Town of Washington

Washington Town Hall

At the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Town of Washington, Virginia, was officially established by the Virginia Assembly in 1796. The Town also is the county seat for Rappahannock County. The Town of Washington is a National Historic Landmark and since the 1800s has been called Little Washington to distinguish it from big Washington, DC., less than 70 miles away.

Little Washington is little, more like an English village than a town, with a population of less than 150 persons, not including two horses, one llama, a flock of sheep and a dozen or so chickens who live in an ornate chicken house with stained glass windows in the Historic District. To get a sense of the whimsical, you can sit on a bench in the center of the town and watch farmers driving John Deere tractors loaded with hay bales go by an antique Rolls Royce or stretch limos parked near the The Inn at Little Washington.

The town’s history and architecture has elevated it to the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. Of the 28 Washingtons in the United States, the “records very conclusively disclose” that this town, “the first Washington of all”, was surveyed and platted by George Washington on the 24th of July (old style), 1749. He was assisted by John Lonem and Edward Corder as chainmen. By the General Assembly of Virginia it was officially established as a town in 1796 and incorporated in 1894. Today, Washington serves as the county seat of Rappahannock County and is home not only to the famous Inn at Little Washington but also to several bed and breakfasts, shops, galleries and churches. 

The main road serving Washington is U.S. Route 211 Business/U.S. Route 522 Business. This road follows Warren Avenue and Main Street through the town and is the old alignment of U.S. Route 211 and U.S. Route 522, which now passes just southeast of the town limits. Via US 211 and US 522, US 211 Bus/US 522 Bus provides access to Luray to the west, Culpeper to the south, Warrenton to the west and Front Royal to the north.

The Town is governed by the Town Council, composed of five council members, a mayor and a treasurer, all of whom serve four-year terms. In its capacity as the legislative authority for the town, the council deliberates and votes on legislation, town programs, budgets and approves funding for town services. The mayor, as chief executive officer of the town, presides over the monthly meetings of the Town Council and votes as a member of the council, but has no veto power. S/He is the head of the town government for all of its ceremonial purposes. The Town Council, by a majority of its members, elects a vice mayor from its membership to serve a four-year term. Additionally, the Town Council also appoints a town attorney.