“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Stafford in Stafford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Site Selection / Architectural Features

Site Selection Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., November 27, 2010
1. Site Selection Marker
Site Selection
In 1791, President George Washington (who was raised in Stafford County 10 miles south of this site at Ferry Farm) appointed three Commissioners to oversee construction of the new federal capital city (later named Washington, D.C.). The Commissioners sent Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant to survey the lands along the Potomac River for adequate deposits of freestone.

L'Enfant selected Brent's Island for its bountiful supply of good-quality freestone, proximity to the capital city, and accessibility for water-transit.

On December 2, 1791, L'Enfant purchased the quarry for the federal government. Thereafter, the site was known as The Public Quarry. Today, the site is commonly known as Government Island.

The Commissioners also contracted with other nearby, private quarry owners to supply additional building material. The use of these quarries, in addition to Government Island, helped to further establish quarrying as an important industry in Stafford County.

In 1791, L'Enfant wrote to his assistant, stating, " immediately to Aquia Creek to see the qurries [sic]
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there belonging to the public - to have barracks erected upon theron for twenty men on each of these quarries, on the island purchased from Mr. George Brent...."
Architectural Features
Aquia stone was easy to carve, which made it a natural choice for intricate decorative details and trim elements around windows and doors. from the late 1600s through the 1700s, Aquia sandstone was commonly used for gravestones, boundary markers, fireplace mantels, millstones and bridges. This stone was used throughout Virginia and the mid-Atlantic colonies. During the Federal Period, intricate carving of Aquia Stone created striking features at the White House and U.S. Capitol.

Approximately two miles northwest of this site stands Aquia Episcopal Church (1751-1757), which has freestone architectural components, including keystones, quoins, and pediments. Aquia sandstone was used in other prominent Virginia buildings, such as Kenmore in Fredericksburg (ca. 1772), Gunston Hallat Mason Neck (1755-1760), and Christ Church in Alexandria (1767-1773).
Erected 2010 by Tourism and Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities, Stafford County, Virginia.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Natural Resources. A significant historical date for this entry is December 2, 1791.
Location. 38° 26.967′ N, 77° 
Architectural Features Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., November 27, 2010
2. Architectural Features Marker
22.875′ W. Marker is in Stafford, Virginia, in Stafford County. Marker can be reached from Coal Landing Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Stafford VA 22554, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Island Ownership (within shouting distance of this marker); Quarrying the Stone (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Native American Presence (about 400 feet away); Transporting the Stone (about 500 feet away); Government Island (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Government Island (approx. 0.4 miles away); Mary Kittamaquund (approx. 1.2 miles away); Peyton’s Ordinary (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Stafford.
Regarding Site Selection / Architectural Features. There are two pictures on the "Site Selection" Marker. One is a portrait of L'Enfant painted by Bryan Leister and provided by the Historical Society of Washington D.C. The other is an overhead view of Government Island, looking south down Aquia Creek, toward the Potomac River.

There are four pictures on the Architectural Features marker. The color picture features a picture of Aquia Episcopal Church, where the Keystones and Pediment are made from Aquia sandstone. On the right of the marker are three pictures. The top picture is of a fanlight, on the North Portico of the White House. The middle picture
Site Selection / Architectural Features Markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., November 27, 2010
3. Site Selection / Architectural Features Markers
Vies is to the north, with Aquia Creek in the background.
is of a Tobacco capital in the Small Senate Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. The bottom picture is of a Freestone grave marker at Aquia Episcopal Church cemetery.
Architectural Features Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., November 27, 2010
4. Architectural Features Marker
Government Island is behind the marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on January 17, 2011, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 675 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 17, 2011, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.

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Jun. 9, 2023