November will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, and Arlington will take some time to mark the occasion this week.
Arlington’s World War I Commemoration Task Force and the Arlington Historical Society will host an educational event tomorrow (Thursday) at the Navy League Atrium (2300 Wilson Blvd.) to commemorate the centennial of the conflict’s conclusion.
The event, entitled “Arlington Remembers the Great War,” will include a performance of period music from Opera NOVA, a video on the war produced by Arlington Independent Media and a keynote address on the war’s effect on Arlington from Mark Benbow, the director of the Arlington Historical Museum.
Admission is free, though the hosts encourage attendees to support the event and future World War I education efforts by donating online, by check or by purchasing commemorative coins for $25 each.
More information and instructions on how to RSVP to the event are available on the Arlington Historical Society’s website.
Clement to Face Kanninen Again — “The 2018 Arlington School Board race is likely to be a rerun of 2014. Audrey Clement and incumbent Barbara Kanninen have qualified for ballot access, county elections chief Linda Lindberg told the Sun Gazette, setting up a reprise of their campaign from four years ago.” [InsideNova]
PenPlace Sketches Released — JBG Smith has released new sketches of its planned PenPlace development in Pentagon City. The development includes “two seven-story apartment buildings totaling 300 units, 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a future park.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Palooza Set for Saturday — The second annual Arlington Palooza,”a free outdoor program for all ages with live music, art, games and more,” is set to take place Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at Alcova Heights Park. [Arlington County, Twitter]
Arlington Historical Society Getting Donation — Per a press release: “The Arlington Historical Society will receive a significant donation this spring as Arlington welcomes National Capital Bank to the Courthouse/Clarendon area on Wilson Blvd. National Capital Bank President Randy Anderson, who grew up in Arlington, called to inform AHS President Johnathan Thomas that the Society was chosen as one of the charities the Bank will support with a grant award.”
Real Estate Inventory Crunch — “Long & Foster says… the number of houses and condos on the market, in D.C., Loudoun County and Arlington County was down 22 percent in March compared to a year ago.” [WTOP]
Live Construction Cam in Ballston — The new 672 Flats apartment building (an ARLnow.com advertiser) in Ballston set up a live camera to track the construction progress. The camera is viewable online and shows an aerial view of the apartments and a portion of the neighborhood. [OxBlue]
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) A new proposal for the Reevesland farmhouse may be the compromise needed between the County Board and farmhouse supporters who don’t want the farmhouse to be sold to a private party.
Karl VanNewkirk, the president of the Arlington Historical Society, spoke at the Arlington County Board meeting on Saturday, informing the Board members that he has been working with the Boulevard Manor Civic Association to create a new plan for the farmhouse.
While VanNewkirk did not provide a detailed plan during his speaking time, he did say that the county’s estimate of $2-2.5 million in renovations costs was being driven by the need for a large parking lot and American Disabilities Act compliance. Under a private ownership, the farmhouse would not need the lot nor to be fully compliant with ADA.
“I would like to ask two things from you,” he said to the Board. “A: would you give us a little more time to develop a detailed plan that would meet with your approval and B: would you continue to allow staff, the county staff, to work with us?”
VanNewkirk told ARLnow.com that the Boulevard Manor Civic Association and Preservation Arlington are looking at options for the farmhouse. Arlington Historical Society will discuss whether it wants to join in the effort at a meeting of board directors on tonight, he said.
The bare bones of the plan is for a non-profit partner of the Boulevard Manor Civic Association, and other supporting groups, to buy the farmhouse from the county, said Sandra Spear, who is leading the working group on the farmhouse for the civic association.
The civic association is helping to raise funds through charitable donations to help with the costs of renovations, Spear said.
“Our plan is nascent at this time, but the barest bones are that we propose to purchase the house from the County for a nominal sum, lease the land on which it sits, raise money to restore it, and use it in some fashion as a museum to Arlington’s agricultural past. Each element of this plan differs from Reevesland Learning Center’s (RLC) proposal,” Spear said.
It would not be a full learning center, as the Reevesland Learning Center proposed, because of ADA and parking lot runoff concerns. However, the groups may incorporate some of those elements into its proposal, VanNewkirk said.
“Have we fleshed it [a proposal] out, not yet, but we are working on it,” VanNewkirk said.
Board member Libby Garvey told the other Board members that she had also met with the Boulevard Manor Civic Association and that she found its plan for Reevesland to be more responsible than the one proposed by the Reevesland Learning Center.
“What the Boulevard Manor folk are looking at is a different approach and much more responsible, and I’m pleased to see them doing that,” Garvey said.
VanNewkirk and the Boulevard Manor Civic Association have reached out to the Reevesland Learning Center but they have not responded yet, VanNewkirk told ARLnow.com.
Board member John Vihstadt was also in support of VanNewkirk and Boulevard Manor Civic Association’s work toward a plan for the farmhouse.
“This is really the first time that we have heard that there has been any effort by the supporters of Reevesland and the larger community to actually raise funds and I look forward to some sort of public-private partnership as opposed to just county tax dollars for this facility,” he said during the board meeting.
Despite the newfound potential steps forward for the farmhouse, members of the Reevesland Learning Center group are still upset over the Board’s May vote.
Joan Horwitt of the Reevesland Learning Center on Saturday asked Board members to reverse their vote on the sale of the farmhouse. Her public comment turned heated as Chair Mary Hynes and Horwitt argued, with both speaking over the other.
Hynes stopped Horwitt’s speech saying that the Board had already heard one speaker for the topic of Reevesland farmhouse. County Board rules say that there can only be one speaker per topic during the general public comment period.
Horwitt argued that she was speaking about the public process behind the vote, not the actual farmhouse.
“It didn’t sound like that in your beginning paragraph,” Hynes said to Horwitt. “Want to get to the part where you talk to us about public process?”
Hynes started the meeting’s public comment section by reminding all speakers of the Board’s rules for public comment, including that the Board would not hear comments about items that have already been decided on, items on the day’s agenda or items that were advertised for a public hearing.
The rules are not new and are adopted every January, Hynes said. Public comment is supposed to be used to allow people to bring new items to the Board’s attention, she told ARLnow.com.
“So I was basically trying to say that public comment is not to rehash a topic or give early testimony on a topic,” she said.
Hynes said she noticed that more people are attempting to talk about topics that are already decided, something that also happened during the prolonged debate about Columbia Pike streetcar project. When this happens, the Board and residents end up talking about the same thing every month, she said.
While some residents were upset after being prevented from speaking at the Saturday meeting, Hynes said public comment is not the only way people can interact with the Board.
“People can call us, people can reserve an appointment with us, people can contact us through mail, and they do,” she noted.
Farmhouse photo courtesy Peter Roof
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
The partnership began in late 2013, when AHS President John Richardson approached WETA digital manager Mark Jones about starting a video web series. According to AHS spokesman Garrett Peck — also the subject of the above video — Jones immediately took to the idea, and they’ve produced a video a month since.
“The videos have really helped a lot of awareness,” Peck said. Each video is paired with AHS’s monthly lecture series, with topics like local brewing, Arlington’s fire department and a noted local civil rights leader. “Mark interviews each speaker about a month beforehand. It’s a nice little promo and it stays online forever.”
Considering the nonprofit’s interest in permanence, Peck said he’s enjoyed WETA creating a library of sorts of the short videos they’ve produced.
“It’s a permanent record of history, and people really like seeing video,” Peck said. “That’s the way people want their information nowadays.”
For sneak peeks into the next video and speaker program, you can visit AHS’ website. Coming up next month: a history of the Arlington County Police Department.
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.
(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) In a matter of months, a Washington Boulevard house thought to have been built in the 1800s will be torn down.
The two-story shingle and frame house at 4210 Washington Blvd will be replaced with a four-story duplex with a rooftop patio. It was built sometime between 1895 and 1910, according to Arlington County records, but little, if anything, is going to be preserved.
American Signature Properties owns the house, and Virginia Division Manager Mark Benas told ARLnow.com that the Arlington Historical Society combed the house for artifacts and he’s offered materials to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The AHS found nothing of value, Benas said, and all the ReStore wanted were some newer small appliances.
“It is literally just an old house,” county Preservation Planner Rebeccah Ballo wrote in an email. “Nothing particularly noteworthy about it.”
Former AHS President Tom Dickinson toured the house, and said it’s “pretty trashed inside.” It has been divided into apartments and there’s nothing “visible” that was in place around the turn of the 20th century.
“All of the radiators have frozen and exploded, spewing black goo everywhere,” Dickinson said via email. “The only interesting ‘original’ part is the exterior furnace room, with old T-111 walls, and old piping. It’s a place everyone has seen, and the new duplex going in there will be markedly different. I even climbed up into the attic.. It was interesting to see how the house has had various additions and expansions tied in over the years, i.e, a roof over a roof, rafters, splicing, etc.”
Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark first reported on the planned demolition, writing the house “is now deserted — save for some reported homeless squatters.”
The house, which became infamous for the giant flag that used to hang in the window, was approved for redevelopment in 2013 by the Arlington County Board, and sold to American Signature Properties last December for $827,500. Benas has applied for construction and demolition permits, and expects to tear down the house this spring.
“It’s a landmark in Arlington, for sure,” Dickinson said. “Wish there was more history as to its provenance around.”
Car Towed With Dog Inside — A car was towed from a private parking lot in Arlington while the owner’s 8-year-old Golden Retriever was still inside. Car owner Jennifer Geisler said she didn’t know she was parking illegally while running a 20 minute errand. She took a cab to get her car back from Advanced Towing, then complained to local TV stations about the incident. [NBC Washington — WARNING: Auto-play video]
Arlington Nursing School Shut Down — The Virginia Board of Nursing has shut down the Medical Learning Center, an Arlington nursing school. The school’s students say administrators left them in the dark and they’re now out thousands of dollars while their nursing careers are in limbo. [WJLA]
Historical Society’s Future Ambitions — The president of the Arlington Historical Society says that in coming years the society hopes to hire a professional staff and establish a countywide “heritage center.” In the shorter term, the society wants to extend its reach and “introduce many more Arlingtonians to our shared local history.” [InsideNova]
‘Diner’ Scores Good Review — The stage adaptation of the movie Diner, which premiered at Shirlington’s Signature Theatre on Dec. 9, has received a glowing review from trade publication Variety. The show’s seven-week run at the 276-seat Signature has already sold out. [Variety]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Historical Society Requests Heritage Center — The Arlington Historical Society formally requested including a heritage center in the the plan for redeveloping the Courthouse Square area. The organization said it could assist with developing such a facility, but could not foot the bill entirely on its own. [InsideNova]
Wizards’ Marcin Gortat Buys $1.6M Home in Arlington — Washington Wizards player Marcin Gortat has purchased one of the most expensive homes on the market in Arlington. He bought the 5-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom home for $1.6 million. The 4,008 square foot new house on N. Quebec Street should have plenty of room for the 6’11” Gortat. [Curbed DC]
County Responds to Streetcar Criticism — The county has made a website addressing a number of concerns raised about the streetcar project, particularly how to avoid problems being experienced by the D.C. streetcar on H Street. The website lists its plans to alleviate some of the problems, like keeping traffic moving, while calling this “an opportunity for us to learn best practices.” [Arlington County]
Free Halloween Taxi Rides from SoberRide — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s 2014 SoberRide service is available tonight. Anyone enjoying some adult beverages can get a free taxi, up to a $30 fare, instead of trying to drive home. SoberRide begins today at 10:00 p.m. and runs through 4:00 a.m. Saturday. Call 1-800-200-TAXI. [Washington Regional Alcohol Program]
Daylight Saving Time Ends — Remember to set your clocks back one hour this weekend. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. It’s also a good time to test your smoke detector.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Members of the Arlington County Fire Department blocked off the parking lot to the Arlington Historical Museum in Aurora Hills and climbed to the top of the Hume School on Tuesday morning. There was no emergency, the firefighters simply helped to fix the old school’s bell.
The bell functioned as a call to school children from 1891 until 1956. More recently, visitors to the museum could ring the bell. That is, until the rope broke when a visitor pulled it a little too enthusiastically.
“We encourage all visitors, particularly kids, to ring the bell when they’re visiting the museum. It’s just great to hear that sound and it’s been silent for months because the rope broke,” Arlington Historical Society President John Richardson said. “We think somebody was very eager and just broke it.”
Truck 105 from the Crystal City station used its 100 foot ladder to access the bell tower, which is nearly unreachable without special equipment. Richardson said he and an assistant previously had tried to access the bell to fix the rope, but it was too dangerous.
“It’s very difficult to get up to the bell tower safely,” said Richardson. “You can’t get up that sloping roof.”
It was going to be expensive to hire someone to bring out equipment to access the bell so instead, Richardson contacted ACFD Chief Jim Schwartz to see if the department could help out.
“We’re the only ones that have a ladder long enough to reach up there and put the rope back on for them,” said Capt. Chuck Kramaric of Station No. 5.
After one of the firefighters climbed into the tower to make repairs, the whole crew went inside the old schoolhouse to test out the new rope. They took turns ringing the bell, while Richardson expressed his thanks for their work.
“We love the ACFD,” Richardson said. “They’re really great.”
The Arlington Historical Society is hosting its first-ever antique appraisal at Carlin Hall (5711 4th Street S.) on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Interested visitors can pay $10 to have Todd Peenstra, of Annapolis, Md.-based Peenstra Antiques Appraisals, and Steve Gouterman, a jewelry appraiser from NovaGold in Fairfax.
The first hour of appraisals will be conducted in a public, Antiques Roadshow-style setting, and the second hour is reserved for private appraisals. Each appraisal costs $10, while those without antiques can see the show for $5.
All proceeds will go to fund the Arlington Historical Society’s maintenance of Arlington’s oldest building, the Ball-Sellers house at 5620 3rd Street S. Built by John Ball — after whom Ballston is named — around 1750, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It will be open for free tours from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the 13th, so those attending the appraisal can see what their admission is funding.
To reserve a spot to have an item appraised, send the Historical Society an email describing the item. The $10 fee is to be paid in advance, according to the organization.
Photo courtesy Arlington Historical Society
A more-than-200-year-old piece of Arlington history will be the subject of an event at the Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy St.).
The Dawson-Bailey House, believed to be the second-oldest home in Arlington, will be the focus of a visual presentation by Karl VanNewkirk, an Arlington Historical Society board member. The Sept. 12 presentation is part of a series of public programs between AHS and the library in an effort to further educate residents on the county’s history.
The Dawson-Bailey House was originally built as a one-room log cabin in the 1780s — though the actual age of the house is unknown. Both the Dawson and Bailey families occupied the house and continued to add to it for about 100 years. In 1955, after the last owner died, it was handed over to Arlington County. Today, the house is part of the Dawson Terrace Community Center (2133 N. Taft St.) and overlooks Spout Run Parkway in the North Highlands neighborhood, near Rosslyn.
The Ball-Sellers House, which is owned by AHS, is believed to be the oldest house in the county.
VanNewkirk’s presentation will include plenty about this historical landmark, including anecdotes about Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. Both are rumored to have visited the house during the Civil War era. Lee lived just a mile or so away in the Arlington House.
The hour-long program is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 12 in the library’s main auditorium. A Q&A session with VanNewkirk will follow.
In addition to these public programs, the Arlington Historical Society welcomes visitors to their other historic Arlington locations, the Balls-Sellers House and the former Hume School, now the Arlington Historical Museum.
This article was written by Maddy Berner
Exhibit Looks at Civil War Soldier — The Arlington Historical Society has a new exhibit highlighting the life of “everyman” soldier that was stationed in Arlington during the Civil War. About 10,000 soldiers were stationed in Arlington at any one time, compared to the population of Arlington at the time: 1,400. [Sun Gazette]
Streetcar Supporters Throw Party — About 100 people turned out at the Party for the Pike, an inaugural event organized by the pro-streetcar group Arlington Streetcar Now. The chairman of the group says he’s seeing growing support for the streetcar, especially among younger residents. [Patch]
Arlington Capital Bikeshare Video — Arlington County has produced a video highlighting the expansion of the Capital Bikeshare system in the county and encouraging more residents to use it. Arlington even offers classes for residents who need to learn how to ride a bike. [YouTube]
In Arlington, where it seems like something new is always being built, sometimes it’s difficult to remember which businesses used to exist. A history program taking place tonight is hoping to jog your memory.
“Do You Remember?” is being billed as an interactive journey through Arlington’s commercial history. Charlie Clark, a longtime contributor to the Arlington Historical Magazine, will lead the program.
The program will look at now defunct businesses such as Herbert’s Youth Fashions and McCrory’s Five and Dime. Attendees can also share their memories of beloved businesses from decades past.
“Do You Remember?” is free and takes place tonight from 7:30-9:00 p.m. at the Central Library.
The Hume School, home of the Arlington Historical Society Museum (1805 South Arlington Ridge Road), was damaged by thieves last month, the organization’s president has confirmed.
“Sometime in early December, thieves literally ripped off three 30 foot long copper downspouts from the exterior walls of the Hume School,” said Arlington Historical Society President Tom Dickinson. “This is a severe blow to our carefully shepherded finances, which were already in a precarious (deficit budget) situation. Although covered by insurance, we will incur a $1,000 deductible hit to pay for replacement downspouts.”
Dickinson said he’s meeting with a contractor today to get an estimate for the total replacement cost. He said that with the public’s help, he’s still hoping to catch the thieves.
“It would be interesting to know if any of your readers have contacts with scrap metal dealers in the area who might remember having seen these very long, dark brown tubes come through recently,” he said. “The price of copper has gone way up in recent months, thus making such brazen thefts more frequent.”
A photo of the Hume School is one of the finalists in this year’s county vehicle decal contest.
Anyone interested in donating to the historical society can do so online here or by sending a check to the Arlington Historical Society at P.O. Box 100402, Arlington, Virginia 22210-3402.