Fire and Irony is Fireony

Annandale FD and the house that was.

Annandale circa 1950, firehouse left of center

Annandale is in central Fairfax County, Virginia, a few miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

It sits at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Little River Turnpike, (Columbia was once a “turnpike” too.) A turnpike was a private road with tollhouses to collect the tolls about every five miles. The “pike” refers to the long pole dropped across the road till payment occurred. Both roads date from around 1805.

Tollhouse, circa 1875

It’s also about 15 miles north of George and Martha Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. The Washingtons’ are the most famous Fairfax County residents but their descendants, some prominent in their own right, also lived in the county.

Martha Washington had two children from her first marriage to Daniel Parke Custis: Jacky and Patsy.

Jacky, like the sons of many prominent men, amounted to little; he married young, had four kids and died in 1781.

His widow was Eleanor Calvert Custis; Eleanor sent the two youngest kids, George and Eleanor, to live with the Washingtons’ at Mount Vernon.

Eleanor Stuart

She remarried in 1783 to David Stuart, a physician, politician and friend of the former president.

David Stuart

Eleanor and David Stuart eventually settled at Ossian Hall, located in west Annandale.

Ossian Hall was part of a huge 22,000 acre land grant called Ravensworth.

The Stuarts lived at Ossian Hall until they died and during that time George and Martha Washington frequently visited, the Marquis de Lafayette was there in 1832 and finally, George Mason made numerous visits to Ossian Hall.

Ossian Hall was a faded gem which fell prey to suburban expansion before historic preservation was considered important.

On September 3, 1959, members of the Annandale Volunteer Fire Department burned Ossian Hall as a training exercise. A crowd was on hand to observe the spectacle.

Annandale displays Ossian Hall on their patch, the fire department equivalent of attaching a scalp to your belt.

Despite knowing that Ossian Hall was built in 1783, they also use 1730 on the patch.

All in all, an ironic bit of local lore.

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