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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Family event will focus on African American history in Annandale area

The 2010 Oak Hill History Day, scheduled for October, will focus on 19th century African American communities in the Annandale area. Oak Hill is a privately owned 18th century Georgian-style home at 4716 Wakefield Chapel Road in Annandale.

The home, one of the oldest in Fairfax County, and adjacent properties are all that remain of the 22,000-acre Fitzhugh land grant, dating from the 1970s. Oak Hill was one of three plantations owned by the Fitzhugh family. The original home remains intact along with much of the historic landscape.

Oak Hill History Day will take place Saturday, Oct. 16, from noon to 5 p.m. There will be ongoing tours of the first floor of Oak Hill, food, music, and children’s activities, along with presentations on what is known of a now-lost African American community that developed in the late 1800s on former Oak Hill land on Braddock Road.

Maddy McCoy, developer and curator of Fairfax County’s Slavery Inventory database will share her research on the lives of the Ravensworth family’s slaves, former slaves, and free blacks. John Browne will discuss what maps reveal about generations of inheritance and sale that divided up Oak Hill and Ravensworth land. Springfield resident and author Dennis Howard will recount his family’s passage from slavery in Culpeper, Va., to becoming land owners and proprietors of a blacksmith shop on Little River Turnpike, to their contributions in developing our community.

The free event is sponsored by the Fairfax County Park Authority in collaboration with the Board of Supervisors. Oak Hill was preserved in 2004 when the Board of Supervisors, Park Authority Board, and Northern Virginia Conservation Trust negotiated the purchase of a historic easement from Seville Homes. Oak Hill is mostly hidden from the street, but there’s a path off Wakefield Chapel Road (near the intersection with Braeburn Drive) lined by huge, 200-year-old boxwoods. But don’t get too close; there’s a vicious dog.

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