Culpeper County was formed from part of Orange County in 1749. The county seat, originally named Fairfax but changed to Culpeper in 1870 to avoid the obvious confusion with the Northern Virginia town and county, was established and platted in a gridiron pattern in 1759. The site was a major turnpike crossroads, and the railroad arrived in 1854. The area was heavily fought over during the Civil War. Because U.S. 29 bypassed Culpeper to the east, it has retained the feeling of a small, agriculturally based town. Commercial downtown Culpeper reflects the impact of the city's 1888 Fire Code—enacted following a disastrous fire—which required brick- or stone-faced facades and slate or metal roofs.
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