Great Falls residents are hoping that a proposed Fairfax County program could help preserve and remediate a historic home in their community.
Fairfax County officials, working with a consultant, are in the final stages of developing a plan for implementing a resident curator program for county-owned properties.
A resident curator program enables individuals, nonprofits or community groups to provide the day-to-day management of a property, as well as the rehabilitation and continued maintenance of the property. Often these programs involve the curator living in the property as their private home while they rehabilitate and maintain it.
The draft report from county consultant includes the Turner Farm house in Great Falls on a list of about two dozen houses and other structures that the county owns and could consider for a resident curator program.
While the consultant ranked the Turner house about halfway down the list of eligible properties, members of the Great Falls Citizens Association and Great Falls Historical Society believe it would be a good candidate for a pilot project.
“It’s in a prominent place, it would be a good advertisement for the county’s program,” said Bill Canis, a GFCA board member.
The house, which is visible from Georgetown Pike, was the longtime family home of Mark Turner, a dairy farmer, and his descendents. Turners lived in the home until about five years ago, and the county acquired it in 2011.
The county had previously purchased much of the farm’s land, combining it with land from a former Nike missile launch site to create the current Turner Farm Park.
Now, the house is becoming something of an eyesore, Canis said, surrounded by a chain-link fence and overgrown grass.
“Most people driving by don’t realize that it’s nice inside,” he said.
In addition to removing an eyesore, local residents see value in preserving the home’s Queen Anne style architecture.
“This house is significant, historically, architecturally and also as a community resource,” said Jaque Olin, an advocate for preserving the Victorian-era farmhouse.
“There is a lot of intact late Victorian interior that is still there,” Canis said.
There is a sense of urgency in ensuring that the home is preserved soon, Olin said. While the Turner family did take care of some of the major exterior repairs and maintained the interior, some exterior features like the front porch are at risk of deteriorating.
“There are elements of the exterior that are seriously in need of preservation,” she said.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to review the draft resident curator program this fall.