(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
Arlington Tied for Lowest Unemployment in Va. — Though it once held the title by itself, Arlington is now tied for the lowest jobless rate in Virginia. Arlington and the city of Falls Church both had a jobless rate of 3.2 percent in April. [InsideNova]
Police Release Photos of Burglary Suspect — The Arlington County Police Department has released surveillance photos of a suspect accused of stealing a laptop computer from an office in Ballston. [Arlington County]
CNBC Broadcasts from Crystal City — CNBC broadcast a live shot from Crystal City yesterday morning. The network’s real estate reporter, Diana Olick, profiled the new $50 million Crystal Tech Fund, its collaborative workspace and founder Paul Singh. [CNBC]
Arlington Was Home to the Original Twitter — Arlington residents had access to Twitter as early as the 1950s. Well, perhaps not all residents — mostly Henry Clay Elementary School students. Twitter was the name of the Clarendon-based school’s newspaper, copies of which are now available for review at Arlington Central Library. [Preservation Arlington]
Rockville Gets Its Own Remy — Local comedian-rapper Remy now has some regional competition for his Arlington Rap. An artist going by the name “Rockville Slim” has created a “Rockville Rap.” [Washington City Paper]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The list is intended “to heighten awareness of historic sites and resources in the county and to inspire advocacy on behalf of preservation within the Arlington community.”
“This year’s endangered list includes both individual historic buildings as well as building types, along with other important places such as graveyards and public parks,” Preservation Arlington said on its website.
The 2014 list, including excerpts from Preservation Arlington’s description of each:
- Key Boulevard Apartments — “A nearly perfect example of Arlington’s garden apartment housing style… It is now threatened by a site plan amendment to demolish the building and redevelop the site.”
- Arlington Presbyterian Church — “Designed by a prominent local architect… Redevelopment plans are moving forward and, if this building is demolished, a visual reminder of the past and the continuity of community that this landmark provides will disappear.
- Parkland Open Space — “Both the Lubber Run Community Center and surrounding parkland, as well as the Potomac Overlook Regional Park, have been included in recent land grabs to develop and monetize the county’s rapidly decreasing open space and tree canopy… As we continue to further urbanize, parkland becomes an ever-more-valuable asset. It needs to be off-limits to redevelopment.”
- Remnants of an Industrial-Commercial Hub in East Falls Church — “These buildings include the remaining W&OD siding, the Shreve Oil Co. building, and Cars USA, among others… The last few buildings of this area’s important role as a commercial hub in the 20th century are threatened by the redevelopment that is expected to occur with the arrival of the Silver Line transfer station at East Falls Church.”
- Wilson School — “Designed by prominent Richmond architect Charles Morrison Robinson, the Wilson school survives as one of the oldest extant school buildings in Arlington County. While severely altered, it is the last remaining example of early 20th-century institutional architecture in the Rosslyn and Fort Myer Heights neighborhood.”
- Mid-Century Arlington Architecture — “Although less understood and celebrated than other well-known design eras, mid-century modern architecture reflects a very pivotal time in our nation and in Arlington County. Arlington has numerous classic buildings of mid-century architecture that need to be preserved before it is too late.”
- Family Graveyards — “As time passes and family members and descendants grow more distant from their buried ancestors, many of these graveyards are falling into a state of disrepair and neglect, and are threatened by encroaching development. Preservation Arlington encourages Arlington County to assist stewards of these family graveyards to investigate, document, and preserve these properties, before any more of these family histories are lost.”
The group’s 2013 list included National Register neighborhoods, the Arlington House woods, the 1879 Seneca quarry red sandstone cemetery boundary wall, the remnants of the Washington & Old Dominion Railway, low-rise commercial architecture of the 1930s-1950s, the Wilson School, the Blue Goose building and garden apartments.
Photos via Preservation Arlington
Today’s National Security Agency is housed in a sprawling complex in Fort Meade, Md., but, according to a recent lecturer at Arlington Public Library, domestic surveillance by the NSA was perhaps born in Arlington.
Arlington Hall — located off Route 50 between S. Glebe Road and George Mason Drive — was the site of the U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Service (SIS), which became part of the newly-formed National Security Agency in the early 1950s, Robarge said. The Army bought Arlington Hall, which was formerly the site of the Arlington Hall Junior College for Women, in 1943.
Arlington Hall was where the SIS launched a top-secret project called VENONA (which was declassified in the mid-1990s), helmed by Col. Carter Clark.
Clark realized “after World War II was over and we were done fighting the Germans, the Japanese, the Italians and others, we’d eventually be fighting the Russians,” Robarge said. “So he said ‘let’s start watching them very closely, looking at their intelligence communications to see what they’re up to inside the United States.’”
Robarge said Clark assembled a team of linguists and mathematicians in Arlington Hall to break Russian codes. In total, VENONA uncovered more than 300 operatives of the Soviet Union in the federal government, working in the White House, Justice Department and the Manhattan Project.
“If it was involved in national security and the war effort,” Robarge said, “the Soviets had some kind of penetration inside there.”
VENONA uncovered the spying of alleged traitors Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and several others, none of whom could be convicted of treason because VENONA evidence was classified and “couldn’t be used to arrest anyone,” Robarge said.
VENONA was infiltrated by Soviet spies in the late 1940s and officially went dark in 1949, Robarge said. By then, however, the Army’s intelligence service was firmly established at Arlington Hall, which would one day also launch the Defense Intelligence Agency, which departed the facility in 1984 and for Bolling Air Force Base.
The Department of Defense transferred a portion of the facility to the Department of State, and in 1993 the National Foreign Affairs Training Center opened at Arlington Hall.
Photo (bottom) courtesy Arlington Public Library
Shuttleworth Drops Out of Congressional Race — Arlington resident Bruce Shuttleworth has dropped out of the still-crowded race for Congress. There are now 7 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. Jim Moran. Of those, 6 are from Alexandria and only Del. Patrick Hope is from Arlington. [Blue Virginia]
Garvey Phones It In, Literally — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey, who was injured on Friday in a bicycle accident, voted and participated in Tuesday’s County Board meeting via phone. It’s the first time that has been done in Arlington — Virginia law only recently changed to allow board members to participate in meetings via phone in certain circumstances. [InsideNova]
Clarendon Church Turns 105 — The Church at Clarendon (1210 N. Highland Street) will celebrate its 105th anniversary on Sunday. The church will hold a special anniversary worship service at 11:00 a.m. Originally formed as Clarendon Baptist Church in 1909, the church has seen many changes in its 105 years. One recent change was the new sanctuary that was completed in 2012, as part of a controversial deal that added an 8-story affordable apartment complex above the church.
High Streetcar Ridership Projected — While critics bash the combined $585 million estimated cost of the Crystal City and Columbia Pike streetcar lines, streetcar proponents are calling attention to ridership projections. With 37,100 daily riders by 2035, the combined streetcar system is projected to serve more riders than MARC, VRE and the light rail systems in Baltimore, San Jose, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Houston, Seattle and Norfolk. [Greater Greater Washington]
Truck Day at the Library on Saturday – Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) is again inviting children “to get up-close and personal with a menagerie of trucks and buses” in the library parking lot. Truck Day will take place from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Saturday. There will also be transportation-related crafts inside the library auditorium. The library is warning nearby residents to expect to hear some noise from the trucks and the kids during the event. [Arlington Public Library]
La Tagliatella Expansion Plans on Hold — La Tagliatella, the Europe-based Italian restaurant chain that opened in Clarendon only to receive a scathing review from Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema, is putting its U.S. expansion plans on hold. That includes the chain’s planned Shirlington location, in the former Extra Virgin space. The Clarendon location will remain open for the time being. [Washington Business Journal]
Remembering Arlington’s ‘Little Saigon’ — The timing of two separate events helped to transform the Clarendon neighborhood into a cluster of Vietnamese stores and restaurants known as “Little Saigon” in the 1970s and 80s. One event was the Vietnam War and the Communist takeover of Vietnam, which drove tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees to the United States. The other was the construction of Metro, which drove away mom and pop businesses from Clarendon and forced landlords to lower their rents and seek new tenants. [Falls Church News-Press]
Raises for Top County Officials — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday quietly approved raises between 3.2 and 3.5 percent for top officials like County Manager Barbara Donnellan and County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac. The raises are retroactive to Jan. 1. Rank-and-file county employees are receiving a 3.5 percent raise this year. [Washington Post]
Morroy, O’Leary Join Call for Streetcar Referendum — The two elected officials directly responsible for managing the county’s money, Commissioner of the Revenue Ingrid Morroy and Treasurer Frank O’Leary, have joined Del. Patrick Hope and County Board candidate Alan Howze in support of a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar project. (Hope’s fellow congressional candidate, Mark Levine, has also called for a referendum.) “This issue has become too divisive to fester any longer,” Morroy said in a press release. [Blue Virginia]
‘Film Processing Kiosk’ to Be Removed from Zoning – In a sign of the times, “film processing kiosk” is being removed from Arlington County’s zoning classifications. The designation was determined to be “archaic,” a victim of the rapid rise of digital photography. [InsideNova]
Ball-Sellers House Tours — The Arlington Historical Society is giving tours of the historic Ball-Sellers house every Saturday through October. The log cabin was built in 1750 and is Arlington County’s oldest house. [Washington Post]
Murphy Named ‘Superintendent of the Year’ — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy has been named Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. The group lauded Murphy’s “efforts to address school-crowding issues, improve graduation rates and address disparity in student achievement.” [InsideNova]
Follow-up: RaceDots Now Shipping – It’s been a long five months for Jason Berry and his company, RaceDots, since the company was profiled in our “Startup Monday” feature in December. Berry has spent long hours since then arranging for his product’s manufacture and shipment from China to the U.S. As of this week, the RaceDots — strong magnets used to hold race bibs in place instead of safety pins — finally arrived in his Harrisonburg warehouse. “The story behind getting the product here was an absolute struggle but we overcame the hurdles and are officially in business selling product from stock,” Berry told ARLnow.com. Berry tells the story on the company’s blog. [RaceDots]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Same-Sex Marriages Could Crowd Clerk’s Office — Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson estimates that the approximately 3,750 annual marriage certificates his office issues annually could spike 30-40 percent if the U.S. Supreme Court allows same-sex marriage nationwide, ending Virginia’s prohibition. [InsideNoVa]
Zoobean Raises Another $400,000 — Fresh off of its appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, Rosslyn-based kids’ book-and app-curation service Zoobean has raised another $400,000 from investors. [Washington Business Journal]
Principal Candidate Announced for New Elementary School — Williamsburg Middle School assistant principal Dr. Erin Russo has been named as a candidate to be the principal of a new elementary school being built on the Williamsburg campus. [Arlington Public Schools]
Historic Arlington Home Profiled — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark explores the history of the Birchland home, built in 1897 and located near the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Williamsburg Boulevard. The land the home sits on was once used in the Civil War defense of Washington. [Falls Church News-Press]
Ex-Marine Convicted in Murder Case — Former Marine Jorge Torrez has been convicted of first degree murder in the killing of fellow Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The trial will now enter the sentencing phase, with federal prosecutors seeking the death penalty. In a separate case, Torrez was previously convicted of rape in Arlington County and sentenced to life in prison. [Washington Post]
Dems Now Regretting Special Election Schedule? — Arlington Democrats may now be regretting the timing of yesterday’s County Board special election. Because departed County Board member Chris Zimmerman pushed back his last day in office, the special election was held after the filing deadline for nominations in the general election. That leaves Alan Howze as the sole Democrat on the ticket, despite the large margin of his loss Tuesday. [InsideNoVa]
Wardian Wins North Pole Marathon — Prolific Arlington marathon runner Michael Wardian has won the 2014 North Pole Marathon. Wardian finished the marathon, held in sub-zero temperatures, with a time of 4:07:40. He “described it as the toughest race he’s ever run.” [Facebook]
Major Delays on Orange Line This AM — Orange Line riders faced significant delays this morning due to a signal problem outside Stadium-Armory. One rider told ARLnow.com via email that the line was “seriously f–ked,” with “delays and overflowing platforms.” [Twitter]
East Arlington Remembered — East Arlington, a long-standing African-American community that was razed to make way for construction of the Pentagon and its road network in the 1940s, were remembered in a program hosted by the Arlington Historical Society. [Falls Church News-Press, YouTube]
Voting Now Underway — Voting is underway in the special election to fill the County Board seat vacated by Chris Zimmerman. Four candidates are on the ballot: Alan Howze, John Vihstadt, Stephen Holbrook and Janet Murphy. The polls will close tonight at 7:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
Special Olympics Championship Goes to Overtime — The Special Olympics division championship basketball game between the GMU Patriots and Arlington Blue went into overtime on Sunday. The annual tournament was held at Marymount University. [InsideNoVa]
Historical Society Lectures to Be Broadcast — The county’s Arlington TV channel will now film and broadcast Arlington Historical Society lectures. The lectures are held monthly at Arlington Central Library and feature topics of historical significance to Arlington County. [Arlington Historical Society]
Flickr photo by J. Sonder
Multimeters Blamed for Parking Ticket Drop — The multimeters that allow drivers in Arlington to pay for parking by using a credit card and displaying a slip of paper on their dashboard are being partially blamed for a nearly 25 percent drop in parking ticket revenue. The meters make it easier for those without change to pay for parking and, thanks to having to search for the slips on dashboards, slow down parking enforcement aides. [InsideNoVa]
Hope Wins Arlington Straw Poll — Del. Patrick Hope, who’s hoping to replace Rep. Jim Moran in Congress, has won a straw poll held at Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary’s annual St. Patrick’s Day party. Hope captured 44 percent of the vote, followed by 24 percent for Don Beyer and 20 percent for state Sen. Adam Ebbin. A straw poll held at Rep. Gerry Connolly’s St. Patrick’s Day party, meanwhile, had Beyer placing first, Charniele Herring second and Lavern Chatman third.
New Candidate in 8th District Race – Nancy Najarian, a community activist and Arlington resident, has announced that she is joining the fray in the Democratic primary for Rep. Jim Moran’s 8th District congressional seat. There are now 11 candidates running in the race. [Armenian Mirror-Spectator, InsideNoVa]
Four Courts Sees Uptick in St. Paddy’s Business – Thanks to the snow keeping many residents at home, Four Courts in Courthouse saw an uptick in their already busy St. Patrick’s Day business. Last night manager Dave Cahill affirmed to ARLnow.com an earlier estimate that the bar would serve 50 kegs of Guinness and 20 kegs of other beer over the course of the day. [Washington Business Journal]
Old Carlin Springs Map — A map from 1890 shows the original plan for the Carlin Springs subdivision of Alexandria, now Arlington County. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder
More Homes Awaiting the Wrecking Ball — Another 11 homes are set to be torn down in Arlington, after applying for demolition permits in February. The group Preservation Arlington says three are located in historic districts. “The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy, and materials,” the group writes. “Many had the potential for renovation and additions, or, at a bare minimum, reclamation/reuse of building materials.” The group is currently seeking nominations for its annual “Most Endangered Historic Places” list. [Preservation Arlington]
Arlington Woman Turns 100 — Arlington resident Virginia Blake turned 100 last month. Blake, whose paternal grandmother lived to 111 years old, only moved out of her Military Road home and into a senior living facility last fall. [Sun Gazette]
Potomac Yard, Prior to Development — A photo from the 1990s shows the Arlington portion of Potomac Yard before apartment and office developments were built. [Twitter]
Teen Book Fest Comes to Arlington — Updated at 11:35 a.m. — The NoVaTeen Book Festival will take place at Washington-Lee High School on Saturday. NoVaTeen bills itself as “the first-ever festival celebrating Young Adult literature in the Northern Virginia/DC metro area.” [NoVaTeen Book Festival]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Tech Hub Coming to Crystal City — Crystal City office building owner Vornado is investing $10 million in a venture capital fund called the Crystal Tech Fund. Venture capitalist Paul Singh is hoping to raise a total of $50 million for the fund, and is moving his company, Disruption Corp., to Crystal City. Vornado is also bringing a WeWork co-working space to Crystal City by 2016, and converting an existing building into a 300 unit apartment building for “today’s mobile and collaborative workers.” [InTheCapital, Washington Business Journal]
AFAC Sees Record Food Need – The Arlington Food Assistance Center continues to see record need for food in the community. The food bank served just over 1,800 families per week in February, a 30 percent increase compared to last year. [Sun Gazette]
Sony Store to Close — The Sony store in Pentagon City Mall is set to close, according to the company. The Sony store in Tysons Corner is also on the chopping block. [Sony]
Remembrance for Jean Crawford — Jean Crawford, a local Arlington County official and activist, died earlier this month after experiencing complications from gastric bypass surgery. A remembrance ceremony for Crawford will be held Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd). [Washington Post, Sun Gazette]
Video: Joan Mulholland — Joan Mulholland, a civil rights activist and former Freedom Rider who lives in Arlington, recently donated documents from her private collection to the Center for Local History at Arlington Public Library. The county’s Arlington TV channel created a video about Mulholland and the donation. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk
High Demand for Affordable Housing — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing received more than 3,000 applications for 122 apartments at its new Arlington Mill Residences building on Columbia Pike. Demand for affordable housing is high. Arlington lost about 6,000 residents earning between $50-75k per year from 2000 to 2012, while gaining about 25,000 households that earn more than $200k. [Washington Post]
Remembering Classic Arlington Businesses — Local writer and historian Charlie Clark recently held a talk to recall the former mom-and-pop businesses and restaurants that have closed as a result of Arlington’s “creative destruction.” Among the restaurants remembered were the Buckaroo Steakhouse on Lee Highway, Speedy Gonzales Tex-Mex restaurant in Ballston, and Major Bo’s Chicken Delight. [Sun Gazette]
Charlotte Eyes Crystal City As Development Model – The city of Charlotte, N.C. is hoping to boost development around its airport. One developer has eyed Crystal City as a possible model, considering a “complex similar to Crystal City, a collection of apartment buildings, hotels, offices and shops next to Reagan National Airport.” [Charlotte Observer]
Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder