Stempson House Starting to Feel Like Home for Resident Curator

There’s nothing like a housewarming gift to make a house start to feel like a home.

StempsonSo, the Park Authority delivered a gift to Resident Curator Steven McCullough in May to help give his new house a custom touch. David Buchta and Stephanie Langton (pictured) visited Stempson House to present McCullough with a shadow box that held: a photo of the lease signing; a symbolic key with the Stempson house address, 9501 Furnace Road, engraved on it; and a plaque that reads…

Stempson House

Established: c. 1937

Re-established: 2017

McCullough is the first of what the Park Authority hopes will be many Resident Curators of its historic properties. The underused properties selected for the Resident Curator Program (RCP) have historic value, but the Park Authority has not had the means to preserve or manage them for public access.

The RCP finds people or organizations with the skills to refurbish the properties and allows them to use the properties rent-free while sprucing them up. In return, the resident curators agree to allow limited public access to the historic properties so residents of the community can learn about the history of these buildings.

Since McCullough signed his lease on December 3, 2017, he has been keeping a blog, “Stempson House: A Resident Curator’s Journey,” that charts his work on the house. The Stempson House was originally built as part of the Lorton Reformatory and Occoquan Workhouse. Likely constructed by inmates, it was a home to one of the prison guards and later converted to office space and used as the security office.

In January, five weeks into the restoration, McCullough was still trying to make the house habitable for himself and his family. He wrote in his blog:

“Projects included about 40 hours worth of scraping the walls of ceilings of cracked and peeling paint, plaster and old joint compound and about 32 hours of skim coating and priming followed by a fresh coat of paint on all the walls and ceilings. The upstairs has fresh carpet and all the hardwood floors on the first floor and staircase have been sanded and are ready for stain and refinishing. The kitchen is looking like a kitchen with brand new tile floors, base cabinets are in place and secured and granite countertops were just installed yesterday. I’m just waiting on my appliances and to hang the wall cabinets and the kitchen will be almost complete. The bathtub and surround were reglazed and looks practically brand new.

The plumbing was all repaired and updated in the basement and a new chimney liner was installed in preparation for a new boiler that will be installed as soon as the well is completed and hooked up. The list of needed upgrades and projects is still long, but the last 5 weeks has made a big dent and I am looking forward to moving in and making the Stempson House my home.”

McCullough received his certificate of occupancy at the end of February and moved in soon after. He lives there now with his daughter, dog and cat.

Since his January blog post, McCullough has finished work on the kitchen and is turning his sights on some exterior work this summer. His project list includes repairing and repainting the screened porch and wood deck. He has planted a new flower bed and will work on removing all overgrowth and vegetation from the house and surrounding landscape.

With added curb appeal, this property is definitely moving from Stempson House to McCullough’s Stempson home.

Author Carol Ochs works in the Park Authority’s Public Information Office.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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