Several of the original firefighters of Arlington’s Fire Station 8 were glad to see that the Arlington County Board abandoned a plan to relocate the station, instead voting in favor of rebuilding it on its current site.
Fire Station 8 was the only station in segregated Arlington with black firefighters during the 1950s and 60s. Those firefighters had to work hard just to keep the station running — due to a lack of county funding, they would hold cookouts to raise funds for equipment.
“The community got together, and they sold dinners, fish dinners, chili dinners, chicken dinners, and… they made enough money to buy all the materials and things for a barracks,” recalled Marguarite Gooden, a local resident.
After working on a volunteer basis for years, Captain Hartman Reed and Firefighter Carl Cooper were two of the first three firefighters at Station 8 to receive pay for their work, starting in the early 1950s. (White Arlington firefighters started receiving salaries about a decade earlier.)
Reed and Cooper still live in Arlington, right behind the fire station. They spoke to ARLnow.com about their thoughts on the station’s relocation.
“I just thought, well, it was very wrong about trying to move it out,” Cooper said. “If anything, they should enlarge it and let it remain here.”
In 2014, the fire chief recommended — based on a 2012 consultant’s report — that Fire Station 8 be moved north of its current location to reduce response times for the northern communities. A county-owned parcel of land near Marymount University seemed like a prime candidate.
Captain Reed found that recommendation a little odd, especially given that there was more population density — and thus, more calls — along Lee Highway.
“I recall when I was in Station 8, how few calls we ran up into that [northern] area, and the difference in the calls we ran,” Reed said. “I don’t think the fire department could prove, even though it was a longer run, that they were needed more in that northern area, then they were in the Lee Highway corridor.”
Reed theorized that one of the underlying reasons for the move may have been a desire to place low income housing on the current fire station site. Cooper said he thought “maybe they wanted to get it away from this community” due to some sort of prejudice.
The recommendation to move the station was met with much resistance from both the historically black community surrounding the station’s current site and the community surrounding the stations’s proposed new location.
Kitty Clark Stevenson, the daughter of Alfred Clark — another one of the first paid firefighters at Station 8 — explained that the community felt they were included in the process only after a top-level decision had already seemingly been made.
“We were not respected as a community by the leadership in this county government, which for us was a violation of the Arlington Way,” she said.
Gooden, who is Captain Reed’s daughter, also found that upsetting.
“The thing that outraged me was… we weren’t engaged in the conversation at all,” she said.
After numerous county meetings and the creation of a task force, the county finally decided against relocating the station. Instead, the existing station will be knocked down and a new, larger Fire Station 8 will be built on its current site, which many in the community describe as historic.
“I was excited to hear that it would… remain where it is,” Cooper said. “Very much elated,” Reed agreed.
Gooden was also pleased that the building was being redone.
“I’m excited about them getting the best, the best technology, the best facility,” she said. “And they will better be able to serve the dynamic, very densely populated Arlington.”
A new independent coffee shop is slated to open at some point in the near future in the Clarendon area.
The shop, called Blumen Cafe, is coming to the space that formerly held CD Cellar at 2607 Wilson Blvd, which is about halfway between the Courthouse and Clarendon Metro stations. Signs for the forthcoming cafe state that the business is “coming soon.”
Though we were unable to contact the proprietor behind the cafe, Andira Jabbari, for comment, real estate agent Kenneth Matzkin — who helped lease the property to Jabbari — was able to provide some insight.
The cafe will bring “high-end teas and coffee” and snacks to the space as early as some time this month, Matzkin said.
“They’re putting in a boatload of money to make it look nice,” Matzkin said. “They’re also going to open it up in the front so you could walk directly to the sidewalk from the space.”
But Matzkin cautioned that the end result is still subject to change.
The plaque reads:
FORT ETHAN ALLEN CHAIN BRIDGE GULF BRANCH SANCTUARY FOR WILDLIFE AND NOT SO WILDLIFE HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO AS …
… HISTORICAL SITE OF CIVIL WAR FORT ETHAN ALLEN WHICH COMMANDED ALL THE APPROACHES SOUTH OF PIMMIT RUN TO CHAIN BRIDGE DURING THE WAR OF NORTHERN AGGRESSION (1861-1865)
Of particular interest is the phrase “War of Northern Aggression.” It’s safe to say that this term, used by some southerners to refer to the Civil War, has been out of favor in Arlington for some time.
The plaque is attached to a large stone on the corner of N. Richmond and Stafford streets, near where the fort once stood. Behind it is a small but lush green space, surrounded by a wood rail fence. But “the Sanctuary,” according to neighbors, is the name a housing developer gave to the homes he built in the area.
Many residents of this 18-home community, who say their homes were built on land owned and developed by the Caruthers family, find the plaque near the entrance to their neighborhood a little strange. (We were unable to reach the Caruthers family to comment on the plaque.)
“The thing that mentions the War of Northern Aggression?” said Maxwell Denney. “I mean, it’s just ridiculous.”
Other locals also find the terminology out of place.
“I thought this plaque… was rather odd,” said a tipster who emailed ARLnow.com. “While I recognize that Virginia seceded at the Civil War, a modern-day reference to the ‘War of Northern Aggression’ (at the site of a Union fort) strikes me as somewhat peculiar.”
Officials we talked to said they are not sure of the story behind the plaque.
The Arlington County Historic Preservation program, Arlington Public Schools, the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation, and even the people at the Madison Community Center — none knew anything about the plaque. Arlington historic preservation officials said the plaque does not belong to the county and they had no record of its installation.
Update at 5:05 p.m. — Commenter AnonymousArlingtonian linked to a 2011 Arlington Connection article that points to Preston Caruthers as the plaque’s builder. The plaque also was mentioned in a Falls Church News-Press column in 2011, but the author of that column, Charlie Clark, told us today he doesn’t believe Caruthers installed it.
Update at 6:45 p.m. on July 24 — Clark has updated his previous assertion, saying he has since confirmed the plaque was indeed installed by Caruthers.
Update at 9:50 a.m. on July 25 — Falls Church News-Press columnist and Arlington history enthusiast Charlie Clark has walked back his earlier statement on who wrote the three-decade-old plaque mentioning the “war of northern aggression” that is on display on private property on N. Stafford Street at the Madison Center and Fort Ethan Allen.
Clark over the weekend contacted the Caruthers family and learned that it was indeed developer Preston Caruthers who created the sign, which the family has long seen as a humorous way to get people’s attention. Here is Caruthers’ statement to Clark:
“Thank you for the concern about some my friends and good neighbors’ attention to our sanctuary street sign. It was never intended to be offensive in any way, but rather to point out to citizens and visitors the sad history of our area during the Civil War. The plaque and statues on the school playground provide so little attention to this sad era of our community’s history. I’m very sorry if this has ever offended anyone.”
After years of construction, work on Courthouse Plaza is finally coming to a conclusion.
Tomorrow, a party is planned for the plaza’s reopening. The metal fencing, barricades and orange-vested workmen that have been plaguing the open area will be gone at last — leaving behind an attractive gathering space for shoppers and pedestrians.
It has been a long time in the making. We first reported that the project was behind schedule in 2011. In January, we reported that “all work is expected to be completed by this April.” Despite the delays, the project is delivering on its other promises.
The plaza now boasts an updated entryway. Trees planted along the brick walkway are surrounded by chairs, tables and wood planters that double as benches. There are potted plants, trees and metal tables. New brick pavers keep the area looking clean and organized.
With renovations to two parking garages and to the AMC movie theater, some of the nearby amenities were also improved during the long plaza project.
To celebrate, Arlington County, Courthouse Plaza owner Vornado and the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association are sponsoring a “Party on the Plaza.” The event is taking place this Thursday, July 21, from 5-7 p.m.
The event will feature music, games, free food and giveaways.
Goody’s Pizza in Clarendon is a small restaurant struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly expensive neighborhood.
The owners, Nick and Vanessa Reisis, say they’ve put a lot of time and effort into their family-run business, located at 3125 Wilson Blvd, but they are having trouble competing with the wave of newer, more upscale restaurants in Clarendon.
There is “a new generation that’s coming in, they’re all young people and they all have good jobs, and… they’re not looking for a little mom and pop shop anymore,” said Vanessa, who’s known to some customers as “Momma Goody.” Business has been “a little down lately,” she acknowledged.
Goody’s is tiny compared to some of Clarendon’s cavernous restaurants and nightspots. But even larger restaurants face the threat of closing. Earlier this month long-time local fixture Hard Times Cafe closed over Independence Day weekend.
Reisis said the feeling of community that was once unique to Clarendon businesses is dissipating.
“It’s not the friendly little neighborhood places anymore,” Vanessa explained. “[At] all these upscale kind of places, it’s just cold.”
Reisis was sad to see Hard Times close — the two restaurants had enjoyed a close relationship, she said. “We recommended them, they recommended us. We were working together.”
This isn’t a new issue — Reisis was once the main subject of an article with the tagline “Can Arlington’s mom-and-pop eateries survive in an increasingly upscale restaurant landscape?” Five years later, Goody’s is still open, still serving a voracious late night bar crowd, and still offering only two types of pizza by the slice: plain and pepperoni.
Despite being an old school spot in a neighborhood full of shiny new places, Goody’s is looking to the future. Tentative plans include getting new furniture and maybe a new outdoor sign.
“We love this restaurant, it’s our passion, it’s like our little baby,” said Reisis.
“We’re thinking of upscaling,” she added, “but that costs money, which we don’t have in our budget.”
The Arlington Food Assistance Center is looking for volunteers to help with everything from bagging to food drives and more. Teens above the age of 14 (or under 14 with parental supervision) are welcome to help out.
If you are at least 13, you and a parent can volunteer at So Others Might Eat in D.C. This organization runs food drives and dining rooms that provide food to the homeless.
Arlington Science Focus School needs help shelving books in the library from July 11 until August 12. This can include working a single day from 8:30-11:30 a.m., or signing up for more than one day of work.
The Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department needs both administrative assistants and firefighters or EMTs. For those who lack the stomach or physical ability to participate in emergency operations, working as an administrative member entails record keeping, fund raising, and other support functions. For those who live for excitement, being an operational volunteer means being prepared to put out fires and save lives.
Back on My Feet, a nonprofit that’s fighting homelessness through running, is co-sponsoring the Crystal City Twilighter 5K race on Saturday, July 23. Volunteers are needed to help with the bag drop and to man water stops along the course.
The Playtime Project needs volunteers to play games, read books, and create art projects with homeless children while their mothers participate in skills workshops. Volunteers must make a two hour weekly commitment for at least six months.
D.C. Central Kitchen needs volunteers to help turn 3,000 pounds of food each day into 5,000 balanced meals for homeless residents of the District.
Every Saturday and Sunday, the Arlington-based Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation needs dog and cat handlers for adoption events. More volunteer opportunities are available through Lost Dog as well.
There are also some positions that require volunteers be at least 21 years old.
This includes being a CrisisLink Hotline volunteer, a job which requires empathy and a commitment of 50 hours of training and 150 hours of service. Volunteers can earn college credit and receive letters of recommendation.
More volunteer opportunities can be found through the Volunteer Arlington website.
We talked with managers and owners of several businesses in the area about how to snag a summer job.
Anne-Marie Schmidt, owner of Backyard BBQ & Catering Co., said she is looking for summer help now. However, she won’t hire someone for the summer unless the prospective employee seems committed to working, rather than vacationing.
“One or two vacations is fine, but… before I hire them I make sure that they’re available when I need them,” Schmidt said.
Another option is working at a pool. The pool at Yorktown High School is among the local swimming area that have summer help. At that pool, employees must be at least 15 1/2 years old and have a lifeguard certification. Other than that, “we like fun energetic people, and enthusiastic people,” Luis Garcia, the pool’s manager said.
But not every business is looking for summer help.
Lost Dog Cafe is among those places.
“By the time they learn our system, they are ready to leave, so we spent two months training somebody that’s never gonna be capable of working,” said a manager there.
Lisa Ostroff, owner of Trade Roots gift store and coffee shop, also doesn’t hire college or high school students for the summer.
“It takes a while to learn how to work here, learn the products, and the histories, and the stories, and make the coffees and teas, you can’t just learn it in a summer,” she said. Trade Roots is, however, currently looking to hire for the fall.
The new Sweetgreen restaurant in Clarendon opened today to big lunchtime lines.
Located at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, the popular salad shop had a line stretching all the way out the door this morning for its official opening. It was similarly busy on Wednesday and Thursday as the restaurant gave away free food during RSVP-only “preview” events.
One hundred percent of today’s opening day proceeds were to be donated to the FRESHFARM Markets Matching Dollars program, which provides fresh, local produce to under-privileged communities in the D.C. area.
“It’s awesome that they donate the first day’s proceeds to a local nonprofit,” said one woman who was enjoying a “Guacamole Greens” salad inside the restaurant’s small dining area. She and her friends “actually biked [to Sweetgreen] from Rosslyn,” despite temperatures in the 90s.