Tejada Rips Streetcar Decision — Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada made a forceful seven-and-a-half minute speech at Saturday’s Board meeting, ripping into the decision to cancel the county’s streetcar project. Tejada said the county government “has failed” and wasted the time of those involved in the streetcar’s 15-year planning process. Tejada was joined by two members of the public who spoke out against the decision. [Blue Virginia, Washington Post]
Wilson School Supporters Speak Out — Supporters of the Wilson School in Rosslyn are making what might be a last push to save the 104-year-old building — which they claim is historic — from potential demolition. Stan Karson, president of the nearby Radnor/Fort Myer Heights Civic Association, told the School Board week that “if you tear down Wilson School, you are saying to Arlington students history is important only in the classroom, not in the board room.” Meanwhile, Karson wrote in a newspaper letter to the editor that “the concerned community has been silenced.” [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Abby Raphael Won’t Seek Reelection — School Board member Abby Raphael says she will not seek reelection in 2015 and has no plans to run for County Board. Raphael is on her second term on the School Board. Some believe she may have her sights set on a state-level office. [InsideNova]
Moran Laments ‘Demagoguing’ Left — Retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says the left wing of the Democratic party is starting to pick up some traits of the Republican party’s Tea Party wing. Moran said liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was “demagoguing” the issue of financial reform by opposing a compromise spending bill — a bill that avoided a government shutdown but contained some changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. [Blue Virginia]
Board Approves Bond Refinancing — Arlington County will save $147,000 a year over the next 16 years thanks to a refinancing of three wastewater and water system bonds. The County Board unanimously approved the refinancing on Saturday. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Dave Prentice
Route 50 Trail Proposed — The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has proposed connecting existing trail infrastructure along Route 50 to create a contiguous trail between the National Mall and Fairfax City. The potential project faces a number of challenges, including its estimated $40 million price tag. [Greater Greater Washington]
‘Arlington Archive’ to Be Studied — Arlington County will assemble a task force that will spend all of 2015 trying to figure out a plan for the county to preserve its history with a digital “Arlington Archive.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Chris
TV Bachelor Arrested in Arlington — John Bonavia, a wealthy bachelor who tried to find love last year on the Bravo show Millionaire Matchmaker, was arrested in Ballston on Saturday, Nov. 1. Banavia was charged with being drunk in public on the 4200 block of N. Fairfax Drive, near the Ballston Metro station. [Radar Online]
Historical Marker for Pharmacy — Arlington County has erected a historical marker for the Green Valley Pharmacy in the Nauck neighborhood. The interactive marker includes audio clips from an interview with 86-year-old owner Leonard “Doc” Muse, who still operates the pharmacy to this day. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
No Blue Line Tomorrow — Metro’s Blue Line will be suspended on Tuesday (Veterans Day) to help with the agency’s effort to accommodate the massive crowds expected to attend the Concert for Valor on the National Mall. Yellow Line trains will replace Blue Line trains on Tuesday. As many as 800,000 people are expected to attend the concert. [WMATA]
County Offices Closed Tuesday — Arlington County offices, schools, courts and libraries will be closed for the Veterans Day holiday on Tuesday. ART buses will operate on a modified holiday schedule. Normal trash, recycling and leaf collection will still take place. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Foo Fighters Release Arlington-Produced Track — The Foo Fighters have released a new track, “The Feast and the Famine,” which was recorded at Inner Ear Studio in Arlington. The recording session will be featured on tonight’s episode of HBO’s Foo Fighters documentary series. [Pitchfork]
Arlington Recognized as ‘Smart Community’ — Arlington County has been recognized as one of the world’s Smart 21 Communities of 2015. It’s one of four U.S. localities to receive the honor this year. [WTOP]
Nixon: Arlington’s Favorite Top-of-the-Ticket Candidate — Arlington may be deep blue now, but it hasn’t always been a Democratic stronghold. Richard Nixon holds the honor of winning the Arlington vote more times than any other candidate on a presidential ticket. Arlington voted for Nixon five times, as a vice presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956, and as a presidential candidate in 1960, 1968 and 1972. [InsideNova]
HillNow.com Launches — ARLnow.com has a new sister site, Hill Now, which covers local news in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and around D.C.’s Ward 6. Hill Now launched this week and held a launch party Wednesday at Capitol Lounge. [Hill Now]
A house in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood in North Arlington will be considered for a historic designation by the County Board at its Saturday meeting.
The house, at 5151 14th Street N., just a few blocks south of Virginia Hospital Center, is a Queen Anne-style dwelling and was built, according to county staff, in 1881 and called Broadview. It was constructed by Robert Stinson Lacey, a Civil War veteran who “operated one of the County’s large market farms at and surrounding Broadview, and played an active role in local political and social affairs,” the staff report states.
Currently, the home and property is owned by Alex Deucher and Angela Guzman, who moved in about three years ago. Deucher contacted the county earlier this year to have a “local historic district” designation placed on the house, because the two “just wanted to see it protected.”
“This house is just so cool,” he said this afternoon while giving this reporter a tour of the exterior. “It’s got a lot of neat features that you don’t really see in newer houses. It’s got about 12-foot ceilings on the lower level, big parlors and a big porch. A lot of nights we sit out here and eat dinner.”
The house is painted yellow with blue trim, and many of the original features are still in existence and, according to Deucher, use.
“It represents the evolution of a simple I-house into an ornate Queen Anne-styled dwelling corresponding to the architectural trends of the late-19th century,” the staff report states. “[It] possesses integrity of design, materials, form, plan, and workmanship to convey its various periods of construction; and remains one of the best examples of Queen Anne-styled architecture in Arlington County.”
If the historic district status is approved, all renovations and major work on the house will have to be approved by the county. After Deucher called the county to apply for the status, he said the staff was able to pull the history of the house “all the way back to the land grant from King George.”
County Government Open on Columbus Day — Even though it’s a federal holiday, Arlington County government offices will be open for Columbus Day on Monday. Courts, DMV offices, the Sheriff’s Office and other state-related offices will be closed. Arlington Public Schools will be closed for a teacher work day. [Arlington County]
Antique Plane Fly-Over — About 30 World War II-era planes will be flying over the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery around
12:30 p.m. today 11:55 a.m. Saturday. [WTOP]
Higher Charges for DCA Passengers? — Reagan National Airport is expected to have its traffic increase by another two million passengers next year, while overtaking both Dulles and BWI in passengers by the end of this year. To help keep up with the growth, and perhaps encourage use of the recently-upgraded Dulles International Airport instead, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering an increase of the passenger fee at DCA from $4.50 to $8.50. [WTOP]
Metrorail Ridership Continues to Slide — Ridership on Metrorail is continuing its five-year-slide. Ridership has slipped from a high of 225 million annual trips in 2009 to just over 200 million annual trips now. A shrinking federal workforce, increased telecommuting and increased bike and bus commuting are said to be the main drivers of the decrease. [Washington City Paper]
Office Buildings as Schools — Converting older office buildings into schools is increasingly being eyed as a two-fold solution to office vacancies and a school capacity crunch in Northern Virginia. In Falls Church, a five-story office building was converted into an elementary school — although a full gymnasium has yet to be built. [Washington Post]
‘Historic’ Garage Move Considered — Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board will meet on Wednesday and consider a proposal to move a “historic garage” from county property onto the now privately-owned Fraber House site in Cherrydale. Preservationists might not be thrilled about the move, which would also require the removal of an oak tree. “Historic preservation advocates had wanted the county to draw the historic district line around the garage so that this wouldn’t have to happen… oh well,” one tipster told ARLnow.com. [PDF]
Photo courtesy @ClarendonScene
Want a glimpse of how Arlington has changed over the past 65 years?
The video above, produced by VDOT, shows a drive across the Key Bridge and up Lee Highway in 1949, juxtaposed with the same drive in 2014.
You’ll notice the things that aren’t there any more: large billboards in Rosslyn, streetcar tracks, and a Gulf Oil gas station. You’ll also notice things that are still there — like the Lyon Village Apartments — and things that were yet to be built — like Rosslyn’s tall office buildings.
‘Damn Yankees’ Was Written in Arlington Home — The book that was the basis for the musical “Damn Yankees” was written in Alcova, a historic home in Arlington. A family of four now lives in the house, after buying it for $950,000 in 2012. [Falls Church News-Press]
Shirlington Library Temporarily Closed — Shirlington Branch Library was closed Thursday and is expected to reopen this morning following “a maintenance issue with the building HVAC system.” [Library Blog]
NBC’s Chuck Todd Gives Back in Arlington — “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd lives in Arlington and says he prefers giving back to local causes rather than national charities. Among other causes, Todd volunteers at Arlington Free Clinic. “You have a community where you have a lot of wealth in one part of the county and a lot of poverty in the other, and it’s right in D.C.’s backyard,” he said of the motivation for his volunteer work. [USA Today]
The church was built in 1964 and designed by architect Charles Goodman, who also designed the original terminal at Reagan National Airport, according to Preservation Arlington. Several other Goodman-designed buildings, including the DCA terminal, have been named to the National Register.
“The building references traditional meeting halls and temple buildings in its form and has character-defining features of the Brutalist style in the Modern Movement,” the building’s registration form for the National Register reads. “Brutalist design sought to dramatize major building elements such as the frame, sheathing and mechanical systems. Known for an emphasis on bulky, heavy massing, Brutalist buildings often feature exterior walls made of unfinished concrete.”
Church additions were built in 1994 and 2013, but the main sanctuary and the plot of land’s site plan, designed by Goodman, have remained largely unchanged, the form states. The congregation wanted the building to “reflect their liberal, progressive beliefs and that would signify the UUCA’s leadership position within the denomination.”
Getting the church named a state landmark was a two-year process, Minister Linda Olson Peebles said. The church and its members were proud to see the architecture be recognized.
“[Congregants] told us they were impressed not only by the quality of the design of the building, but Charles Goodman spent a lot of time with the congregation and incorporating the values and theology of the congregation into the design of the building,” Olson Peebles said. “We’re hoping by it being put on the national registry, people will realize that the physical presence of a group in a community matters. It says something to the world.”
Hat tip to Preservation Arlington
Fmr. Arlington Man Pleads Guilty to Murder — Lamont Deshawn Terry, a 39-year-old former Arlington resident, has pleaded guilty to the 1992 fatal shooting of a D.C. man at Hains Point. Terry had driven from Arlington to D.C. with plans to commit a robbery when he encountered victim Chet Hunter Matthews and his girlfriend in a parked car. [Washington Post]
Heritage Center in Courthouse? – An Arlington Heritage Center, hosting exhibits about Arlington’s history and cultural heritage, could eventually be built in Courthouse. Officials are looking at the redeveloped Courthouse Square area as a potential site for the long-sought center. A heritage center on Columbia Pike, which had been discussed previously, is apparently no longer being considered. [InsideNova]
Crystal City McDonald’s Lease Sells for Millions — A ground lease for the Crystal City McDonald’s, at 2620 Jefferson Davis Highway, has been sold for $7.35 million, a possible record. The McDonald’s, which pays around $300,000 per year to lease the land, is expected to remain there through 2026. [Washington Business Journal]
ACFD’s 9/11 Response — Last Thursday, Arlington County fire chief James Schwartz recounted the department’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Arlington was uniquely prepared for the unfathomable attack, thanks to its location and response to other major disasters like the 1982 Air Florida crash, Schwartz said. He also lauded Arlington’s role in the evidence gathering effort, which included finding the terrorists’ drivers’ licenses. [Falls Church News-Press]
WJLA Takes Right Turn Under New Ownership — Rosslyn-based WJLA (ABC 7) has taken a rightward turn following its purchase by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The station now airs conservative commentary, critical of President Obama and “government waste,” during its newscasts. It has also fired much of its longtime management team. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Highmuckmuck
Arlington’s Maywood neighborhood lost its foremost historian last month.
Robert McAtee, the community’s oldest resident, died Aug. 10 at the age of 100. A colorful local figure, “Mac” was a captain in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was known for his love of collectables, Scottish history and of telling tales of “old Arlington.”
Members of Maywood’s neighborhood listserv were informed of McAtee’s passing last week. The email included an obituary, written by Maywood resident Peter Harnik.
The obit is reprinted, with permission, below.
Robert McAtee, the oldest resident of Arlington’s Maywood neighborhood, died on Sunday, August 10. He was just two months shy of 101 and had lived in the same house for 98 years.
Universally known as “Mac,” Mr. McAtee was an institution in the county, attending community meetings and high school reunions in the kilt of his Scottish kinsmen and regaling all listeners with scrupulously accurate stories of old Arlington. An inveterate collector, Mac is reported to have had more than 20,000 license plates and 1,000 books of Scottish history along with cameras, buttons, stamps, coins, fossils, and much more.
He attended Cherrydale Elementary School (since demolished) and enjoyed telling stories of clambering along (and under) the trestle of the old Washington and Old Dominion Railroad. He also attended Washington-Lee High School, where he was a proud member of the Cadet Corps. After graduation in 1932, he began his working life at the Government Printing Office, where he worked until being drafted into the Army of the US in the fall of 1941. Mac was selected to attend Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA where he graduated with Class 13. He served for three years and was honorably discharged as a Captain. To further contribute to the war effort, Mac subsequently volunteered for the US Maritime Service.
At the conclusion of World War II, Mac returned to Maywood. He attended Columbia Tech where he studied electrical engineering. He worked for General Electric for a short time until he began managing a trailer rental lot on Lee Highway. In 1955 he purchased a trailer rental business at Seven Corners which he operated for over 45 years.
Mac had one sister but was never married and leaves no survivors. In recent years he was cared for by his long-time friend Robert Beck, Katherine Skerl, and care-givers Denora, Amy, and Marina.
In addition to good health, he also had a prodigious memory. Almost until the end he could rattle off the names of every family member in virtually every house in Maywood in the 1930s. He delighted showing visitors his collection of 24 letters and postcards – each with a different address – that had arrived at his house. The house didn’t change, but over the years its street name, city name, post office, zip code and other identifiers did.
Mac also reported that his family was the first in the neighborhood to install indoor plumbing. He told of the regular deliveries of milk, eggs, coal and blocks of ice, and he pointed out the location of small shops and the kindergarten within what is now the residential neighborhood.
He was perhaps best known in the neighborhood for annually renewing his automobile’s license plate with his updated age, usually entwining Roman numerals with his initials. Even though he wasn’t able to drive at the end, he kept his car, and at his death his plate spelled simply “RBM 100″.
Mr. McAtee took part in many recorded remembrances and also bequeathed much of his historically significant collection to the Virginia Room of the Arlington Library.
A memorial service will be held in the Fall.
After the jump: McAtee’s memories of Arlington in the first half of the 20th century, reprinted with permission. (more…)
Tomorrow (August 9) marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation from office in light of the Watergate scandal, and Central Library is marking the historic anniversary with a display of memorabilia and an author visit.
The library has a temporary display of Nixon-related items that visitors can check out through the end of the month. A private, local collector allowed the library to borrow the pieces of memorabilia covering the decades from Nixon’s 1950s vice-presidential campaign through his death in 1994. The display includes a couple dozen items including newspapers, masks and even a section of carpet from the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate — the target of the 1972 break-in that sparked a larger investigation.
The collector is particularly proud of a t-shirt from the late 1970s prompting readers to “Don’t Buy Books By Crooks.” It was part of a national campaign, started in Arlington, to encourage people not to buy Nixon’s memoirs. The headquarters for that campaign was located close to where the Ballston Metro station currently exists.
“We live in this incredibly fascinating capital area, and our national history often is also our local Arlington history in a lot of ways,” said library spokesman Peter Golkin.
On Tuesday (August 12), author Elizabeth Drew will visit the library to talk about covering the events surrounding the Watergate scandal, and about the reissue of her book “Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall.” She will reflect on Nixon’s ability to make a comeback and discuss what the scandal means in the 21st century. Copies of Drew’s book will be available for sale and signing during the event, which runs from 7:00-9:00 p.m.
“It’s a rare opportunity to hear one of the major journalists to cover Watergate speak,” said Golkin. He notes that although many Americans were focused on newspaper coverage of the scandal, Drew’s reporting was a major contribution because “her coverage in The New Yorker gave it a context you can only get from that kind of long-form journalism.”
Construction to Begin on Ballston Garage – Local developer The Shooshan Company says it is beginning construction on a 550-space parking garage at 4040 Wilson Blvd, site of a planned 20-story office building in Ballston. The building is the final component of Shooshan’s Liberty Center development. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Day Date Set — The annual Clarendon Day street fair will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, the Clarendon Alliance has announced. This year the event will add a bluegrass music stage next to the Clarendon Chili Cookoff. The layout is also being changed “to make it easier for people to find the cold beverages of their choice.” [Clarendon Alliance]
VDOT Warns of E-Z Pass Scam — VDOT says some Virginia E-Z Pass users have reported receiving emails demanding payment for a past due debt. The emails are a scam, the department says. It’s unclear how the scammer obtained the email addresses of E-Z Pass holders. [Reston Now]
New Arlington Book Released — “We Are Arlington,” a book featuring 180 pages of photos and history about Arlington and Arlington residents, is now on sale. The author is Bill Hamrock, co-owner of Pasha Cafe and Billy’s Cheesesteaks in Cherrydale. [Preservation Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) The remaining section of the coal trestle from the old Washington & Old Dominion Railroad in East Falls Church could be given a historic district designation by Arlington County.
The trestle was partly on the property controlled by the NOVA Parks (formerly the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority), and partly on 6873 Lee Highway, a plot of land owned by Robert Shreve Fuel Company, which demolished its section of the trestle last week to make room for a storage facility.
The County Board is scheduled to vote on whether to advertise public hearings on the trestle’s historic designation this coming Tuesday.
The staff report for the agenda item reveals that county staff “learned of the demolition as it was taking place the morning of June 5,” but discovered that Shreve Fuel did not require permits to conduction the work.
The county’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) determined that the trestle was suitable for historic designation because it met four criteria:
- The property has character, interest, or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the county, state, or nation;
- The property has a distinctive location, or singular physical characteristics that make it an established or familiar visual feature;
- The property is a particularly fine or unique example of a utilitarian structure representing a period or style in the commercial, industrial, or agricultural development of the county, with a high level of historic integrity or architectural significance; and
- The property is suitable for preservation or restoration.
The demolition took place following a May 21, 2014 meeting in which the HALRB voted in favor of a historic designation for the trestle.
Shreve Fuel agreed to give NOVA Parks the segment of track from the old railroad that was on top of the trestle for future “interpretation.” According to NOVA Parks Executive Director Paul Gilbert, about 75 percent of the trestle still stands and is on NOVA Parks land.
“Benjamin Elliott’s Coal Trestle retains sufficient historic, cultural, and physical integrity to be designated as a local historic district by Arlington County,” the staff report states. “Benjamin Elliott’s Coal Trestle was built in 1926 in the East Falls Church neighborhood. The utilitarian structure reflects the former industrial and commercial landscape that existed in the neighborhood. Such small-scale commercial coal trestles were instrumental in the processing of coal for local delivery to residences and businesses. This coal trestle is a visual reminder of a critical early-20th century energy infrastructure that fueled the electrification and development of Arlington County and the region. There are no other coal trestles extant within the County.”
Police Locate Autistic Man With Lojack — The Arlington County Police Department’s Lojack-powered Project Lifesaver has helped locate another missing man. A 29-year-old autistic man who wandered away from his group home was located by police Wednesday morning, less than an hour after he was reported missing. [Arlington County]
APS Receives Award — Arlington Public Schools has received “the prestigious Medallion of Excellence Award presented by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Awards for Virginia and the District of Columbia (SPQA).” APS is the ninth Virginia school division to be recognized since the award was established in 1983. [Arlington Public Schools]
W-L Advances to State Tourney — Washington-Lee High School’s boys soccer team defeated West Potomac 4-2 Tuesday night to advance to the 6A North Region title game and to the Virginia High School League state tournament. [InsideNova]
Library Digitizing Local Newspapers — Arlington Public Library is digitizing its microfilm archive of the Northern Virginia Sun newspaper, originally named the Arlington Sun. The new digital archives will be text searchable, “a boon for researchers, history buffs and anyone searching for specific moments in Arlington’s 20th century story.” The archives cover 1935 to 1978. [Arlington Public Library]
County Bureau Runs ‘Like a Startup’ – Arlington County Commuter Services, which is charged with getting more Arlington residents and workers to bike, walk or take transit rather than drive, “looks and operates more like a start-up tech company than a government agency.” [Mobility Lab]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen