Historic Heart, Modern Beat: Manassas’ 150th Anniversary

Milestones deserve celebrations.

For the City of Manassas, we’re commemorating our 150th Anniversary (1873-2023) by highlighting what makes our City special. Continue reading below for examples of how our “Historic Heart and Modern Beat” is woven into the many sites, attractions, and industries in Manassas, and how you can join the anniversary celebrations!
More about the 150th Anniversary


The rickety chatter of trains on tracks was nothing new for Manassas residents in 1861. After all, the railroad junction at the crossroads village went back to the previous decade when by 1851 tracks reached Tudor Hall, which became the future Manassas Junction, now Manassas.

But it must have been a surprise when soldiers deboarded train cars on Friday, July 19, 1861, at Manassas Junction in preparation for the July 21, 1861, First Battle of Manassas as it was the first time in history that railroads were used to transport troops to a battlefield. That battlefield is now federally preserved as the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Confederate troops boarded freight and cattle cars at present-day Delaplane (then called Piedmont Station) to travel 30 miles east to Manassas. On Sunday morning, July 21, they marched the remaining seven miles to the battlefield near the tributary known as Bull Run, to get into position for the first major land battle of the Civil War.

Today, the 1914-built Manassas Railroad Depot station services commuters utilizing the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) connecting passengers to Washington, D.C. while Amtrak lines run from Lynchburg through Manassas and connect Manassas to the entire country by rail.

Town Hall

Built in 1914 as Manassas Town Hall (known as Harry J. Parrish Town Hall) this red brick building at 9025 Center Street in Historic Downtown Manassas was the meeting place for the Town Council chamber and offices on the second floor. Its first floor housed the Manassas Volunteer Fire Company (MVFC) with two bays for fire trucks until 1956 when it moved across the street to its new station.

In 1987 a new City Hall building was opened, and the seat of government for the City of Manassas moved next door to 9027 Center Street. City Hall is undergoing renovations expected to be completed by the end of 2023. The historic, red brick “Town Hall” is now home to City of Manassas Voter Registration and Elections and still serves as an important landmark in Downtown.


Since its founding in the mid-1800s as a railroad town, the City of Manassas has been tagged as a hub for innovation.

Fast forward to the 20th century, and IBM – one of the largest corporations in the world – enters the scene in 1968 announcing their purchase of abandoned farmland to build a 250,000-square-foot manufacturing and laboratory facility. It would be the first such IBM facility in the state of Virginia. Thirty years later, in 1997, Lockheed Martin moved into the former IBM site.

Next door, the 21st century welcomed Micron Technology, one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies with the Manassas plant as the only one in the U.S. where semiconductor memory storage is produced. In 2018, Manassas made history as the City secured the largest capital investment in Virginia’s modern history, announcing Micron will invest $3 billion by 2030 in the Manassas community as we continue to be a regional hub for technology and advanced manufacturing industries.

Historic Sites: Annaburg

Millionaire brewer Robert Portner (1837-1906) built Annaburg in 1892, naming it after his wife, Anna, and Annaburg Castle on the Rhine River in his native Germany. It's described as a Classical Revival structure with Prussian influence designed by architect Gustav Friebus who also drafted plans for the Washington Monument.

In its day, this 2,000-acre property was a central feature and the pride of Manassas hosting the annual Piedmont Virginia Dairy Festival, Fourth of July fireworks, and welcoming the community in the winter to ice skate on the estate’s pond.

Today, the house sits on 3.65 acres and is the City’s newest park, which opened in 2019. From dawn to dusk, the grounds are open for walks, picnics, and special events. Recognizing its historical and architectural significance, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources placed Annaburg on the Virginia Landmarks Register in December 2021. In April 2022, the site was included in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service.

Arts and Culture

As the smoke and rubble cleared in the aftermath of the 1861-1865 Civil War and the 1905 Great Fire of Manassas, out of the ashes rose a new culture. A culture celebrating the arts was generating a breath of fresh air.

First, Conner’s Opera House on Center Street was built circa 1907; into the teens and 1920s it was the place for shows and plays. When the motion picture industry broke out, the first movie theater in Manassas opened prior to 1926 as the “Dixie Moving Picture Theatre” on Main Street (now The Lemonade Bakery on 9410 Main St.). This building was so narrow that only four seats fit on each side of a center aisle.

Manassas’ love for the arts continues into the 21st century. In 2010, Hylton Performing Arts Center opened as a haven for art lovers. Soaring nearly nine stories tall with an artistic blend of contemporary copper, glass, and masonry, the state-of-the-art facility opened on George Mason University’s Science Technology Campus in Manassas presenting a variety of performances and events by local performing artists including Manassas Symphony Orchestra, Manassas Ballet Theatre, and Manassas Chorale.

celebrate With Us!

9431 West Street
Manassas, Virginia 20110
Copyright © 2023 Manassas
Manassas - Historic Heart. Modern Beat.
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