Welcome to Vienna!
Original Settlement The original Fairfax County Courthouse, built near the present Tysons Corner, likely marked the first European settlement in the Vienna area. Street names such as Old Courthouse Road and Lawyers Road still reflect that origin.
Perhaps the first settler within the present town limits was Colonel Charles Broadwater, a prominent colonial soldier and public servant, who owned much of the land in the region and built his home here in 1754.In the 1760s, John Hunter, a native of Ayr County in Scotland, married Colonel Broadwater's daughter. Partly by marriage and partly by purchase, he succeeded Colonel Broadwater as the area's principal landowner. John Hunter built a house in what became the town in 1767 and called it Ayr Hill after his native land. As the village grew, it assumed the name Ayr Hill, by which it was known for a hundred years.
Unseasonable weather in the north and attractive land values in northern Virginia brought considerable migration to the Ayr Hill area from the 1840's to the 1860's. Among those immigrants was a family named Hendrick that came to Vienna in 1854. The Hendricks wanted Ayr Hill change its name to Vienna, the name of their hometown in upstate New York. The change was willingly made, probably because the family owned a lot of land and had become influential in local affairs. The Vienna, New York, that was Hendrick's hometown changed its name to Phelps in 1855.
Prior to the arrival of the railroad, Vienna had one main road, known as the Old Georgetown Road, that twisted and turned to avoid mud holes and rocks. The railroad reached Vienna in 1859 and provided impetus for growth into a real village. Known then as the Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire, it started at Alexandria and was planned to extend to the rich coal fields of Hampshire County, but natural barriers and the Civil War prevented the materialization of this plan.
When the Civil War broke out, Vienna became an alternate camping ground for the two contending forces. This was a confusing time for residents. It was hard to tell friend from foe, and the area changed hands so often that many families moved away for the duration of the war.The fifth skirmish of the war took place near the Park Street railroad crossing where the Vienna Community Center now stands. This incident marked the first time in history a railroad was used tactically in battle.
A year or more after the war was over, troops were still encamped in the village and bugle calls awakened residents at an early hour.Within the next few years, many northern families moved into and around Vienna. These new residents were attracted to making Vienna their permanent home because of its milder climate, the fertility of its soil, and its nearness to the nation's capital.
Influential Figures in the Town
Among these came Major Orrin T. Hine, Freedmen´s Bureau agent, radical Republican, farmer and realtor, who settled in Vienna in 1866. By 1885, he owned a great deal of real estate. In 1890, when the village of 300 persons became an incorporated town in order to improve its public schools and streets, he was elected Vienna´s first mayor and remained in that post until his death in 1899. At the century´s end, he was widely acknowledged to have accomplished much in rebuilding and constructively guiding the county so torn by war decades earlier.Maj. Hine was also a leading advocate of public education and testified in favor of the state public school law of 1870. In 1867, the first black public school, which also served as a Baptist church, was established in Vienna. The first white public school was built in 1872.
Expansion of Businesses
The number of churches increased. The Presbyterian church was built in 1874, then the Methodist in 1890, and in 1896 the Episcopal church was organized. Citizens began to speak of The Street as Church Street; so we know it today.At this time town businesses included saw and grist mills, blacksmith shops, wheelwright shops, a tomato canning factory, a lime kiln, a wood and coal yard and a broom factory. There were also dairy farms within the town limits. In 1881, Howard Money founded an undertaking business; today, Money and King Funeral Home is Vienna's oldest continuous business.The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department is the oldest in Fairfax County. Fathered by Leon Freeman, it started in 1903 with a small hand-drawn chemical engine that was housed under Mr. Freeman´s porch to prevent it from freezing in cold weather.
Modernization through the 20th Century
The horse and buggy days were no more. A trolley line came in 1903, furnishing hourly transportation to and from Washington, D.C. This gave way to the automobile age. The first car owned in town was Mr. Freeman's Franklin in 1904. The speed limit was 12 mph.In 1940, Vienna was still a small, quiet, rural town with a population of 1,237 and remained virtually untouched by the metropolitan character of the nation's capital. The town began to take on a new look in the 1950s when many businesses started to move from the old commercial section on Church Street to Maple Avenue. The post-World War II rush to the suburbs brought a burgeoning of population to Northern Virginia, almost 10,000 new residents to Vienna alone, their new houses blending with those of an earlier era.In 1954, the first of Vienna's modern shopping centers was opened. More shopping centers followed in quick succession along a widened Maple Avenue in an attempt to keep up with the influx of newcomers who bought homes in the town's new subdivisions. Older residents recall with nostalgia the Victorian homes and the maple trees that lined Maple Avenue before it was widened in 1958.Population around Vienna increased rapidly, leading to the establishment of Fairfax Hospital, the county's first hospital, in 1961; construction of Dulles International Airport in 1962; opening of Tysons Corner Center in 1968; and opening of the Vienna Metrorail station in 1986. In town, the Vienna Community Center was dedicated in 1966, and in 1971 the Patrick Henry Library opened.Present DayDespite the many changes that have occurred since Vienna became a town over 100 years ago, it has retained a sense of pride in community, and its people have worked successfully to preserve many of the traditions and institutions that give us the feeling of living in our own small town.
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