Historic Affairs Board: Preserve Stratford — Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board has voted unanimously to recommend designating Stratford Junior High School, the current home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, a local historic district. The School Board will now decide whether or not to go along with the historic designation, which could delay plans to build a new middle school on the site by 2019. [InsideNova]
Three Arrests at Bar Crawl — There were only three arrests made at the All-American Bar Crawl in Clarendon on Saturday. Arlington County police were out in force, keeping the peace among the thousands of revelers who participated in the rain-drenched event, which the department again live-tweeted. Among the arrests were one for being drunk in public and another for failure to pay, according to a police spokesman. [Twitter]
Man With Knife Arrested at McDonald’s — A man was arrested at the McDonald’s on the 3000 block of Columbia Pike on Saturday afternoon. Police responded to the restaurant for a report of a fight in progress and encountered a man who was brandishing a knife. The suspect was arrested but was acting disorderly and spitting on officers while in custody, according to a police spokesman. It was later determined that the man was wanted for a probation violation in Loudoun County.
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Arlington County is considering a local historic designation for the former Stratford Junior High School on Vacation Lane, causing some parents to worry that preservation efforts may mean more school overcrowding.
With the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program set to move from the Stratford building to a new building in Rosslyn, Arlington Public Schools is planning a $29.2 million renovation of Stratford that would allow it to house a new 1,000-seat neighborhood middle school. Both schools are set to open in 2019.
Tomorrow night, however, the county’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold the first of six public hearings on whether to recommend designating Stratford, which was built in 1950, a local historic district. It’s already on the National Register of Historic Places as a result of its role in the civil rights movement: in 1959 Stratford became the first public secondary school in Virginia to be racially integrated.
“A local historic designation will provide a framework for preserving and telling the important story of this building and site while allowing plans for a separate new school to be designed and built,” the group Preservation Arlington said in support of the designation. “Stratford Junior High School is an incredible part of Arlington’s history… as well as an excellent example of International Style school architecture.”
Parents worry that a historic designation could push back the opening of the new middle school beyond 2019.
The Jamestown Elementary PTA, which last year decried APS delaying a decision on a new middle school, says a middle school at Stratford is key to alleviating overcrowding at Williamsburg and Swanson middle schools. The PTA asked parents to make their voice heard at meetings this week.
“Right now the Arlington County Board is considering turning Stratford into a historical property, which would likely delay the opening of Stratford as a neighborhood middle school,” the PTA said in an email to parents. “That delay will impact all of the surrounding middle schools leaving the overcrowding issue as one that will remain for much longer.”
At a meeting at Williamsburg Middle School last night, parents were told that the school may need up to 28 relocatable classroom trailers by 2018. The trailers could ultimately hold the school’s entire 6th grade class, school administrators said.
Another APS meeting on middle school capacity issues will be held Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. at Swanson Middle School. The historical review board will meet at the County Board room (2100 Clarendon Blvd) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Preservation Arlington, a group dedicated to protecting Arlington’s historic buildings, communities and landscapes, has released its “Most Endangered Historic Places” for 2015.
The annual list is used to promote awareness and advocacy of the historic sites and the preservation they need, according to the group’s website. Preservation Arlington also created a watch list for the 2015, which includes sites that are on the “verge of disappearing.”
The 2015 list, with excerpts from Preservation Arlington’s description of each:
- Dive bars — “Preservation Arlington raises a toast to our remaining dive bars, such as Forest Inn and Cowboy Cafe, and hope they continue to thrive. Preservation is also about the role that place plays in our community and not just the building or its architecture.”
- Garden Apartments in Westover — “While some garden apartments in Westover are listed in the National Register, these and others in fact have no long term protection from redevelopment.”
- Columbia Pike Commercial Buildings — “The unique small-scale retail buildings in the commercial nodes, as identified in the Pike’s unique zoning, will not be preserved without more focus on historic building style and design.”
- Lyon Village National Register Historic District — “Many of the changes [to Lyon Village] have not respected the historic character of the community and have dramatically altered many of the components that qualified the community for designation [on the National Register of Historic Places] in the first place.”
- Reevesland Farmhouse and Property — “The county hasn’t done anything to keep up this property in 15 years, letting the property deteriorate and the story of Arlington’s dairy farming history slowly and gradually disappear. Selling the property will permanently remove from public access and use a tangible connection to Arlington’s rural past and a fantastic opportunity to provide educational opportunities to current and future Arlington students and residents.”
The 2015 Watch list, with excerpts from Preservation Arlington’s description of each:
- Wilson School — “While not designated as a local historic district in 2015, the opportunity still exists for the Building Level Planning Committee of Arlington Public Schools to incorporate substantial portions of the building facade and/or materials in the modernist building being planned for the site.”
- Arlington Presbyterian Church — “While denied listing as a local historic district in 2014, the opportunity still exists for the story of the existing building and congregation to be incorporated into the planned future development.”
- Webb Building — “An excellent example of our quickly disappearing mid-century modernist building stock, the Webb Building is not protected.”
- Key Boulevard Apartments — “One of Arlington’s best preserved garden apartments, which has already had its density move to an adjacent luxury condo, this complex was under threat in 2014.”
The 2014 list included the Wilson School, Arlington Presbyterian Church, family graveyards and mid-century Arlington architecture.
Parents Located After Boy Found Wandering — A social media post helped Arlington County Police located the parents of a boy found wandering along on 4th Street N. Saturday afternoon. The parents said they both assumed the boy was with the other parent. [WJLA]
Whipple Endorses Schneider — Former County Board member and state senator Mary Margaret Whipple has endorsed Andrew Schneider in the Democratic County Board primary. [InsideNova]
History Center Profiled — Interested in Arlington history? Not too surprisingly, the place for you is the Center for Local History at Arlington Central Library. The center has books, photographs, oral histories, permit records and other local historical resources. [Washington Post]
Three years after unsuccessfully seeking proposals for use of the historic, county-owned Reeves Farmhouse, the Arlington County Board tonight will consider a proposal to sell it.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan is recommending that the Board approve putting the house and a portion of the surrounding property, adjacent to Bluemont Park, on the market for sale to a private buyer. The proposal was added to today’s County Board agenda on Monday.
Even after being sold to a private party, the house — which dates back to 1899 — would remain a local historic district and would be protected from changes that would hurt its historical integrity.
The Reevesland property was the last operating dairy farm in Arlington County. The county purchased the house and its 2.5 acres of land from the Reeves family in 2001 for $1.8 million.
The county has been struggling to find an entity with a viable proposal for an “adaptive reuse” of the farmhouse. Cost has been a factor. In 2012 it was said that the house needed more than $1 million in work. Now, the county says it would cost $2.5 million to bring the house “up to code for public use,” not including ongoing maintenance costs.
County officials have been in touch with the Reevesland Learning Center, a group interested in using the farmhouse for educational purposes, but staff says the group doesn’t have the money needed to restore the house.
“The County has attempted several different ways to seek a partner for the adaptive reuse of the Reeves Farmhouse, but have not received responses from partners with the necessary financial resources to bridge the $2 – $2.5 million gap,” according to the staff report.
Under Donnellan’s proposal, the land around the farmhouse will be subdivided and the county will retain ownership of much of the property, including portions currently being used by the Reevesland Learning Center.
“The County will continue to own the rest of Reevesland, including the much-loved sledding slope and the historic milking shed, and will continue to maintain the recently expanded raised planting beds there,” according to a press release.
Taste of Arlington Winners — The judges at Sunday’s Taste of Arlington event in Ballston selected four winners among the dozens of restaurants that participated. Il Forno won for Best Appetizers, Liberty Tavern won for Best Fast Casual, Water and Wall won for Best Fine Dining and Northside Social won for Best Dessert.
Real Estate Prices Rise — Real estate prices in Arlington continue to rise. The median home sale in Arlington between January and April was $545,000. That’s up 9 percent year-over-year. [InsideNova]
Clarendon Real Estate Was a Bargain in 1900 — Clarendon is full of nice restaurants, luxury condos and million dollar homes now, but in 1900 it was an emerging suburban community with vacant land for sale. How much were plots of land going for? Between $90 and $140. [Ghosts of DC]
Presidential Candidate in Arlington Today — Mark Everson, a former IRS commissioner and a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, will speak and greet supporters at a $100-a-head reception in Courthouse today. The event is being held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Courthaus Social, 2300 Clarendon Blvd. [Mark Everson for President]
APS Educator Named Top Hispanic Teacher — Arlington Traditional School art teacher Veronica Perez has received the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award. [InsideNova]
TargetExpress Coming to Rosslyn — A new 23,000-square-foot TargetExpress store is coming to Rosslyn. Located at 1500 Wilson Blvd, the store will have an in-house Starbucks, a pharmacy, a technology and mobile phone section and will carry clothing, groceries and prepared foods. Also coming to 1500 Wilson Blvd: a District Taco restaurant and a Wells Fargo bank branch. [Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]
Little Saigon Remembered — A master’s student at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia campus recounts Clarendon’s former identity as “Little Saigon,” thanks to the immigration of Vietnamese refugees following the end of the Vietnam War. As a project, the student has created a self-guided walking tour of Clarendon in connection with the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. [Preservation Arlington]
Victory for Yorktown Coding Team — The Yorktown High School Coding Club celebrated a big win at the Microsoft Imagine Cup U.S. National Finals in San Francisco last month. The team placed first in the competition’s “World Citizenship” category. [Arlington Connection]
Photo courtesy Peter Rof / Alt Globo MediaWorks LLC
Today is the 70th anniversary of the German army’s surrender to Allied forces in World War II, and to commemorate the occasion, there will be massive formations of war-era planes flying over the Potomac River.
At 12:10 p.m., dozens of planes of different models that were used during World War II will pass over the Lincoln Memorial, then fly over Independence Avenue before turning back up the Potomac River and leaving the area.
The planes — which have come to the area from all over the country — take off from airports in Culpeper and Manassas, Va., join together outside Leesburg and fly almost 50 miles toward D.C. While they’re flying, they will make formations from signature moments of the War, including the Doolittle Raid, Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway.
The planes were brought together by a nonprofit called the Arsenal of Democracy, backed by the Commemorative Air Force. Among the different models flying will be the North American B-25 Mitchell (pictured), P-40 Warhawk, P-63 Kingcobra, P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt.
Also included: the only B-29 Superfortress still flying, the same type of plane that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. Overall, the flyover organizers said more than two dozen different types of planes will participate.
“Never before has such a collection of WWII aircraft been assembled at one location, to honor the large assemblage of veterans gathered at the WWII Memorial for a ceremony,” the flyover’s website reads.
The planes will be clearly visible from Arlington, so those hoping to see them arrive from the northwest should be outside, looking up, at just after noon. The flyover is expected to last about an hour, according to the Washington Post, during which time flights from DCA will be grounded.
The Arlington Historical Society is hoping to expand the hours it hosts visitors to the Arlington Historical Museum and other historical properties it serves, and it needs help.
The AHS has put out the call for volunteers to sign up to be docents — who serve as guides and helpers — at the museum at The Hume School (1805 S. Arlington Ridge Road) and the Ball-Sellers House (5620 3rd Street S.), the oldest school building and house, respectively, in the county.
“With the right mix of volunteer docents we could not only preserve … visiting hours but also expand weekend hours and — most eagerly sought — add at least one weekday afternoon to our schedule,” AHS said in a posting on the Volunteer Arlington website. “At present many potential visitors, including school students, simply can’t explore the museum during the week, which means that whole sectors of visitors never have the opportunity to see what we have to show them. Museum certification organizations and many grant-makers also require weekday opening hours, which prohibits us from upgrading and expanding the museum.”
AHS is also looking for a volunteer to run its newsletter and a new membership director, and general volunteers for a “variety of behind-the-scenes roles, including public relations, event and program planning, database management, writing and editing, and curating.
The nonprofit runs both properties as museums and testaments to Arlington’s pre-20th century history. Each docent is expected to work just a few hours a month, staffing each property during their hours of operation and catering to guests.
Photo via Arlington Historical Society
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Next Tuesday, the Arlington County Board will vote on a budget that may or may not close Artisphere, the ambitious but money-losing cultural center in Rosslyn.
With the future of Artisphere and the nature of the county’s support for the arts on the line, it’s worth taking a look back at the optimism that surrounded Artisphere’s opening.
County leaders showed off the $6.7 million, 62,000 square foot facility on Oct. 6, 2010, touting it as — in our words — “a centerpiece of the effort to revitalize the workaday Rosslyn business district.”
Indeed, even though it was a county-owned facility, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District provided much of the support for Artisphere’s opening. In a press release about the opening — printed on Rosslyn letterhead — the BID committed $1 million in start-up funds for the facility, and pledged $300,000 annually for the life of the center. That commitment was signified in the form of a giant $7.3 million check presented to then-County Board Chair Jay Fisette at a press event.
Artisphere was designed to be a “new breed of urban arts center,” with four performance venues, three visual art galleries, a 4,000 square foot ballroom, a “WiFi Town Hall,” and its own cafe and bar. Initial programming cut a broad cultural swath, including music and dancing, often with an international flair; conceptual and interactive art exhibits; poetry open mic nights; documentary and art film screenings; the Washington Shakespeare Company; educational events; and even puppetry.
Rosslyn, county and cultural leaders believed that the Artisphere would be a game-changer for the neighborhood, attracting 250,000 visitors a year and generating nearly $800,000 in admission and ticket revenue, in addition to expanding the county’s artistic horizons.
“Artisphere is a new model for American cultural centers… a unique techno-savvy arts space that offers interactive opportunities to participate in the creative experience,” Arlington Cultural Affairs division chief Norma Kaplan said in the 2010 press release. “It will be a venue between work and home where people living and working in the Washington area can engage in the arts, challenge their intellect, or just hang out.”
(Kaplan would leave her post for a job in New Jersey less than a year later, after Artisphere’s visitor revenue projections came in 75 percent below expectations. By the April 2011, fewer than 50,000 people had visited Artisphere.)
Artisphere might have opened on an intriguing date, but in the rush to open on 10/10/10 the county was unable to hire an executive director or find a cafe operator in time for the opening. It would be January 2011 before Jose Ortiz, who previously worked at the Harvard Art Museum, was hired to lead the center as executive director. In April came the opening of Here Cafe + Bar, run by the owners of Guajillo in Rosslyn.
Fifteen minutes later, “churches, temples, schools, city halls, public buildings, historic sites, and others are invited to ring bells” for four minutes, one minute for each year of the Civil War, the National Park Service said in a press release.
In Arlington, at least one building will be joining in the nationwide campaign. The Arlington Historical Society will ring the bell at The Hume School, which now serves as the Arlington Historical Museum.
The National Park Service also owns the Netherlands Carillon near Rosslyn, which has 50 bells on its distinctive structure. The Carillon is less than a mile away from Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee.
Photo via the Arlington Historical Society.
In the northeast corner of Marymount University’s North Arlington campus, there has stood an old cemetery with gravestones covered in weeds, without so much as a clue as to who was buried there, and when.
Many of the gravestones read “Gone but not forgotten.”
“That was pretty ironic because the people there had been pretty much forgotten,” MU nursing student Jen Carter, one of the students who was worked to uncover the mysteries of the old cemetery, said in a school press release.
This year, history professor Patrick Mullins, at the urging of MU President Matthew Shank, has led a group of students in unearthing the history behind the cemetery, and they’ve gotten results. According to the school, the Birch-Campbell Cemetery is the burial place for dozens of Arlington residents, dating back to 1841. The most recent burial was in 1959, nine years after the school was founded.
Mullins said they’re still not sure who owns the land — the discovery project is ongoing — but they do know more about some of the cemetery’s permanent residents. Most, the school said, were middle-class farmers and landowners.
The fathers, sister, uncle and brother-in-law of Mary Ann Hall, who owned an “upscale brothel” near the U.S. Capitol, are all buried in the cemetery, the students found. Hall owned a farmhouse on the land where Marymount’s Main Hall now stands. She is buried in Congressional Cemetery after her death in 1886.
“Some of the big questions we discussed — and we need to ask as a society — is who do we remember and what do we preserve?” Mullins said in the release. “We learned a great deal about the site and how it ties into local and regional history. We didn’t answer all the questions we were trying to answer, but it’s an ongoing project. We’re not even positive who actually owns that plot of land. That’s part of the research that we’d like to complete.”
Photos courtesy Marymount University
School Board Candidates Sound Off — The two candidates for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board, Reid Goldstein and Sharon Dorsey, formally announced their candidacies last week, making the case to fellow Democrats for why they should be on the board. The Democratic School Board caucuses will be held in May. [InsideNova]
Arlington Explains Salt Shortage — Updated at 1:15 p.m. — Arlington County officials are explaining last week’s road salt shortage. County officials say a 4,000 ton order for salt placed by the county on Jan. 19 was never filled, due to high demand for salt among eastern seaboard states that have been buried by heavy snowfall this winter. The county was expecting a 2,000 ton salt delivery from Pittsburgh Friday evening. An Arlington official explained the shortage but did not apologize for it, as earlier reported, according to a county spokeswoman. [WTOP]
100 Montaditos Files for Bankruptcy — The company that owns 100 Montaditos, the Spanish mini-sandwich restaurant in Rosslyn, has filed for bankruptcy. No word yet on whether the restaurant or its other chain locations, in Florida, will remain open. [Miami Herald]
Barbershop Owner Profiled — Jim Moore, the owner of Moore’s Barber Shop on Lee Highway in the High View Park neighborhood, is profiled in an article that also chronicles the shop’s 55 year history. [Arlington Connection]
Snow Chance Today — Arlington may get some snow, sleet and freezing rain this afternoon. The area is under a Winter Weather Advisory, although forecasters think areas north and west of Arlington are at more of a risk of wintry weather and slippery roads. [Weather.com]
Two Dems Running for School Board — The deadline for candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement for school board was last night and two candidates filed before the deadline: Reid Goldstein and Sharon Dorsey. The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold its school board caucus on May 14 and 16.
Opower Losing Money, Hiring — Courthouse-based Opower, a publicly-traded energy software company, reported its latest financial results yesterday. For 2014, the company reported $128.4 million in revenue, a 45 percent increase over 2013. Its operating loss was $40.8 million. The company is continuing its hiring spree, adding employees locally and at its offices in London, San Francisco, Tokyo and Singapore. [DC Inno, Yahoo Finance]
Armed Bank Robbery in Falls Church — A Wells Fargo bank in Falls Church was robbed yesterday by two armed men known as the “Black Hat Bandits.” The men are suspected of robbing seven other banks around the D.C. area. Arlington County police assisted Falls Church police in looking for the suspects immediately after the robbery. [Falls Church News-Press]
Old Map of Arlington — An 18th century map of what is now Arlington County shows mills along Four Mile Run and the “Road To The Falls,” known now as Glebe Road. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Murphy Falls Short of Superintendent Award — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy may be one of the top superintendents in the country, according to the American Association of Schools Administrators, but at a conference in San Diego yesterday Murphy fell short of being named “Superintendent of the Year.” [InsideNova]
Aurora Highlands Profiled — The group Preservation Arlington has profiled the Aurora Highlands neighborhood and an owner of a circa-1942 house in the neighborhood, as part of its “I Love My Historic Neighborhood” feature. [Preservation Arlington]
Historic Photo of Courthouse — Courthouse looks very different than it does today in a black and white photo taken sometime in either the 1980s or 90s. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok