New residents wanted to occupy and rehab historic Mount Gilead house in Centreville

Mount Gilead in Centreville (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

Fairfax County is beginning the process later this month of selecting the next inhabitants of the 238-year-old Mount Gilead property in Centreville.

The Fairfax County Parks Authority (FCPA) has scheduled a June 20 public Zoom meeting to discuss Mount Gilead’s inclusion in the county’s Resident Curator Program.

Under the program, the county leases out a historic property to a private citizen or nonprofit group who will occupy it long-term for free in exchange for an agreement to rehabilitate and maintain the property.

The June 20 meeting is an “introductory conversation” that will allow interested parties to get more information about what exactly the county is looking for in terms of a curator for the property, FCPA spokesperson Ben Boxer wrote FFXnow in an email.

In addition, on Saturday, June 24, there will be an in-person open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. where members of the community and prospective applicants to the program can visit the property and ask questions.

Normally, Mount Gilead is only open to the public once a year during the annual Centreville Day celebration, which is being held on Oct. 14 this year.

While other properties in the program have been adapted into an adult day support center and a public park, only residential use applications will be considered for this particular property.

“Given the historical significance of this site, it was determined that residential use best befits the long-term goals of the property and the preservation of the historic integrity of the site,” Boxer told FFXnow.

Mount Gilead in Centreville was first built in 1785 as a combined residence and tavern. During the Civil War, it housed both Union and Confederate soldiers. Local lore says it was the headquarters for Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, famed for being replaced by Robert E. Lee.

In the 1930s, ’50s, and ’60s, it underwent several notable remodelings that included additions. It has since been recorded on the Virginia Landmarks Survey, as well as in the 1969 Historic American Buildings Survey.

FCPA acquired the 6-acre property in 1996, but it has remained unoccupied ever since, with the county making continuous repairs over the last few decades.

While resident curators get to live on the property rent-free, they are responsible for all the costs associated with rehabilitation and maintenance.

A strictly-defined “treatment plan with respect to the preservation of the house itself” is determined by the county. This plan is “not open to definition by potential curators,” Boxer told FFXnow.

“Applications, including the proposed use and curator workplan, will be evaluated by a committee and to undergo a public comment period before a decision is made. The curator workplan and investment will be consistent with the requirements of the treatment plan,” Boxer continued.

Plus, the resident curator must also provide “reasonable” and “periodic” access to the public.

While there’s no timetable yet for when the county will select the next inhabitants for Mount Gilead, it did take close to four years from when plans were first submitted to new occupants moving into Herndon’s Ellmore Farmhouse.