Fairfax City is expected to return the historic Moore-McCandlish house to the family that gave it to the city four years ago in hopes of seeing it restored and turned into a public park.

If the house, sitting on 1.3 acres of land in the center of the city, is returned, the family hopes to lease it to a bank or business that will restore it, according to F. Shields McCandlish. McCandlish's 95-year-old mother, Mary L. McCandlish, owns the 1838 frame house.

"It's on a historic corner" opposite the Fairfax Court House at the intersection of Rtes. 123 and 236, "and we want to do everything we can to preserve the house," McCandlish said this week.

His family sued the city to get the property back, he said, "because the city has let the house go to pot. . . to ruin. They haven't even mown the grass or raked leaves or painted."

The Moore-McCandlish house is one of three historic buildings the city owns but has no plans for and has declined to spend any money to restore.

The council appropriated $10,000 last spring for roof and other emergency repairs to the McCandlish house but backed away from its announced plans to spend $100,000 to restore it. It also voted $8,500 for minor repairs to the old Town Hall.

The council formed the nonprofit Historic Fairfax City Inc. last year to raise private funds for restoration of the town hall, built at the turn of the century, and the other city-owned historic property, the 1805 Earp's Ordinary.

Both are located a block from the Moore-McCandlish House on Rte. 236 and are vacant and in need of repair.

The City Council was to have considered the proposed court order at its meeting last week, but postponed voting.

In other action, the council reaffirmed its July decision to use the vacant John C. Woods School, on Old Lee Highway, as the new city police and fire and rescue headquarters.

The city recreation department also will be in the school. About one fourth of the space will be reserved for public use.