Window at the Old Falls Church
Image by Kathleen Tyler Conklin
The first church to be built after it was established by the Colonial General Assembly in 1732 was a wooden building on this site as a part of Truro Parish . It was completed in 1734 by Richard Blackburn on land donated by John Trammell. Until that time, this area was served by clergyman who lived near present-day Quantico, and the nearest church was Occoquan Church near Lorton.
The name "The Falls Church" came from its geographical location. Among the very few, widely separated churches in the parish, this church was identified as the one that was "near the falls" of the Potomac River. One of the roads which intersected near the church led to the ferry below the Little Falls. The Falls Church was the name commonly used after 1757. The name Falls Church was adopted by the community which developed around the church, and subsequently by the city when it was incorporated in 1948.
In 1762, the wood building was judged to be "greatly in decay". The vestry (the church governing body), meeting at The Falls Church, ordered a new brick building constructed on the same site. In 1763, George Washington and George William Fairfax were appointed church wardens with responsibility to contract for a new building. This was Washington’s last official act on behalf of this church after the parish was divided in 1765 and before work began. After 1765, the seat of Truro Parish, which had been here, returned to the southern part of the county and this church became the seat of the new Fairfax Parish.
Work on the new church was begun in 1767 by Colonel James Wren who had designed the building and was a member of the vestry as well. The new building was completed late in the fall of 1769. It is the oldest remaining church building north of Quantico in Virginia.