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Falls Church is an independent city in Northern Virginia that takes its name from a wooden 18th century Church of England parish, The Falls Church, designed by James Wren in 1734 and constructed on the road to the Little Falls of the Potomac.
Architecture in Falls Church runs the gamut, from log cabin to Farmhouse, Craftsman, Victorian, Colonial Revival, Greek Revival, Rancher, Arts and Crafts, Bungalow, Cottage, transitional to mid-century modern.
Although apartments were constructed in Arlington and Alexandria during the late 1930s, it was not until 1948 that the first apartment complex, Winter Hill, was built in Falls Church. Winter Hill (now Tyler Gardens) consisted of 480 garden apartments. Just slightly more than 3% of the land in Falls Church was zoned for multifamily housing. Though this began to change in the mid-1950’s when housing became scarce, the majority of Falls Church residential inventory remains single family homes.
Subdivisions in Falls Church include Annalee Heights, Bel Air, Brilyn Park, Broyhill Park, Churchill, Devonshire Gardens, Donna Lee Gardens, Falls Hill, Fenwick Park, Greenway Downs, Hillwood, Jefferson Village, Kent Gardens, Marlo Heights, Pine Spring, Poplar Heights, Sleepy Hollow, Tyler Park, Valleybrook, Westhampton, Westlawn, Westwood Park, Woodley, Woodley North.
Falls Church was granted township status by Fairfax County in 1875 and was incorporated as the City of Falls Church in 1948. This made it an independent city with county-level governance status without its being a county itself. Falls Church is governed by a seven-member city council, each elected at large for four-year, staggered terms.
At only 2.11 square miles in size, Falls Church is the smallest incorporated municipality in Virginia. The center of the city is the crossroads of Virginia State Route 7 (Broad St./Leesburg Pike) and U.S. Route 29 (Washington St./Lee Highway). In 2011, Falls Church was named the richest county in the United States.
Falls Church corporate boundaries encompass a smaller area than is historically attributed to the neighborhood of Falls Church. Excluded are portions of Seven Corners and other segments of the current Falls Church postal districts, Fairfax County. Also excluded are East Falls Church (Arlington County), which was a part of Falls Church until 1936.
No formal record has been found documenting the earliest colony settlement in the Falls Church area, but when a cottage located two blocks from the city’s center was razed between 1908 and 1914, workers discovered a stone set into one of its chimneys, engraved with the date “1699.”
In 1776, a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence was read to Falls Church citizens from the steps of The Falls Church.
During the Civil War, Falls Church voted 44-25 in favor of secession. The Confederate Army occupied the Village of Falls Church and withdrew in September of 1861, retreating to Centreville. Union troops took nearby Munson’s and Upton’s hills east of Falls Church, but never fully brought the village under control. Mosby’s Raiders made several armed incursions into the heart of Falls Church to kidnap and murder suspected Northern sympathizers in 1864 and 1865.
Sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places include; Birch House, Cherry Hill, The Falls Church, Federal District Boundary Marker, SW 9 Stone, Federal District Boundary Marker, West Cornerstone and Mount Hope.
Two Metro stations have “Falls Church” in their names, but neither is located in the City of Falls Church. East Falls Church is in Arlington County and West Falls Church is in Fairfax County.
Neighborhood amenities include Cherry Hill Historic House & Farm, Falls Church Farmers Market, Jefferson District Park, and the Stage Theatre.