caboose is now the property of the Town of Herndon the Society continues to monitor its condition and to fund the interior maintenance. Following his death in 2003, the caboose was dedicated in George’s memory. In 2008, the interior was restored and the windows were improved to make them water tight.
• Annual Model Train Show
Each December for the last few years the Historical Society, along with the Herndon Foundation for the Cultural Arts and the Herndon Chamber of Commerce, has sponsored an Annual Model Train Show. This event—which is held in ArtSpace, Herndon’s community art gallery—features both HO and N gauge model trains.
• The GasHouseMiniPark
In 1999, the Historical Society funded restoration and improvements at the gas generating facility located across from Herndon’s MunicipalCenter. Improvements included a display that explains how the facility operated, along with landscaping for the mini-park that surrounds it. The park is dedicated in memory of former Society president Larry Clarity, and the benches it contains were donated in memory of another longtime member, Bill Moffett.
• And More…
The Society continues to engage in educational and preservation-oriented activities designed to ensure that the public remains interested in and aware of the history of the Herndon area. For example, Society members were actively involved in working with the Town to ensure that the historic “yellow house” was relocated from behind Adams Green Funeral Home to a new site at the corner of Oak and Pearl Streets and made available for sale when it was slated for demolition.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF HERNDON
The Town of Herndon is situated on land that was originally patented to Robert King Carter, Jr. and Thomas Barnes. Most of Herndon was included in the Carter patent, while Barnes held a small portion of property along the Loudoun County line. Both patents can be traced to Charles II.
Five and one-half million acres were patented to Thomas, 1st Lord of Culpeper. This included all of Fairfax and Loudoun counties. A portion of the land can be traced through Lord Fairfax to the Carter and Barnes land. (For details see "Herndon, the Land: 1649-1900," by Donald Levine. Copies are located in the Depot Museum, the Herndon Fortnightly Library, and the Virginia Room of the Fairfax City Library.)
In the early days, this area consisted of a collection of farms. The railroad arrived in about 1857, and the railroad station became a center of the community. Businesses sprang up around the station, attracted by the ready access to transportation.
In 1858, it was determined that a U.S. Post Office would be appropriate at this location. Meetings were held so area residents could select a slate of names to be presented for consideration. Local family names were suggested and, for a variety of reasons, rejected by the Postmaster General.
More meetings were held. Local legend holds that a stranger stood up at one of those meetings and proposed the name of William Lewis Herndon. Captain Herndon, a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, was a noted seafarer and an explorer of oceans and other waterways. He became a hero as the result of a well-publicized disaster at sea off the coast of the Carolinas in 1857.
Herndon was in command of the steamer Central America, which ran the New York-Panama route, the sea route of the Gold Rush 49ers. Steaming north on that ill-fated journey, the ship encountered a hurricane off Cape Hatteras and sank. She carried 575 passengers and crew, and a reported two to three million dollars in gold. The women and children and a few men who manned the lifeboats survived, but Captain Herndon and 425 other men were lost. The stranger at that long-ago meeting is believed to have been one of the male survivors.
However it actually came to be suggested, the name Herndon was presented and approved. In 1859, the Herndon Post Office was established. During the next 20 years, the community--both business and residential--grew slowly. There was a lull during the Civil War, when the railroad was partially destroyed.
On January 14, 1879, the Commonwealth of Virginia approved a charter and Herndon became an incorporated town. Herndon was then, as it is today, about four and one-third miles square, with the Depot roughly at its center. The town government was to be a council of seven, elected annually. The mayor was to be elected from and by the council, also for a term of one year.
The town's growth was modest into the 1900s. Dairy farming thrived, as the railroad provided an efficient method of transporting the milk to the processors (creameries) and distributors.
Passenger trains provided transportation for those who worked in Washington. In addition, the rail line provided a comfortable means of travel for Washington residents to travel to the resort towns--including Herndon--along the line. These city dwellers came to escape the Washington summers and to enjoy the fresh country air.
The railroad continued to provide the backbone for the area for many years. Inevitably, however, changes began to occur that would dictate the end of the railroad's importance. Roads were steadily improved, and trucks and automobiles became more dependable. A commuter could drive to work; a milk truck could pick up milk from a farmer's barnyard; and a delivery truck could bring the merchant's goods to his door.
The last big job the railroad handled was the hauling of sand to be used in the concrete mix for the runways at Dulles Airport. The last train ran through Herndon in August 1968.
Herndon is no longer a small, out-of-the way farming village, and Washington, once a distant 20.9 miles away, is now little more than a 20-minute drive on the Dulles Toll Road.
HOW TO JOIN Membership dues are $15 per calendar year. Make checks payable to Herndon Historical Society and mail to: Treasurer, Herndon Historical Society, P.O. Box 99, Herndon, VA 20172. Be sure to include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address with your check.
MEETING SCHEDULE The Society meets in the Depot on the fourth Wednesday in September, January, and May. Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. and are open to the public.
OFFICERS & BOARD OF DIRECTORS Charlie Waddell, President: firstname.lastname@example.org Virginia Clarity, Vice President Richard Downer, Treasurer Beverly Harris, Secretary Margaret Cyrus Harlon Reece Steve Sensabaugh
CONTACT US For additional information about the Herndon Historical Society call Charlie Waddell at 703/435-2520 or e-mail email@example.com
If you are interested in becoming a member please download the form below and either mail it to us or bring it when you attend a meeting.