A book signing will occur at the Tysons Corner Barnes and Noble bookstore Friday night featuring some of the dedicated citizens of Falls Church who collaborated for the publication of a handsome new paperback volume, “Victorian Falls Church.”
The 126-page book that includes over 200 images went on sale at select Falls Church sites last month. It is one of the “Images of America” series of Arcadia Publishing, which since 1994 has solicited efforts from local communities across the nation to compile their histories, replete with abundant photographs, in smart, well-produced bindings.
The Victorian Society at Falls Church gets credit for the authorship of the new addition to the series, and those listed as its researchers, compilers and writers is a long list of familiar Falls Church names. Ron Anzalone, Shirley Camp, Kim Holien, Linda Lau, Ross Netherton, Maurice Terman and Keith Thurston wrote the book and chapter introductions and the image captions.
Two other members of the society, Terry Hooper and Adelaide Wang, assisted with the selection and compilation of the images seen in the books.
A press release from Arcadia Publishing stated, “This group has an extraordinary amount of enthusiasm and pride in the heritage of Falls Church. They sincerely hope that this book will inspire people to learn more about Falls Church and the Victorian era and that it will give impetus to the preservation of Falls Church historic properties.”
The four chapters of the book cover four time periods between 1837 and 1915, one dedicated solely to the Civil War years of 1861-1865.
Credited with assists in the effort to produce the book were many at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library in Falls Church, including Chung Ahn, Brenda Crowley, Janet Daeger-Walden, Lorna Kundert, Marta Lamas, Mary McMahon, Jo Murphy, Shirley Tildon, Lynn Stewart and Marshall Webster. Most of the images in the book are from the library’s Virginia Room collection.
In its introduction, the book reprints a quote about what life was like in Victorian Falls Church made in 1971 by Elizabeth M. Styles, the granddaughter of the owner of the Cherry Hill Farm. Born in 1893, Elizabeth Styles spent many childhood summers at the farm and in 1908 she and her parents moved to Falls Church where she remained until her death in 1981.
“Falls Church to me was a delightful little village,” she told historian Tony Wrenn. “It was a village, an honest-to-goodness village. You had brick sidewalks which the Village Improvement Society built, and then you had oil lamps on the street. Nearly everybody in town, as far as I can remember now, had from half an acre to an acre of ground. Everybody knew everybody, and there was a delightful atmosphere about this town.”
According to the book, the “birth of the village” commenced in 1837 with the influx of northern state populations to the area due to low land prices following the breakup of the large land grants of the previous century. “Small tracts of 10 to 75 acres were bought from the few Virginia families who owned then-nonproductive plantations from which slave labor had become unprofitable,” the first chapter begins. With the aid of new farming techniques and technologies, the area soon began to boom.
“By 1849, there were a sufficient number of citizens for Falls Church to be awarded a post office and the community was officially considered a village,” the chapter continues. Later, “Talk of Virginia’s secession from the Union and the pending Civil War caused a large rift in the Falls Church community. Families and friends splintered as those from the South generally favored secession and those from the North were pro-Union.”
The book includes images of a ledger of the public ballot used in Falls Church in the vote to ratify Virginia’s secession from the Union in 1861, showing that 44 citizens voted in favor of secession and 26 against. “Because of threats and intimidation, many pro-Union residents chose not to vote or had already left the area. As a Unionist recalled, ‘When the secession movement commenced, Union men were threatened if they did not leave.’”
Among the locations where the book is available for sale in Falls Church are Brown’s Hardware and the Art and Frame of Falls Church, among others.
Friday’s signing will be from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Tysons Corner Barnes and Noble, 7851-L Tysons Corner Center on Route 7.