Why Is It Named Annandale?

We’re on a bit of a NoVA kick this week and wanted to do a little digging into the origin of another name, Annandale. Maybe you already know this, but I definitely didn’t.

The European history of the area dates all the way back to the 17th century, when, in 1685, Colonel William H. Fitzhugh purchased close to 24,000 acres of untamed wilderness near the Potomac River. The descendants of Fitzhugh build an estate on the land and named it Ravensworth. Three total homes were built on the property, Oak Hill, and Ossian Hall.

- click image for more -
Oak Hill
Oak Hill

Source: annandaleva.blogspot.com

Ravensworth burned under mysterious circumstances in 1925. Side note, and this is infuriating … in 1959, the Annandale Fire Department intentionally burned Ossian Hall as a training exercise for the department, and to make way for the Bristow subdivision. Fortunately, Oak Hill is still around, and was recently purchased in 2008 for $1.15 after a foreclosure.

The land that made up much of Annandale was occupied by the Fitzhugh family for over six generations and eventually, it became one of the largest tobacco plantations in the area. Interestingly, at one point, Fitzhugh leased some of the property to French Huguenots, who had fled religious persecution in France.

Colonel Fitzhugh never lived on the plantation, and when he died, the land passed to two sons, William Fitzhugh Jr. getting the southern portion and Henry Fitzhugh getting the northern portion (which includes today’s Annandale).

So, as to the origin of the name Annandale. The plantation name was no longer used to refer to the area and the community took on the name Annandale, after the Scottish village located at the mouth of the River Annan. Oh, and the neighboring town Dumfries, Scotland also found its way to Virginia as the name of the town on Quantico Creek.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.
  • Mary Pudner

    Does anyone have a map of where Ossian Hall and Oak Hill were in relation to today’s landscape? My ancestors, Asbury Dickins and Mary Randolph Dickins lived at Ossian Hall. Mary Randolph died in a carriage accident at Oak Hill, and I am trying to envision how far Oak Hill was from Ossian Hall. Little River Turnpike near Ravensworth Road and believe this is not far from where Ossian Hall was located. If anyone can help I would appreciate it very much. Thank you for sharing the info above. How could the fire dept have burned down a historical home like Ossian Hall? It was even protected during the Civil War by both Washington and Richmond because of ties to President George Washington.

    • Karen Turner Eshleman

      I grew up up the street from Oak Hill. It is located at Wakefield Chapel Road and Braeburn Drive! It’s still there!

    • PelPres

      4716 Wakefield Chapel Road – approx midpoint between Braddock Rd. and Little River Tpk. – between Pappas and Braeburn, hidden behind a bunch of tall shrubs and landscaping.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_Hill_(Annandale,_Virginia)

  • Sheila

    I can’t help you with the area question, but I can tell you that no fire department can burn down a house unless it has been through a ton of rules, regulations, and court orders. It HAD to also be requested by the current owner too. My husband was a fireman and even in the 1960’s it took over a year to get the permit to do it. Of course when it passed all the requirements, firemen used it to take care of it’s destruction, and train new firemen. It was the least expensive way for home owners to take down a building once it was considered condemned. Today it’s even more difficult to get a permit and can take up to 3 years. (depending on who you know you may get it sooner.) Now firemen have much better schools for training.

  • Sheila

    Go here, you may get an idea about where it’s at. This is very interesting. Take a look.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/30/AR2006033002339.html