Historic preservation planning is the systematic process by which a community develops a vision, goals, and strategies for the preservation and protection of its significant historic and cultural resources and the implementation of those strategies, which are generally based on analyses of resource data and community values. Below are various programs, agencies, organizations, and source material pertinent to preservation planning in Fauquier County.
County Government Resources
- See contact information (at right) for the Fauquier County Historic Preservation Planner in the Planning Division of the Department of Community Development.
- Fauquier County Comprehensive Plan, Chapter 2B
- Fauquier County Historic Resources Plan
- Fauquier County Architectural Review Board
- Fauquier County Cemetery Field Documentation Form: Although cemeteries are one of Fauquier County’s most significant heritage resources, they are also one of the most endangered due to lack of identification and inventory, misuse, demolition by neglect, and lack of limits of burial study and mapping. To help identify and protect these important cultural resources, citizens are invited to complete the Fauquier County Cemetery Field Documentation Form.
- Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR): The Department of Historic Resources is the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office. The agency’s mission is to foster, encourage, and support the stewardship of Virginia's significant architectural, archaeological, and cultural resources. Contact DHR for more information regarding the State and Federal Historic Tax Credit Programs, the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, historic property survey work, qualified local craftsmen, the Section 106 review process, and preservation easements.
- Technical Preservation Services: Technical Preservation Services (TPS), a branch of the National Park Service, is the nation's leading provider of information and guidance on the care of historic buildings. TPS offers free publications, ranging from technical assistance with energy efficiency, window repairs, and historic masonry to help with historic tax credits for rehabilitation projects.
- Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties
- Preservation Briefs: Over 40 free historic building treatment publications. Learn about historic building treatments, including repointing mortar joints in brick walls, roofing, repair of windows, dangers of abrasive cleaning, controlling moisture, conserving energy, and more.
- Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings: First set of official NPS guidelines on how to make changes to improve energy efficiency of buildings.
- National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT)
- A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review, published by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
Fauquier County Preservation Brochures
- Historic Preservation Easements
- Maintaining Your Historic House
- National Register of Historic Places
- Protecting Archaeological Sites
- Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits
- Virginia State Cemetery Laws
- Maintaining Cemeteries
- Fauquier County Public Library, Virginiana Room
- Fauquier County National Register Property and District Nominations
- Fauquier County Historic Maps (1876 and 1914). Hard copies of the 1937 aerial maps are available in the Fauquier County GIS Department office.
- Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County
- Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation and the John K. Gott Library
- Library of Virginia
- Library of Congress
Advocacy & Educational Organizations
- Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County
- American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP): ABPP is a division of the National Park Service that promotes the preservation of significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil. The goals of the program are 1) to protect battlefields and sites associated with armed conflicts that influenced the course of our history, 2) to encourage and assist all Americans in planning for the preservation, management, and interpretation of these sites, and 3) to raise awareness of the importance of preserving battlefields and related sites for future generations. The ABPP focuses primarily on land use, cultural resource and site management planning, and public education. Grant opportunities are offered periodically.
- Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation, Inc.
- Fauquier Historical Society and Old Jail Museum
- Monroe Park and the Gold Mining Camp Museum (Parks & Rec)
- Mosby Heritage Area Association
- National Barn Alliance: National Barn Alliance seeks to provide national leadership for the preservation of America's historic barns and rural heritage through education, documentation, conservation, and networking.
- National Trust for Historic Preservation: The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a national nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places.
- Piedmont Environmental Council
- Preservation Virginia: Preservation Virginia, the statewide non-profit preservation organization, provides leadership, experience, and services to the public by developing preservation policy, programs, and strategies with individuals, organizations, and local, state, and national partners.
- Southern Fauquier Historical Society
- The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area
I have an old abandoned cemetery on my property. What are my legal obligations?
As the owner of property that includes a cemetery, you are obligated to leave the burials alone and not damage or desecrate gravestones, cemetery fencing, monuments, etc. Virginia law protects all cemeteries from willful and malicious damage, whether by the property owner or by others. You may maintain the cemetery if you wish or allow descendants or other parties to do so. You are required to allow access to the cemetery for visitation by family members or descendants and others who wish to conduct genealogical research.
Does my historic property and rehabilitation project qualify for historic tax credits?
Owning a property listed in the National Register of Historic Places or the Virginia Landmarks Register can provide economic benefits. Rehabilitation projects may qualify for tax credits through the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Incentive Program and the Virginia Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program. Eligible expenses include any work that is properly chargeable to a building’s capital account in connection with a “certified rehabilitation.” Essentially, this means that all work done to structural components and certain soft costs, like architectural and engineering fees, construction period interest and taxes, construction management costs, and reasonable developer fees, are eligible. Expenses related to new heating, plumbing, and electrical systems, updating kitchens and bathrooms, compliance with ADA regulations, and fire suppression systems are also eligible. Acquisition costs and any expense attributable to additions or enlargements of the historic building are not eligible. Rehabilitation work must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. For more information about historic tax credit program qualifications, see the following brochure: Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits
Is my property in a historic district?
Several Fauquier County historic properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places either as an individual property or as a component of a village historic district or rural historic district. Designation with National Register status does not impose restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property. National Register listing does not lead to public acquisition or require public access. National Register listing places no obligations on private property owners. Instead, listing is an honor bestowed on historic properties by the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service. Designation recognizes and documents the historic value of a property for posterity. It can encourage present and future owners to exercise good stewardship. Owners of National Register listed properties may qualify for the use of state and/or federal historic rehabilitation tax credits or the donation of historic preservation easements.
A historic overlay district is a form of zoning that is used frequently throughout the United States as a tool for preservation, and with any type of zoning, comes some land use restrictions. A historic overlay district is officially adopted by the local board of decision makers—in the case of Fauquier County, the Board of Supervisors. To date, the Board has not adopted a local historic overlay district anywhere in the County. However, the Town of Warrenton and the Town of The Plains, which are separate jurisdictions, have historic overlay districts.
To determine if your property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, contact the Planning Division of the Community Development Department at (540) 422-8210. For more information about the criteria and process for National Register designation, see the following brochure: National Register of Historic Places.
How do I begin a major maintenance or rehabilitation project of my historic building?Determining the best way to repair a building can be compared to a doctor diagnosing an illness. It is imperative that the source of a problem be identified before the symptom is treated. For example, patching a roof leak with liquid asphalt doesn’t remedy the leak. The patch fixes the symptom (the leak) for a brief time but doesn’t address the reason for the moisture problem. The symptom will return again and again if the problem isn’t addressed. The first rule of thumb of building maintenance is to be well informed before making decisions. Sometimes haste can lead to bad choices that have irrevocable consequences, which usually leads to additional maintenance problems. The National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services has excellent, in-depth source material. Preservation Briefs concerning everything from painting siding and reroofing to making your historic building more energy efficient are available free of charge.
How do I begin to preserve a historic cemetery?
First, it is important to record the location of a historic cemetery, along with any other pertinent descriptive information. Although cemeteries are one of Fauquier County’s most significant heritage resources, they are also one of the most endangered due in large part to lack of identification, inventory, and mapping. To help identify and protect these important cultural resources, citizens are invited to complete the Fauquier County Cemetery Field Documentation Form. www.fauquiercounty.gov/government/departments-a-g/gis-mapping/forms-and-information
If you have additional questions regarding cemetery laws, protection, or maintenance, contact the Planning Division of the Community Development Department at (540) 422-8210 or see the following brochures:
Someone else now owns the land where my ancestors are buried. What are my rights regarding that cemetery?
Unless a deed of sale for the property specifies retention of family ownership or otherwise indicates the cemetery is not a part of the land parcel, then most rights go to the new property owner. Virginia law requires landowners to allow access to cemeteries on private property for the purpose of visitation by family members/descendants and for genealogical research. You must give reasonable notice and abide by any restrictions the landowner may place upon frequency, hours, and duration of access.
If your property lies adjacent to the property containing your family cemetery and you feel that the cemetery has fallen into neglect, you may petition the Fauquier County Circuit Court for relief, including permission to access the property and maintain the cemetery. Heirs and descendants may petition the Court for permission to relocate your ancestor’s remains from an abandoned family cemetery.
What do I do if I discover human remains?
First, do not touch or remove anything. Displacing human remains is a Class 4 felony under Virginia law. Conviction is punishable by two to ten years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. This law applies to all human burials, whether prehistoric, historic, or modern. If you find human remains (or even bones that appear to be human), you should leave them in place and contact the local or state police immediately.
What do I do if I see willful damage to or displacement of gravestones, cemetery fences, or monuments?
Willful or malicious damage to gravestones, cemetery fences, monuments, or other burial ornaments is against the law. It is punishable by one to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. If you see this happening, take photographs if you can, and contact your local law enforcement agency or Commonwealth Attorney to report the vandalism.
What is a conservation easement? What are the benefits of placing my property in a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement that allows a landowner to maintain the scenic, natural, and/or historic value of his or her property, while conveying some property interest to a qualified organization, land trust, or government agency. A property owner continues to retain full ownership, use, and control of the land but transfers specific rights to an easement holding organization, such as the right of wide-scale development, subdivision of land, or timbering. While some easements are established for a period of years, in most instances, conservation easements are created in perpetuity.
The primary benefit of donating a conservation easement is gaining the peace of mind of knowing that your land will always be protected from development and incompatible uses. Many people use easements to establish a conservation legacy for their children and grandchildren. In addition, owners who donate conservation easements may be eligible for a charitable contribution deduction from their income taxes, provided that the easement: a) is given in perpetuity; b) is given to a qualified governmental or non-profit organization; c) has a qualified appraisal; and d) is donated exclusively for “conservation purposes” (in other words, the property must have some significant natural, scenic, historic, scientific, recreational, or open space value). For more information about conservation easements and easement programs offered to Virginia residents, see the following conservation easements page.