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Historic Preservation

Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre


The buildings are open for general tours Thursday through Monday from May to October and open by appointment from November through April.  The grounds are open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day. A self guided interpretative trail and a picnic area are available. 

​Tours: $5 for adults, free for children under six, $3 for active military, $3 per person for groups of 10 or more and $3 per student for student programs (call for reservations) and accompanying adults are free.
​Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre is located at 12229 Bristow Road in Bristow, Virginia 20136.  For more information, call 703-365-7895. 



Enjoy a short video of our Brentsville Site


What Happened Here?

Established on 50 acres in 1820, the Town of Brentsville became the fourth county seat of Prince William County.  By 1820, many residents had moved farther west for better farm land and the old county seat (Dumfries) was too far east for the western residents to conveniently travel.  The new town of Brentsville was centrally located in Prince William County, along the major east/west road, which led from the port of Dumfries to the Shenandoah Valley.  Every type of county business occurred in this courthouse, civil and criminal cases alike, for the next 70 years.  Finally, in 1893, the county seat moved to Manassas, which allowed Brentsville to retain much of its 19th century character.

What is Here Today?

The 28-acre Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre includes five historic buildings: 1822 courthouse, 1822 jail, 1880 church, 1850 farmhouse, and a one-room schoolhouse that served the young children of Brentsville from 1929 to 1944.  

There is so much to see and discover!  

Brentsville Jail is Open for tours!



Brentsville one-room schoolhouse      




Nature Trail


A mile-long nature trail traverses the forested section of the park and reveals a scenic view of Broad Run.  This historic site also offers many acres of open space for family picnics or a peaceful spot to read a book.

Brentsville Trail Guide

Connect to our local natural resources and learn more about the animals, water and land in our community with a fun activities guide.  You can pick up the Brentsville Trail Guide at the Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre or click here to print a copy at home.  Earn a free wristband when you complete the Brentsville Trail Guide. 


Haislip-Hall Farm House



Visit the Haislip-Hall Farm House and garden to learn

more about family life in the mid-1800s.


UNION Church 




Brentsville Union Church was built ca. 1880 and sits on a lot deeded to The Trustees of the Union Church in 1871 by George M. Goodwin, who owned Tavern Square. It was erected "for the use of the Congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church south, the Presbyterian Episcopalian, the New and both branches of the old school Baptist Churches, worshiping in Brentsville". 

Now the church is available for special occasion rental, please see more information here.




Brentsville in the Civil War

Brentsville was the seat of Prince William County during the Civil War. In response to John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859, the Prince William Cavalry (Co. A Virginia Cavalry) formed here, on the courthouse lawn in January 1860. The ladies of Brentsville made a flag and presented it to the company. Other Confederate units from Prince William County such as Ewell Guards (Co. A. 49th Virginia Infantry) also organized and drilled here.

Like many Virginian towns, Brentsville suffered heavily at the hands of both armies. Confederate General Eppa Hunton, a Brentsville resident and lawyer, had his house and other buildings destroyed. The Hampton Legion, among other units, posted here on scouting missions.  Several homes and churches served as hospitals. The county clerk's office was torn down and its bricks used for camp chimneys. Part of the ca. 1822 courthouse roof was torn off and many county records were either destroyed or taken by soldiers as souvenirs. Capt. Andrew McHenry of the 13th Pennsylvania Infantry wrote of Brentsville in 1864 "the houses generally are in ruin."

The Battle of Bristoe Station fought three miles west on Oct. 14 1863 brought combat to Brentsville's doorstep. During the battle, Federal General John Buford's cavalry posted here to protect the Federal supply train. Confederate partisan units operated in Brentsville until the end of the war.


Visiting Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre

From Interstate 95: Take Rt. 234 North (Exit 152B); travel seven and a half miles and make a left onto Independent Hill Drive. Then make your immediate right onto Bristow Rd. Brentsville is five miles on the right.

From Interstate 66: Take Rt. 234 South (Exit 44); travel 4.5 miles and turn right onto Rt. 28 south (Nokesville Rd.). Travel 1.5 miles and make a left onto Rt. 619 (Bristow Rd.); Brentsville is four miles on the left.



Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre is a participating member of the Historic House Museum Consortium of Metropolitan Washington D.C.


Please visit to learn about more than 40

historic house museums in the Washington DC area including

Mount Vernon Riversdale the White House and many more in Virginia Maryland and Washington DC!




Educators and Youth Group Leaders are invited to Brentsville for special Programs for Students and youth groups. We offer a variety of activities to help youth gain an appreciation of days gone by and historical perspective on the lives of Prince William residents. 


Brentsville Timeline

1686- Brent Town Grant made by King James II to Brent family including present location of Brentsville

1779- Commonwealth of Virginia confiscates the land from the Bristow family due to their British loyalties

1779-1820- Land was rented by the Commonwealth for farming and timber

1820- Town of Brentsville established by the Virginia General Assembly as the new Prince William County seat

1822- Brentsville courthouse, jail, clerk of court's office, and tavern completed

1853 Samuel Haislip built a new farmhouse off of Vint Hill Road now located on Brentsville site

1861 (April 1) Prince William County magistrates vote to endorse Virginia's secession

1862 (March 3) Last day of court in Prince William County until end of war

1870 (Oct. 17) First County Board of Supervisors meeting in courthouse with five supervisors

1874 Brentsville Union Church completed

1893 County seat moved to Manassas

1928 Brentsville one room schoolhouse built for grades 1-5 school was previously held in the courthouse

2004 Prince William County Historic Preservation Division assumes management of site

2006 Courthouse and Union Church restored

2008 Haislip/Hall house restored

2010 Jail stabilization begins

2017 Jail reopens for tours 



Underground rr 


Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails programBrentsville Courthouse was named a part of the National Underground Railroad in 2008. Learn more about the Underground Railroad and specifically about the connection between Brentsville and the Underground Railroad. 

​We are a Blue Star Museum.  Learn more at   

We are a Certified Wildlife Habitat. 


For more information contact:

Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre
12229 Bristow Rd.
Bristow VA 20136

For more information on historic resources in the Prince William County area click here.
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