We see the signs around Virginia that say "George Washington Slept Here" but unless you take a step often the beaten path you won't find some of the other signs of famous faces in history. One of those signs is hidden in Fairfax Station at the St. Mary of Sorrows Church just off of Route 123.
St Mary of Sorrows Church was built from 1858-1860 with lumber milled locally by railroad workers living in the area. The only item that was purchased to complete the church was the bell installed in the tower. As the battles of the civil war moved through Virginia the church became one of the many field hospitals in the area. With the Fairfax Railroad Depot only a few miles down the road, soldiers from the Battle of Manassas were transported to the area and then transferred to the church for treatment.
One of those at the church to care for the wounded was Clara Barton, who made the church her headquarters in 1862. During the worst days of battle over 8000 soldiers are believed to have passed through the area and Clara Barton stayed at the church until the last soldier was evacuated to Washington. During her stay at the church she conceived the plans that would later become known as the American Red Cross.
The next time you drive through the Fairfax Station area take a few minutes to look at St Mary of Sorrows Church. It is amazing to consider that such as small unassuming white church is the birthplace of an organization that millions of people today depend on whenever a disaster strikes.