Plan Langston Boulevard: Key Planning Elements Part 7

PLB Logo High Res

Key Planning Elements Series: Part 7

Welcome to Part 7 of this newsletter series on Plan Langston Boulevard’s key planning elements. This week, our newsletter is talking about HISTORIC and CULTURAL RESOURCES. Here, we outline the planning element goal and provide a brief summary of what has been shared previously. If you would like to take a deeper dive into all the public feedback received or read the full reports, go to the Documents webpage or click the links throughout this newsletter.

The Key Planning Elements are: 

LB Zine Cover

Historic and Cultural Resources 

Goal: Maintain a unique sense of place and increase awareness of the corridor’s rich history and culture through preservation of sites and interpretation of stories, events, and people of historic significance

History and culture contribute to community identity and should be brought forward and celebrated.

There are several significant sites, events, and stories that have made Langston Boulevard special. When preparing the Cultural Resources Survey in this planning study, we identified several sites that embody the cultural story of Langston Boulevard—either because of what happened on those properties, the people that were there, or the structures themselves. A list of 120 resources (buildings, structures, objects, and sites) were researched, surveyed, and documented, and resulted in the Historic and Cultural Resources Report. The planning team has used the information about these cultural resources to inform recommendations for preservation methods, including full or partial preservation and on-site or nearby interpretation through markers, displays, or educational materials of the most significant cultural resources along the corridor.

Specific storylines will be integral in defining and bringing forward the identity of Langston Boulevard neighborhoods, including:

  • The history and character-defining features of the African American community and Civil Rights Movement
  • Langston Boulevard’s contribution to Arlington’s modern architectural resources
  • The significant role of the Boulevard as an east-west commercial artery and its influence on the County’s development history
  • Legacy businesses within the study area
  • Civil War Forts: Fort Bennett and Fort Strong

The most significant cultural resources are noteworthy because of the stories they convey and their contributions to Langston Boulevard’s identity and history. These stories may extend beyond the architectural value of buildings and into the broader social, cultural, and historical contexts of the corridor. Each cultural resource was evaluated to determine the appropriate and preferred preservation method.

Properties and sites are currently being evaluated against historical, cultural, and architectural criteria. They may be further evaluated at the time a development application is submitted for their potential to achieve other major County-wide goals for the corridor alongside the potential for historic preservation methods. These goals—including increased housing, focusing more homes and commercial space near transit, stormwater improvements, and increased green space—could influence the preservation method.

The plan for Langston Boulevard will:

  • Develop recommendations for increasing public understanding and appreciation for the corridor’s architectural and cultural history consistent with the policies of the Historic Preservation Master Plan and the Historic Resources Inventory and the Public Art Master Plan and Public Art Policy
  • Recommend significant resources for full preservation, partial preservation, and/or interpretation
  • Recommend significant resources that should inform the planning and design of destinations and amenities
  • Integrate historic buildings and sites into future development
  • Support the incorporation of stories that convey Langston Boulevard’s identity and history in public spaces through design enhancements, public art, or other interpretive features
  • Support increasing the awareness of African American history through public art, forms of interpretation, or other creative processes

To see the rich history and character of Langston Boulevard unfold through Liz Nugent’s engaging illustrations, view the Langston Boulevard Zine.

2016 Visioning Study Report + Historic and Cultural Resources 

According to the 2016 Visioning Study Reportthe plan for Langston Boulevard will help maintain a unique sense of place through the preservation of significant historic sites. The historic and cultural resources recommendations in the report include: 

  • Use cultural resources to inform the planning of destinations and amenities.
  • Preserve and integrate historic buildings and sites into future development as a coordinated part of planning.
  • Incorporate historic buildings or commemorative art into the design of new community open spaces.
  • Preserve and celebrate historic and cultural resources and neighborhoods by organizing events, tours, and activities that educate about heritage.
  • Identify architecture and other elements that comprise the character and make up the Langston Boulevard corridor.

Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Historic and Cultural Resources 

The Existing Conditions Analysis Report, released in November 2019, provided an initial overview of local, state, and national historic sites along the corridor. It also indicated that a Cultural Resources Survey was being conducted at the same time (Jan. 2019 – Feb. 2020) to identify resources that increase public understanding and appreciation for the corridor’s architectural and cultural history, and to provide preservation recommendations consistent with the Historic Preservation Master Plan and Historic Resources Index.

The ECA shared that:

  • There are 12 historic resources (four individual properties and eight historic districts) listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) that are wholly or partially in the study area. Among these are the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department, Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Historic District, Stratford Junior High School, and Waverly Hills Historic District.
  • There are 7 Local Historic Districts (6 individual properties and 1 district) that are wholly or partially in the study area. Among these are Calloway Church, Dawson-Bailey House, and Eastman-Fenwick House.
  • The Cultural Resources Survey of 120 resources would research significant non-traditional resources such as places, people, events, and stories, in addition to buildings.
  • The resources were selected from the sources and/or priorities listed below:
    • Historic Resource Inventory (HRI)
    • Legacy Businesses
    • African American Resources
    • Civil War Forts
    • Parks, Recreation, Public Spaces, and Community Facilities
    • Properties with frontage on Langston Boulevard
    • Modern Architecture

Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Historic and Cultural Resources 

The community identified the following historic and cultural resources-related aspirations in the Neighborhood Inspiration Report (see also the NIR Appendix).

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church

  • Restore the finest elements of the old and overcome the mistakes of the past: turning our transportation links into assets instead of liabilities; using modern planning and design techniques to create a warm, inviting, accessible, and friendly community; and knitting together our neighborhood with the rest of Arlington, Falls Church, and the region

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee

  • Highlight history (buildings and stories) and culture in neighborhoods through art
  • Ensure roadway is not called “Lee Highway”
  • Experience and expand the arts
  • Feel like a “front porch” community, neighborly and welcoming – the core should have its own distinct character, while the neighborhoods continue to be a place where neighbors see and interact with each other

Area 3: Waverly Hills, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion, Glebewood, Waycroft Woodlawn

  • Highlight history (buildings and stories) and culture in neighborhoods through art and tourism
  • Experience and expand the arts
  • Highlight the mix of height, scales, and architectural forms

Area 4: Cherrydale + Maywood

  • Recognize and highlight the importance of the area’s historic resources
  • Explore how a “streetcar suburb” identity could be adapted for modern urban living

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village

  • Highlight Frank Lyon’s planning and vision, while recognizing restrictive deeds in the area during segregation
  • Highlight the neighborhood story of growth and change throughout the decades
  • Highlight the history of early trolley cars and civil war trails

Land Use Scenario Analysis + Historic and Cultural Resources 

The Land Use Scenario Analysis did not propose any recommendations for preservation because it was focused on providing ideas for development in the core study area. We therefore did not pose any questions about historic and cultural resources during this engagement period. The Preliminary Concept Plan will include preservation recommendations.