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Preserving Fairfax History

Conference attracts 100 participants.

Historians and preservationists gathered in November to discuss strategies to save the county's array of historic resources. The second annual history conference, titled "Preserving & Documenting Our History," was sponsored by the Fairfax County History Commission, the Architectural Review Board, the Park Authority, the Northern Virginia Association for History and the Fairfax Museum and Visitor's Center.

One hundred participants signed up for the Nov. 11 event, held at the newly renovated Visitor Center at Frying Pan Park in Herndon.

"We are clearly responding to a hunger in the community. We had over 50 attendees this year who enjoyed the conference so much in 2005, that they came back this year," said conference chairperson Lynne Garvey Wark, a Clifton resident.. History groups in attendance included Historic Huntley, Friends of Historic Centreville, the Civil War Round Table — both the Capitol Hill and the Bull Run chapters — and Friends of Fairfax Station.

Board of Supervisors chairman Gerry Connolly (D-At-large) kicked off the conference, encouraging the community to stay vigilant in protecting the county's historic resources. He presented two Fairfax historians with Lifetime Achievement Awards: Naomi Zeavin, an author and video producer who has made a focus of preserving African-American oral history in her Mason District, and Jack L. Hiller, long-time history commissioner, chairperson of the county historical markers program and 30-year veteran of teaching high school history.

Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) gave a "Lessons Learned" presentation on the making of her district's acclaimed "Braddock's True Gold" anthology, including many oral histories from long-time area residents. "We had no idea what we were getting into," she said, "but the result is a now cherished document which will be an excellent piece of Braddock's history — and a lovely gift for someone who has lived here for a long time." She presented with two individuals who helped with the production of the book, Mary Lipsey, a newly appointed history commissioner and John Browne, a cartographer.

The keynote presentation was provided by Harris Andrews who reviewed the many "firsts" that occurred in the county during the Civil War — including air balloon reconnaissance and destruction of the newly laid railroad system.

A lunchtime field trip to the newly renovated Frying Pan Meeting House was narrated by Yvonne Johnson of the Park Authority.

Afternoon concurrent sessions were provided by a number of individuals: C. Brian Kelly spoke on "The Best Little Stories of the American Revolution," Naomi Zeavin, Esther McCullough of the History Commission and Jean Niccolls of the Park Authority spoke on conducting "Oral History interviews." A panel presentation providing an overview of county services included Katrina Krempaskey from the Fairfax County Circuit Court Archives, Suzanne Levy from the Fairfax City Library's Virginia Room and Jack L. Hiller from the county's Historical Marker program. Dr. Elizabeth Crowell spoke on the project to document and preserve Mount Air and Irma Clifton spoke on "Lessons Learned" in capturing a National Register designation for Lorton/Laurel Hill.