Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre

12229 Bristow Rd Bristow

Prince William County Historic Sites/Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre
Prince William Historic Preservation Division
Written By Prince William Historic Preservation Division


Established on 50 acres in 1820, the Town of Brentsville became the fourth county seat of Prince William County. By 1820, many residents had moved farther west for better farm land and the old county seat (Dumfries) was too far east for the western residents to conveniently travel. The new town of Brentsville was centrally located in Prince William County, along the major east/west road, which led from the port of Dumfries to the Shenandoah Valley. Every type of county business occurred in this courthouse, civil and criminal cases alike, for the next 70 years. In 1893, the county seat moved to Manassas, which allowed Brentsville to retain much of its 19th century character.

Brentsville During the Civil War

Brentsville was the seat of Prince William County 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) 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) also 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, posted here on scouting missions. 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 posted here to protect the Federal supply train. Confederate partisan units operated in Brentsville until the end of the war.

Other Sites to Visit

The 28-acre Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre includes five historic buildings: 1822 courthouse, 1822 jail, 1880 church, 1850 farmhouse, and a one-room schoolhouse that served the young children of Brentsville from 1929 to 1944.


Brentsville Courthouse offers a variety of special events, programs, and tours throughout the year. We have a mile long nature trail onsite and provide Passport Stamps for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground. For more information, click the link below!

Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre Special Events

Contact Us

​Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre is located at 12229 Bristow Road in Bristow, Virginia 20136. For more information, call 703-365-7895.

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