In 1798, Richard Ratcliffe donated four acres of land for the construction of the third Fairfax Courthouse in the town of Providence, which is presently the City of Fairfax. In 1799, construction began on the Fairfax County, Virginia Courthouse, which was built next to present day Chain Bridge Road. A year later the third Fairfax courthouse was completed.
On June 1, 1861, the Battle of Fairfax Court House became the first land engagement of the American Civil War, with the first death of a soldier in action and the first wounding of an officer, after a Union scouting party clashed with the local militia guarding the Third Fairfax Courthouse.
During the course of the U.S. Civil War the Fairfax Courthouse was damaged several times as the structure changed hands between the Confederacy and the Union.
In present day the Fairfax Courthouse is the site of the Historic Records Center.