1954-1958: Terra Incognita

Farr Tract Revisited



Right around this time the new property near Fairfax that had been offered to the Board of Control in January came into play. Simply known as the Farr tract, the 146-acre parcel was located just south of the Town of Fairfax, just beyond the southern terminus of Mechanic Street (now known as University Drive) and along Payne Street (now known as Ox Road/Va. Route 123). The land was owned by Wilson M. Farr, a retired attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and his daughter in-law, Viola Orr. The land had been in the Farr family since the eighteenth century. By June 1958 the Town of Fairfax had begun purchase of the land from Farr and Orr for about $300,000. On June 17 Mayor Wood wrote Governor Almond alerting him to the availability of the property.[1] One week later, Wood made an official offer of the property to the University of Virginia.[2]

Because it was located away from Ravensworth and closer to the Sunset Hills site, the Farr tract was acceptable to the Board of Visitors at Charlottesville. The low initial cost also helped its cause.  All parties involved in what had become a protracted selection process seemed optimistic about the Farr tract either because of price, location, or perhaps because it was a new property that fit all of the prerequisites. After some discussion, the Board of Visitors accepted the Town of Fairfax’s offer of the Farr property for the site of the new branch college in December 1958. The Town of Fairfax completed the purchase of the land from Wilson Farr and Viola Orr on February 9, 1959, and deeded the land to the University the next day for the sum of ten dollars.[3]In taking the initiative and securing the Farr tract, the Town of Fairfax saved the day for higher education in Northern Virginia by breaking the deadlock and allowing for the process of building the permanent facility to begin.

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