Firm History

Paciulli, Simmons & Associates’ history is rooted in tools like the compass and the chain tape, tracing its Virginia history to the mid 1700’s and firm founder, Henry M. Gunnell, Sr. In 1744, around the time that George Washington became the first surveyor for Culpeper County, Henry Gunnell was surveying a 160-acre tract of land for William Fairfax, neighbor of George Washington and cousin of Lord Fairfax, after whom Fairfax County was later named.  In 1746 he surveyed a two acre tract for the Fairfax courthouse.  Several years later, Henry Gunnell and George Washington’s vestrymen would join together to work on Gunnell’s Church, now known as Falls Church.  Henry Gunnell would also go on to serve with George Washington and George Mason as members of the Fairfax County Committee on Safety.

Through the years, the family business and land surveying knowledge would be handed down from Henry Gunnell through sons and sons-in-law. From Henry Gunnell in the mid 1700’s; to his son, Henry M. Gunnell Jr.; to Henry Jr.’s son, George West Gunnell in the mid 1800’s; these three gentlemen saw a nation formed and grow while forging ahead the Northern Virginia region.  In addition to helping map and determine much of the lands in Northern Virginia, Henry Gunnell Jr. was a Major in the Virginia Militia and served in the American Revolution while his son George West Gunnell was a Colonel in the Virginia Militia, and fought in the War of 1812.  George West Gunnell also served as County Surveyor for Fairfax County in the early to mid 1800’s.

George West Gunnell’s daughter, Mary Josephine Gunnell, would marry J. Owens Berry. J. Owens Berry continued running the business, which was handed down from father-in-law George West Gunnell, a short period of time before the Civil War.  During the War he served as a Captain in Company G, of the Eighth VA Infantry.  Captain Berry would be captured at the Battle of Balls Bluff and later participate in the Battle of Gettysburg. After serving in the Civil War and returning back home, J. Owens Berry continued running the business with his son, Joseph Berry, from the Ash Grove area of Fairfax County until his death in 1903.  Like George West Gunnell, J. Owens Berry also served as County Surveyor for Fairfax County, holding this position during the late 1800’s.  As a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, he signed the papers incorporating Vienna in 1890.

In 1895 Joseph Berry moved to Vienna, Virginia. This also became home to the business for three quarters of a century.  As Northern Virginia began its growth in the early 1900’s, so did the Berry reputation in land surveying.  Often referred to as the grandfather of surveying, Joseph Berry mapped many portions of Fairfax County including large portions of what is now known as McLean, Vienna, Fairfax, Dunn Loring and Oakton.  His reach in planning many communities is evident across all of Northern Virginia.

Mr. Berry would also serve on the Vienna Town Council. In maintaining the family lineage, Joseph Berry introduced his son Gilbert Berry into the family business.  Shortly after doing so, Gilbert Berry had to step away from the business due to a crippling injury that occurred during work while surveying the location for the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  Later, Gilbert Berry’s daughter (Joseph Berry’s granddaughter) would marry Orlo C. Paciulli who would eventually take over the business.  Like George West Gunnell and J. Owens Berry before him had done, Joseph Berry served as the official Fairfax County Surveyor.  Joseph Berry was the last individual to hold the position of County Surveyor for Fairfax County.

In 1958 Joseph Berry passed away and grandson-in-law Orlo C. Paciulli, an engineering graduate of the Naval Academy, took over the business and established the firm name of Berry Engineers. It was Orlo’s forward thinking and strong background in engineering that allowed him to quickly realize that significant changes were beginning to occur in the business environment and that he was going to need to make changes in order to succeed in this new expanding environment. In doing so, he modified the firm’s business direction from that of one that provided only surveying services to a more multi-discipline approach, providing surveying, engineering and land planning services.

Berry Engineers continued its presence in Vienna, preparing subdivision plans and site plans for streets, buildings, sewers and other utilities. Large developments such as Westgate and Westpark or Fairfax Station helped transition the business to the strong engineering based business it has become.  Orlo became an expert in local ordinances and regulations, often volunteering his time with the local governments to create logical and workable changes as Northern Virginia grew.

In 1972, the firm’s name changed to Orlo C. Paciulli & Associates. Orlo’s son, Joseph G. Paciulli, joined the firm in 1976, just a few years before Orlo Paciulli would retire.  Former firm president, Howell B. Simmons, became a partner in 1977 and at that time the firm name was changed to Paciulli, Simmons & Associates, Ltd.  Howell Simmons was named president of the firm in 1980 and retired in 2009.  Today, the firm’s family lineage is continued by the firm’s President, Joseph G. Paciulli, who is Henry Gunnell’s great, great, great, great, great grandson.  Joe continues the family legacy of community involvement and business practice to improve Northern Virginia.

Paciulli, Simmons & Associates has been recognized as the oldest business in the Washington Metropolitan area by the Washington Business Journal.

Effective January 31, 2017 Paciulli, Simmons & Associates joined christopher consultants, ltd. as a wholly owned subsidiary. This allows us to expand our civil engineering, surveying, and land planning services throughout the Washington Metropolitan Region, strengthen the depth of our team and grow our portfolio. For more information on this exciting announcement please read our press release.