Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre
12229 Bristow Rd.
Bristow VA 20136
House Tours: $5 for adults, free for children under six, $3 for active military, $3 per person for groups of 10 or more and $2 per student for student programs (call for reservations) and accompanying adults are free.
Pricing varies for special programs, please see calendar for details.
Donations to support historic preservation efforts in the County are gratefully accepted.
The Town of Brentsville was established on 50 acres in 1820 to become the County seat of Prince William County. By 1820 many residents had moved farther west for better farm land and the old county seat of Dumfries was too far east for the western residents to travel conveniently. The new town of Brentsville was centrally located in Prince William County along the major east/west road that led from the port of Dumfries to the Shenandoah Valley. In 1893 the county seat moved to Manassas; and Brentsville became a rural community which allowed it to retain much of its 19th century character.
The Brentsville site consists of 28 acres with five historic buildings and various archaeological sites. These include
the 1822 Courthouse and Jail the ca. 1850 Haislip-Hall House ca. 1875 Union Church and the 1928 One Room Schoolhouse and the Brentsville Tavern archaeological site. The site also includes a mile long nature trail highlighting the area’s natural resources.
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre interprets the history of Brentsville and Prince William County through three centuries. Currently the Courthouse Union Church and Haislip/Hall farmhouse have been restored. Work is underway for the restoration on the Jail and development of a Visitor Center and museum. Once completed the site will give visitors a unique look into the history of not just Prince William County but Northern Virginia.
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 are offered Thursday through Monday from May 1 through October 31 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. or by appointment. The grounds and Union Church are available for rental.
Learn more from our videos
You can take a virtual tour of Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre and learn more about its rich history. There is so much to see and discover! You can also visit the Haislip-Hall Log Cabin Home to learn more about family and farm life in the mid 1800s.
Brenstville Joins Other House Museums
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre is a participating member of the Historic House Museum Consortium of Metropolitan Washington D.C. Please visit www.dchousemuseums.org 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!
Programs for School and Youth Groups
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 an understanding of the lives of Prince William residents in the past.
Upcoming Programs and Event
Prince William County is actively participating in the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Brentsville Historic Center will host local activities to mark Virginia's commemoration of this 150th anniversary. For more information visit http://www.visitpwc.com/ or http://www.virginiacivilwar.org.
Learn about our efforts to restore the jail dating back to 1822 and what you can do to help!
- 1686 Brent Town Grant made by King James II to Brent family including present location of Brentsville
- 1737 land was first surveyed
- 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
- 1835 William Hyden a freed black is falsely arrested as a runaway slave; attempts to sell him into slavery unsuccessful; escapes from Brentsville in 1836.
- 1853 Samuel Haislip built a new farmhouse off of Vint Hill Road now located on Brentsville site
- 1860 (Winter) Prince William Cavalry formed at Brentsville in response to the John Brown raids in Harper’s Ferry
- 1861 (April 1) Prince William County magistrates vote to endorse Virginia’s secession
- 1861 (May 23) Citizens of Virginia vote to secede from the United States. Several Prince William County regiments formed.
- 1862 (March 3) Last day of court in Prince William County until end of war
- 1863 (Oct. 14) Battle of Bristoe Station Union troops occupy Brentsville
- 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
- 1928-1960s Courthouse and schoolhouse used as community recreational space
- 1970 Prince William Park Authority takes possession of park and buildings
- 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
Brentsville Civil War History
||Brentsville was the Prince William County seat 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) was 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) were 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 was posted here on scouting missions and 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 was posted here to protect the Federal supply train. Confederate partisan units operate in Brentsville until the end of the war.
For more information contact:
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre
12229 Bristow Rd.
Bristow VA 20136
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.
For more information on historic resources in the Prince William County area click here.