Historic Preservation Newsletter

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Greetings from the Historic Preservation Team!


Welcome to our inaugural Arlington County Historic Preservation Program quarterly newsletter, please forward this message to any people or groups you think may be interested in learning about history and historic preservation programs around the County. Sign up for future issues by going here and entering your email address in the subscription box.


It’s that time of year again! 50 degrees in the morning, 75 degrees mid-day, and raining by nightfall - yes, it’s autumn in Virginia. With the weather changing, the Historic Preservation Program decided to collect some general County-wide tips to help you get your historic property ready for autumn and winter.


Read some of the National Park Service's recommendations on how to keep up with the regular maintenance of your historic property.

Energy Efficiency and Your Historic Property

For those of you noticing higher energy bills or wanting to increase interior comfort as the weather cools, the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) recommends these tips from Energy.Gov on insulation and air sealing. Senior residents or those who income qualify also may be eligible for Weatherization Assistance Funds. To learn more, contact Nancy Palmer at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development via email   or call (804) 371-7102.

Tree Stewards Mulching

Tree Care

Our partners in Urban Forestry in the Department of Parks and Recreation have been educating us on proper mulching techniques. Here are some tips from the Arlington Tree Stewards on mulching and ivy removal for tree safety.


Remember, Local Historic Districts always have free access to the County’s urban foresters to discuss the health of their heritage trees.

Brandymore Ouija Board 3

Something Kind of Spooky

During a recent visit to Brandymore Castle, the Historic Preservation Inspector discovered that someone may be trying to communicate with the spirits of the very earliest Arlingtonians. Brandymore Castle was used as a survey point as early as 1724 while the land that is now Arlington was still inhabited by First Nations people including the Monacan and Doeg, and Virginia’s earliest white settlers. We don’t know if this recent otherworldly communication was successful, but we do know some other spooky spots around the County where you may be able to speak to our forebears.


Look out for our monthly blog collaboration with the Center for Local History, Preservation Today: Rediscovering Arlington. This month we are sharing some eerie stories about allegedly haunted properties in Arlington, and you'll see one each day of the week of Halloween on the library's Facebook page. Did we miss one? Tell us about it in the comments.

Current Corner

For the past year the Historic Preservation team has been working with trustees of the Mount Salvation Baptist Church to document and research their historic cemetery in fulfillment of a Local Historic District nomination request. Burials here began as early as 1884, soon after the trustees bought the one-acre site from Bazil Hall. The parishioners erected the first building on this site in 1894, 15 years after the congregation was founded at the residence of Brother Moses and Hattie Pelham, a well-established family whose collective nearby residences north of the Falls Church Road (now Lee Highway) were known as ‘Pelham Town.’ Staff believes this project will be a rich addition to Arlington’s Local Historic District portfolio and will contribute to a fuller understanding of the County’s African American cultural heritage.

News from our Local Historic Districts

We are excited to present a newly released student documentary on the historic Ball-Sellers House, sponsored by the Historic Preservation Program in partnership with Arlington Independent Media. Watch our newest documentary and all of AIM's video productions on their YouTube page. The Ball-Sellers House, Arlington’s oldest standing home, closes for the winter from the end of October until the beginning of April so plan your Saturday afternoon visit soon!


Congratulations to the Cherrydale Volunteer Firehouse on turning 100 years old! This building was the first purpose-built firehouse in the County and the model for all the first firehouses in the area. It has served more than one civic purpose since it was built, offering not only fire safety services but civic services in the community room upstairs. Did you know the building hosted the County’s first movie theater?


The Dawson Terrace Park reopened this summer after a year under renovation. The park includes the Dawson-Bailey House, which is believed to be the oldest stone building in the County. Stay tuned for some interesting programming in the Dawson-Bailey House over the coming year hosted by the Center for Local History, which is keeping valuable archives at the historic site.


The Heights School opened its doors on the site of the former Fort Myer Heights School, later known as the Wilson School. The new school has a scaled model of the historic school in the building entrance, a historic marker near the main door, and reuses some of the tin ceiling panels in the library.

Clarendon School Activation

In case you missed it in June, see photos of artist Amanda Browder’s activation of this Arlington Local Historic District and read more about the building’s history here.

History Around the County

Interested in local history and historic preservation? Check out these events around the County from our history partners:


Find Civil War programming at Fort C.F. Smith, fort walking tours, and more through the Department of Parks and Recreation programming.


Resources and information about Arlington history are always available through the Center for Local History either in the reading room in the Arlington Central Library at 1015 N. Quincy St. or online. They recently received thousands of records, some dating back to the 1840s, from the Library of Virginia and select pieces will be available for public viewing this October. In addition to local vintage photographs and oral histories, the Center for Local History’s catalogue includes exhibitions about the Desegregation of Arlington Public Schools and a look forward to the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.


Excited about the centennial of the women’s right to vote? There will be 19 Arlington events celebrating the 19th amendment.


For information on Arlington’s compelling  African American history, visit the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington online and learn about all the resources they have to offer.


The seat of the Arlington Historical Society, the historic Hume School, is open year round and features rotating exhibitions open to the public. Follow the Arlington Historical Society on social media for great content including ‘On this day’ posts, scholarly articles, and save-the-dates for their engaging programming.


Don’t forget the Arlington Arts Center offering exhibitions in the historic Clarendon School and art classes for children and adults.

Upcoming from the Historic Preservation Program

November 11, 2019, 11 a.m: Dedication of Interpretive Markers in Clarendon Central Park

To commemorate the centennial of the World War I armistice in 2018, the Historic Preservation staff, as part of a community task force, applied for a grant from the U.S. World War I Centennial Committee and received partial funding to develop a series of historic markers related to the Clarendon War Memorial. The interpretive project focuses on Arlington during the conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries in which Arlingtonians died. Historic research undertaken for the project revealed the names of five additional World War I soldiers whose sacrifice had previously been unrecognized. The Veterans Day event, which will be the culmination of two years of work and study, will be hosted by the Arlington chapters of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.


January to June 2020: Arlington Lunch Counter Sit-Ins 60th Anniversary Tribute

A celebration in conjunction with Arlington’s Public Art Program and artist-in-residence Amos Kennedy, Jr. is planned to commemorate the activists who desegregated Arlington’s lunch counters in June of 1960. As part of the commemoration program for this anniversary and the greater civil rights efforts achieved in Arlington, the Historic Preservation Program is proud to partner with Arlington County’s Public Art Program, Arlington Transit, and Arlington Art’s Art on the ART bus and Arlington Art Truck. The project will bring visiting artist Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. to Arlington to create commemorative letter-press cards featuring quotes by local history makers to highlight the places, people, and events that are often overlooked in our collective memory of Arlington. His prints will be featured on the Art on the ART bus for the next year, and a series of seven commemorative prints will be available through the Arlington Art Truck at various locations throughout the County in April and May 2020. Read more about the sit-ins here and look out for our event programming in 2020.


Check our website and subscribe to this newsletter to get updates on our technical workshops, including a mortar restoration workshop in Spring 2020.


Design Arlington

The 2019 Design Arlington Award program is now accepting applications through November 19, 2019. Design professionals and local property owners may submit public or private projects completed in Arlington County since 2000. Eligible projects can be residential, commercial or institutional/civic in nature and include renovations, additions and historic preservation rehabilitations. We are very proud of the work that our historic property stewards have poured into their properties, and we encourage you to submit your historic preservation projects for review.


1940 census

As historians we use historic census data every day. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson oversaw the first national census in 1790 and there has been a census every decade since then and it has given us invaluable information about people's lives and local communities. The new census will be taken in Spring 2020 so don't forget to be a part of history, either online, by phone, in person, or by mail.

Where is this?

Wakefield Manor 1940s

Click through for a then and now comparison of this historic garden apartment complex.


Have questions about historic preservation in Arlington? Visit our website at https://projects.arlingtonva.us/plans-studies/historic-preservation/ email SBolliger@Arlingtonva.us or call 703 228 3838