May 14, 2012

Historic Woodlawn & The Widening of Route 1, Fairfax County, VA

The Woodlawn Stables Issue, the Historic District Issue & Beyond...

A lot is being said (and not said) about this issue. Widening Route 1 in place would precipitate the removal of historic remains from the Woodlawn Baptist Church Cemetery. It would also come extremely close to the property line of the Woodlawn Friends Meeting House Cemetery, perhaps causing them to render their historic burial ground inactive. No more room to expand. (Both of these cemeteries are active with descendants still currently living in the area.)

I have one point that I would like to bring up, one which has not been mentioned. According to the 1983 USGS Topo Map for the Woodlawn - Fort Belvoir area, there is a MARKED CEMETERY on the north side of Route 1, seemingly on the National Trust's property. This is a DIFFERENT cemetery from the Woodlawn Baptist Church Cemetery and the Friends Meeting Cemetery. The attached 1983 topo map shows the location of what I am calling the "Unnamed & Unknown Cemetery". I have also pointed out the locations of the Woodlawn Baptist Church & Cemetery and the Woodlawn Friends Meeting House & Cemetery.

I do not know how the planners missed this, but it is clear as the word "CEM"!...

This "new" (I say "new"'s obviously a very old burial ground, but it is new to this discussion) cemetery would be yet ANOTHER cemetery abutting Route 1 along the proposed widening route. Through my research on the historic Woodlawn plantation and community, I have become aware of other "missing" cemeteries that have been made reference to in historic documents. Cemeteries that were located on the Woodlawn property. These were for the slaves and the free people of color that lived on the Woodlawn property and in the surrounding neighborhood.


Is "Cem" one of those locations? Are we now talking a slave cemetery as well as the Baptist Church Cemetery that will need to be "respectfully removed"?

There is also the matter of the early burials of the members of the Woodlawn Baptist Church community. I find it perplexing that according to the church, the earliest burial in the Woodlawn Baptist Church Cemetery was in September 1875. But, the northern Baptist families started arriving at Woodlawn in the 1850s. No one died during those twenty-five years? Twenty-five years which included the Civil War! Unlikely.


The Woodlawn neighborhood is one of the oldest inhabited areas in Fairfax County. (Don't EVEN get me started on the missing Chapel, circa-1690! That site was probably within a 50 yard radius of the Roy Rogers want fries with that?!) Here's an idea: LEAVE IT ALONE. Simply leave the land alone. Is there really the money to widen Route 1 all the way up to Ft. Belvoir? Didn't the original plans actually have an option to not touch this stretch? May want to check into that...

The dead cannot advocate for themselves. How was this missed?!

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