Cherry Hill Farm
Cherry Hill Farm is a historic farmstead in the City of Falls Church, located just west of Washington, D.C. The property is especially relevant as it dates to the early 18th century when most of Northern Virginia was open space and Washington D.C. itself did not exist for nearly a century afterwards. Today Cherry Hill Park remains a treasured landmark to the City of Falls Church. It serves as both a historical site and as a park in the surrounding space, though the farm itself has been reduced to the barn and the house. Cherry Hill Park remains despite the numerous urbanization that has occurred in the vicinity of Falls Church in the past six decades. The property was designated a Virginia Landmark on June 19, 1973 and added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 26, 1973.
Backstory and Context
Cherry Hill Farm was first established as its own plot of land in 1729, when Lord Fairfax gave it to John Trammel. Afterwards, the property was passed on to both his son and then his granddaughter. But it would not remain in the Trammel family for long. A man named John Mills purchased the land around 1833. Shortly after that, in 1843, a man named Augustine Newton bought the land and downsized it by 66 acres, and then sold it to a William Harvey, who is said to have built that farmhouse that currently exists.
Around 1856, another family received the property, a Massachusetts family known as the Blaisdells. Here they built several houses on the property along with orchards and gardens which have ceased to exist. During their tenure of ownership, the Blaisdells witnessed the onslaught of the Civil War. Both Union and Confederate troops camped out in their fields and frequently confiscated livestock, crops from their orchard, and even some of their furniture. Various legends exist about this time, from a raid that may have happened on the property to a shelter that William Blaisdell may have built in the house. After the war, the Blaisdells left the property and returned to Massachusetts.
After the Blaisdells left the property in 1868, the property was vacant until the Riley family arrived there in 1873. The Rileys was the last family to own the farm as the town of Falls Church grew. In fact, Joseph Riley would play a part in funding many of the city’s public buildings. Joseph Riley junior, who worked for the Smithsonian Institute inherited the property from his father until his death in 1946. It was in the hands of the University of Virginia until 1956 and the house remained with the Rileys daughters until the final death in 1968. The City of Falls Church acquired both the land and the house afterwards. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Today, Cherry Hill Park functions as both a museum and as Public Park operated by the City of Falls Church Virginia. Seven days a week tours are hosted here by volunteer guides. Every May and November, the farm’s Civil War heritage is remembered in events with reenactors. School programs are also hosted here regarding the Civil War. But Cherry Hill Farm always stands as a reminder of Falls Church’s rural legacy whenever one takes notice of it.
1. Friends of Cherry Hill Farm Foundation, Inc., . "Cherry Hill Farm History ." Accessed June 6, 2015. http://cherryhillfallschurch.org/history/ . 2. Friends of Cherry Hill Farm Inc. . "Cherry Hill Farm Events ." Accessed June 6, 2015. http://cherryhillfallschurch.org/annual-events-at-cherry-hill/.
Dickey, John M. National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form. Virginia Department of Historic Resources. July 26, 2019. March 4, 2019. https://www.dhr.Virginia.gov/VLR_to_transfer/PDFNoms/110-0004_Cherry_Hill_1973_Final_Nomination.pdf.