Haymarket – Where Heritage Meets Progress

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Story and Photos By Amy Falkofske

Due to its growth over the past decade, you might think of the small town of Haymarket as an up-and-coming place. But this quaint little town has a colorful history dating as far back as the pre-Civil War era.

Founded in 1799 by William Skinker, who owned the land, Haymarket was almost Skinkerville, according to the town’s interim clerk and director of community and business relations, Denise Andrews.

Skinker wanted the town named after him, but that didn’t happen, and it’s not clear exactly how the town got its name. There are two possibilities according to Andrews. One is that the town used to sell hay. The other is that it was named after a city in England called Haymarket.

In November 1862 during the Civil War, federal troops marched in and burned nearly the entire town according to townofhaymarket.org. Only four buildings remained. One was the town’s courthouse, which is now St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. According to Andrews, the town’s oldest remaining building is McCormick House on Fayette Street.

Haymarket Museum Hosts Numerous Exhibits & Local Clubs

Another historical building is the Haymarket Museum. Built in 1883, it started out as a two-room school house for grades one through 12. It later became a small lending library and meeting facility according to Andrews. The building didn’t become the museum until the early 2000s. In 2002, it suffered an electrical fire. The town historian at the time, Sarah Turner, campaigned to have the building turned into a museum after it was reopened two years later.

The museum features rotating exhibits from May through December focusing on Haymarket’s past, present and future. The list of 2016 exhibits included Salute to Law Enforcement, Salute to the Railroad, History of Haymarket, Haymarket Quilters and Christmas in Haymarket 1943.

The train exhibit is a yearly one that involves the Regency Railroad Club, a group of retired train enthusiasts and railroad workers. “The children love it. They come out, and they learn more about the rail system, how the trains work and their importance,” Andrews said.

The museum also hosts the Haymarket Quilters Unlimited every year. Quilters Unlimited is a quilters’ guild with branches all over the country.

The Christmas exhibit also happens annually. This past Christmas, one of the museum’s volunteers, who was four years old at the time, provided the museum with artifacts and pictures from the year 1943.

Four years ago, the museum received a grant to complete the addition of a new deck. With this addition, the town hopes to start having outdoor exhibits and become a destination for school field trips for students learning about Virginia’s history.

“It’s nice to have a little town history where the kids can actually come here and learn about the town and the surrounding area,” Andrews said.

The museum is also looking to use its iconic red caboose donated by Norfolk Southern as a birthday party venue.

Haymarket Hosts Four Annual Events for All Ages

In addition to what’s going on at the museum, the town holds four major events every year that bring in people from all over the county and the surrounding areas.

The events start in April with Earth Day. This event aptly focuses on town cleanup and involves local Boy and Girl Scouts. There are also learning centers and stations for children. Sponsored by local businesses like Dominion Virginia Power, the centers help the kids learn about how to take care of the environment. The town holds a large shredding event as well.

Next up is Health and Fitness Day. Haymarket prides itself on being a walkable town with many historic buildings, boutique shops and restaurants off the town’s main thoroughfare, Washington Street. Each year the town brings in groups from the health and fitness industry, such as doctors, dentists, chiropractors and representatives from fitness gyms. The motto for the day is HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Living).

Haymarket Day happens every September and is the largest and longest running event that the town holds. With over 25,000 attendees and over 200 vendors participating, 2016, the 28th anniversary of the event, was a banner year. Andrews pointed out that Haymarket Day is the largest street festival in the region.

The annual holiday celebration is not to be missed either. Along with the museum’s Christmas exhibit, Santa and Mrs. Claus ride in on a fire truck, and kids and their families can get free pictures with Santa. Local schools perform Christmas carols and holiday music. The town relies upon local Boy Scouts to gather donations for the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run. The holiday celebration also includes Taste of Haymarket where attendees can sample food from the menus of local restaurants.

Asked how many people live in Haymarket, Andrews said, “We have approximately 1,800 residents, and about half of those are children. This is a very family-oriented town.”

Haymarket may be a small town, but it is able to support surrounding areas in addition to its residents, and you might say it’s got the best of both worlds.

“We are a small town of 1,800, but you will get the same amenities and accommodations that you would in larger jurisdictions like Vienna, Falls Church or Fairfax. Yet, we’re still that small little quaint town. We have all those things that you will find in the city, but we still have that small hometown feel,” Andrews said.

But even if you don’t live in Haymarket, you’ll still be welcomed just the same. “Haymarket is everybody’s hometown. We love and embrace everybody,” Andrews said.

Amy Falkofske (afalkofske@princewilliamliving.com) is a freelance writer and the owner/photographer of Beautiful Moments by Amy Photography. She is working on an MA in film-television with a concentration in script writing from Regent University. She lives in Bristow with her husband and two sons.


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