(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) The Green Valley Pharmacy (2415 Shirlington Road) property in Nauck is expected to earn a local designation as an Arlington Historic District. The measure was requested by long-time property owner Dr. Leonard Muse, and needs approval from the County Board at its meeting on Saturday (January 26).
Dr. Muse submitted a formal letter in 2009, in addition to a petition of support with 143 signatures, requesting the status. Since then, the county’s Historic Preservation Program staff has been working with Dr. Muse to conduct research on the building and on Dr. Muse’s contributions to the community.
The structure originally was built as a grocery store in 1942, and Green Valley Pharmacy was established in 1952. The county staff report states that the site’s significance is not due to architectural history, but rather its cultural history. An excerpt from the report reads:
Although the building itself is of modest construction and has undergone some minor aesthetic alterations over time, it is Arlington’s only surviving example of an African American owned and operated pharmacy that has remained in continuous operation for 60 years. The pharmacy is the second oldest business in Nauck (the oldest by only a few months is the Friendly Cab Company) and has witnessed six decades worth of cultural and social history under management by the same owner. Into the 21st century, the Green Valley Pharmacy continues to be a popular community gathering place, serves as an important anchor of the Nauck neighborhood, and is an important physical reminder of both the impacts of racial segregation and Arlington’s mid-20th century African American commercial heritage.
The staff report also noted Dr. Muse’s accomplishment of becoming a registered pharmacist in Virginia in 1954, during “the challenging era of racial segregation and inequality.”
In order to receive historic designation, a site must meet at least two of eleven criteria listed in the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance. The Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) found that the property in question meets three of the criteria, and therefore is worthy of historic status.
Through the designation, the pharmacy building would be preserved. New construction may still occur on the site adjacent to or on top of the current building, but first must be reviewed by the HALRB to make sure it would be compatible with the historic district.
The staff report notes that the County Manager has agreed to use $2,000 in county funds for a historic marker on the Green Valley Pharmacy site.
Currently there are 32 buildings, sites or multi-property districts that have been designated as Arlington Historic Districts. The most recent addition was the Calloway Cemetery last year.
Photos via Arlington County