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Columbia Heights Arlington VA Real Estate



Social History of Columbia Heights 
18th Century Settlement Efforts 
One of the earliest speculators in the Tidewater region was Robert
Howson (also referred to as Housing in records) who was granted 6,000
acres in 1669, which he soon sold to the Alexander family.
Columbia Heights is within a tract of 629 acres that James 
Robertson acquired in 1730.  From 1724-1766 Robertson acquired six 
tracts totaling 3,280 acres in Arlington. Robertson was the original owner 
of these tracts, and he was, like most of the original owners, an absentee 
landowner. Settlement was sparse and tenants were working the land and 
yeomen were farming smaller tracts.  
During the 18th century tobacco was the main cash crop, and later 
corn, cattle, mills and wheat brought income. Communication was by water 
with the beginnings of some roads by mid-century. Later, large 
landowners, including Robertson, began living in the area.  
The Robertson legacy continues to this day in his Birch, Cleveland, 
Bowling, Walker, Payne and Minor descendants, in burials in family 
cemeteries, and in place names. His grandson Caleb Birch's reconstructed 
log home, Birchwood, can be found at 4572 16th Street North on land that 
was one of the Robertson tracts. 
A more detailed discussion of the early history of Arlington County 
can be found in Appendix A. 
The Turnpike - from 1808 through the Civil War 
 At the core of our Neighborhood's history is the old turnpike that was 
responsible for the neighborhood's very existence, and which continues to 
be the center of community attention.  We know this road today as 
Columbia Pike or "The Pike," but throughout its history it has been known 
by a number of names, including the Washington Road, the Columbian 
Road, the Arlington Turnpike, and the Washington Graveled Road. 
Its beginnings date to 1808 when Congress chartered the Columbia 
Turnpike Company to build a road through the newly-formed (1801) 
Alexandria County of the District of Columbia.  The purpose of this road 
was to provide access westward from the new Long Bridge that predated 
the 14th Street or Highway Bridges.  
Old maps show clusters of settlement on the eastern part of the 
Turnpike near the bridge, around the toll gates and at the crossing of the 
Alexandria Canal, at the crossing of the Georgetown and Alexandria 
Turnpike, and west of that area near what is now Orme Street and the 
earlier location the predecessor to Trinity Episcopal Church, later relocated 
to Wayne Street. 
One person who lived in this older community was Jeanette Mudd 
Allwine, a grand-niece of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, whose family home was the 
old tollhouse at Columbia Pike and Jefferson Davis Highway. She helped 
her mother collect tolls and deliver mail and lunches by barge to the many 
brickyards along the Alexandria Canal. After she married, she lived at the 
old Abingdon Plantation and her daughter still lives in the county. 
G.W.P. Custis and Arlington House 
 The name "Arlington" was a natural for this part of the county 
because of the existence of Arlington House--the most magnificent home 
in the area. Arlington House was built by Martha Washington's grandson, 
George Washington Parke Custis between 1802 and 1817 on an 1100-
acre tract of land he had inherited from his father, John Custis. The home 
and park-like grounds were visible from the newly-formed city of 
Washington, and were visited by dignitaries from this country and abroad.   
G.W.P. Custis built the house as a memorial to George Washington, 
the foster father who had raised him. Custis brought with him from Mount 
Vernon many of the Washington treasures and displayed them in his 
mansion for any who visited. Because his home was a museum to George 
Washington, he at first called it Mount Washington, but later selected the 
name Arlington House after the Custis family ancestral home on the 
Eastern Shore, when his sister preempted the use of that name by calling 
her nearby home Mt. Washington.  
Although G.W.P. Custis was our county's most distinguished 
resident during the first half of the nineteenth century, Arlington House is 
now a notable memorial to his son-in-law, Robert E. Lee. While never 
owned by Lee, he considered it home during his military leaves and lived 
there after Custis died in 1857 to administer the will and make 
improvements. The records for the settling of the will by Lee are in our 
county court records. 
Custis would have known the other landowners or farmers in the 
county and served on various committees with many. The Frasers of 
Green Valley Manor (the nearby Army Navy Country Club) were friends, as 
was John Mason (what is now Roosevelt Island). He most certainly would 
have known the nearby Roach family of Prospect Hill on Arlington Ridge 
Road; descendants of that family have a picture of Robert E. Lee and 
James Roach chatting over the fence that divided the two farms. 
Custis and other landowners in our county were expected to 
respond to calls for doing road repairs and he was in charge of gathering 
tithables for this work, which may have impelled him and others to support 
the new turnpike movement, where corporations were formed to build and 
maintain toll roads, or turnpikes, like the one that established Columbia 
Pike. 
G.W.P Custis built his mill at Four Mile Run in 1836 on part of the 
1200 acres he inherited from the first President and he encouraged his 
neighboring farmers in production that would make them and their country 
less dependent upon imported goods. His travels to Arlington Mill would 
take him along the local turnpike to the area that is now Barcroft.  
Arlington House Today. Arlington House remains a local jewel, but 
its grounds are now occupied by Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Myer 
(Fort Whipple during the Civil War), Henderson Hall Marine barracks, and 
the roads and parkway. Previously, the Freedman's Village, Arlington 
Experimental Farm (now at Beltsville) and the Syphax property were on 
those sites. 
 Lee left Arlington House to serve the Confederacy and his family fled 
just before federal troops occupied our county. The property was seized by 
the federal government when Mrs. Lee couldn't appear in person to pay 
the Insurrectionary Taxes imposed on all residents in the county. When 
finally reclaimed through legal action after the war, the property that was 
already a burial ground was sold to the government and maintained by the 
Army until the historic house was turned over to the U.S. Park Service. 
Arlington and Columbia Heights during the Civil War 
 With the onset of the Civil War and the occupation of the county by 
federal troops, the appearance and geography of our area was 
dramatically altered. At that time it was considered "enemy occupied 
territory," since the county was in Virginia, having been "retroceded" by 
Congress in 1847. The federal troops established their headquarters at 
Arlington House. Our turnpike became a route of military importance and 
Civil War maps show entrenchments along Columbia Pike in the Columbia 
Heights area along both sides of the road. 
 Eventually there were 19 forts built in Arlington to protect the Capitol 
city and the transportation lines into it. The largest of the early forts 
constructed immediately upon the occupation was Fort Runyon, built a 
half-mile south of Long Bridge to protect the junction of the Columbia and 
the Washington-Alexandria (what is now Route #1) Turnpikes. 
This map shows the location of civil war forts built in Arlington, in and around the 
Columbia Heights Neighborhood. Columbia Turnpike is in the center. 
 Shortly afterward Fort Albany was built in our area, near what is now 
the Pentagon. Following the First Battle of Bull Run, more fortifications 
were created, including Fort Craig (just north of Columbia Pike) and Fort 
Richardson (south of the Pike on the grounds of what is now the Army 
Navy Country Club. These were built "to command the plateau along which 
Columbia Pike passed. This turnpike was a major communication route to 
the heights of Munson's Hill four miles west of Arlington House." 
 Forts Berry (South Glebe Road at South 17th St. and Walter Reed 
Drive) and Barnard (South Pollard St. and Walter Reed Drive at the Fort 
Barnard Recreation Center) were other nearby forts, situated to protect the 
Four Mile Run and Glebe Road approaches to Alexandria. While the forts 
were never the scenes of battles, there were a few skirmishes, and they at 
times were active places with the arrival and restaging of units and a 
retreat for the weary and wounded returning from the battlefields. 
 Large landowners near the Columbia Heights area before the war 
include the Corbett, Young, Alexander and the Fraser families. The military 
occupation affected and confined the civilian population and destroyed the 
homes and crops of most of the residents and the nearby churches of 
Episcopalians and Methodists.  
Some residents in our area would have attended the local Hunter's 
Chapel, then located at the crossroads of the turnpike and Glebe Road. 
The little church was used as a picket post, block house, commissary, and 
stable, and then dismantled by federal troops.  
After the war, the Civil War Claims Commission held hearings and 
reimbursed somewhat those residents who could prove loyalty to the 
Union. Its records picture the devastating impact on the social, family and 
economic life of Arlington. Recovery would take many years; it wasn't until 
1900 that the congregation of Hunter's Chapel received $3,000 in 
compensation and rebuilt their church on the Bradbury tract (the northeast 
corner of the Pike and Walter Reed Drive). The church continues today a 
short distance away on Glebe Road as Arlington United Methodist Church. 
Additional information on taxes and reparations following the Civil 
War for residents in our area are included in Appendix A. Also included in 
that section is a history of several pieces of land, their owners and the 
history of property developments in the Columbia Heights Civic 
Association area. 
Columbia Heights and the "Toonerville Trolley" 
 By the late 
1890s, our nearby 
crossroads had 
become more the 
center of population 
on the Turnpike and 
housed the Post 
Office. When 
Alexandria County 
decided to move its 
court functions from 
the town, no longer 
part of the county, one 
of the areas 
contemplated was in 
our section of Columbia Pike. The final selection was land near where 
county offices are now located. 
 The stimulation 
for development in 
this area was the 
introduction, by the 
early 1900s, of a 
trolley line that 
connected Nauck to 
Rosslyn and other 
connections. The 
Columbia Station was 
situated where it 
crossed the Pike. 
Originally, the Washington, Arlington and Falls Church Company, it 
became known as Arlington and Fairfax Railway Company, but seems to 
have been referred to as the "Nauck line" or the "toonerville trolley" by local 
residents. 
 The local stop, Columbia station, was also the ticket office, a post 
office in some years, and an eatery in an old farm house on the Cora E. 
McIntosh property (formerly Taylor farm) where Eckerd's Pharmacy is 
now located.   
Arlington's first post office at Columbia Pike and South Walter 
Reed Drive, photo taken in August, 1916. 
The trolley went through Ft. Myer to Rosslyn and offered commuting 
access to the city. Dr. Charles B. Munson traveled via trolley to his D.C. 
dental practice until he obtained one of the first autos in the community. 
While his home is slightly out of our Columbia Heights area, he was 
probably the most noted resident of the community before neighborhoods 
were defined by civic association boundaries. (See more information about 
Dr. Munson in Appendix A.) 
By the 1913 period, the Columbia 
Heights area had about a dozen homes, 
and by the mid-twenties there appear to 
be approximately 24 homes or buildings 
in Columbia Heights, many still country 
homes but not necessarily farms, 
approached by lanes from the main 
thoroughfare, the Columbia Pike. The 
Munsons, Reeds, Corbetts, Macmillans, 
deLashmutts, Bradburys and others were 
old and interrelated families in our area, 
which was beginning to develop into a 
suburb of Washington, in large part due 
to the trolley system. 
The trolley continued until the late 1930s and when it was closed 
part of its right-of-way became what we know now as Walter Reed Drive. 
The Pike - 1870s to Present Day 
An article in the 
Alexandria Gazette of 
March 17, 1875 reports on 
the condition of our Pike: 
"The Arlington Turnpike Co., 
owing to the terrible 
condition of its road or 
perhaps to the ominous 
muttering of those who are 
so unfortunate as to have to 
travel it, have thrown its gate 
[toll gate] open until the road 
and the aforesaid mutters 
dry up."  By 1905 cattle were no longer driven from Barcroft Rail Station to 
the abattoir on the eastern end of the Pike.  
Robert Mays' Third Bus Line 
This  home at 13th Street and Edgewood 
is one of the few remaining homes that 
were built at the turn of the century as 
part of the "Trolley Village" developed 
along the trolley route down what is now 
Walter Reed Drive. 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture paved the road with concrete in 
1928 west to Palmer's Hill in Barcroft as part of its experimental testing 
program. By 1919, this area had bus transportation when Robert L. May 
and his wife started a bus company to take residents to D.C. This 
developed into AB&W Bus Line, with service to Alexandria, Barcroft and 
Washington. Eventually this was replaced by Metro. 
The War Years 
 The World War II years 
brought more changes with the 
building of The Navy Annex 
(Federal Office Building No. 2) on 
the hill known locally as Round 
Top, and the Pentagon further 
east. The George Pickett Homes 
were built on the western part of 
St. John's Orphanage on the south 
side of Columbia Pike between 
South Scott Street and Court 
House Road. Built on concrete 
slabs, this was emergency housing during and subsequent to World War II, 
primarily for military personnel and families. The Dorchester and 
Arlington Overlook now occupy that site.  
An accompanying photograph of the 
Huber children at the Pickett Homes shows the 
St. John Baptist Church in the background 
across Columbia Pike. This church is unrelated 
to the orphanage that had earlier occupied the 
Pickett Homes property. 
 The Columbia Heights and surrounding 
neighborhoods are well reported in a locally 
published newspaper oriented to the Columbia 
Pike Neighborhood, Columbia News, started in 
1941 at 1504 South Oakland Street and 
resumed in the years 1944 and 1945. Eugene 
Beard is listed as publisher for both volumes.  
   
 The paper notes that the county is developing toward the south and 
west. "With the beginning of the development of Arlington Village and the 
Lenora Faye Huber in the Picket Project on 
Jan. 3, 1946. The military housing included 
clothes' lines in each yard. 
The Huber children in a photo 
showing St. John the Baptist 
Church at Columbia Pike and 
Scott Street. 
business interests at Columbia Pike and Fillmore Streets there has 
continued a steady activity of construction along the Pike and in the 
residential section adjacent thereto. The new theatre and shopping center 
at Fillmore, and the recent development of Westmont, including a number 
of homes and the 'most modern shopping center to be found anywhere' all 
planned before defense activity began and now utilized to relieve 
congestion of the City of Washington." Additional details from this 
publication are included in Appendix A. 
 Housing needs were critical during periods of rapid growth in the 
country, and particularly during World War II. Two garden apartments in 
Columbia Heights have recently been placed on the National Register: 
Walter Reed Gardens (now the Commons of Arlington) and Arlington 
Village. [A detailed history of both Arlington Village and The Commons of 
Arlington is contained in Appendix A.]  The Historic Preservation 
Coordinator described the reason for their importance in a period and 
architectural context: 
From 1936 through 1952 garden apartment and low-rise apartment 
complexes were a dominant building type in Arlington County. The 
garden apartment developments were built for the growing influx of 
Federal employees who came first to work on the New Deal 
programs of the 1930s and then the WWII and post war era. These 
projects offered unusual solid construction and a generous amount 
of open space never before used for working family housing. These 
projects were among the first FHA insured developments and 
became prototypes for similar developments across the country. 
Bob & Edith’s Diner is an historic business 
on Columbia Pike. 
The Texaco Station was installed during 
the same era as Bob & Edith’s Diner. 
 Other apartment housing was added to the Columbia Pike area to 
accommodate a rapidly growing population in the metropolitan area. The 
Scott Terrace section has Arlington Overlook Apartments at 1201 South 
Scott Street, built in 1960 and managed by the Charles E. Smith Company. 
The Dorchester and The Dorchester Garden Apartments were built in 
1959 and 1956 and are Reinsch family properties.  
The area between Edgewood and Arlington Village is referred to on 
older maps as Arlington Hills and was developed on the old Buckley 
property. Single family homes here and in other subdivisions in Columbia 
Heights were built between 1900 and 1972, with most in the mid-thirties. 
The house at 2810 13th St. appears from photographs and subdivision 
plans to have been moved there to make room on the Oscar C. Dresser 
plot for the building of Walter Reed Gardens (now the Commons of 
Arlington). The subdivision on 16th Street South across from the Walter 
Reed recreation facility is called Foxhall, developed by Ashton Jones in the 
mid-thirties. One house there (2804) was built in 1904 and several have 
been built in recent years. 
Post War Planning 
 Wartime construction of housing, government offices and some 
businesses stimulated a land use planning study in 1958, which 
highlighted the traffic congestion, inadequate parking, and the need for 
more commercial services. Some of us may not have our homes today had 
the recommended Columbia Pike by-pass been built to route traffic around 
the business area. Subsequent discussions considered Columbia Pike as 
a possible route for the Metro subway. While that never materialized, a 
Metro tunnel junction was built at the Pentagon to accommodate a future 
subway line. 
 One of the more recent developments in the Columbia Heights area 
is the Barkley Condominium at 1016 South Wayne Street, opened in 
1982 by Barkley Associates of the Richmarr Construction Corporation. 
This is located what had been the Graham property. Fairway Village was 
developed about 1985 on a portion of Arlington Village property, along with 
a vacation of a portion of South Barton Street and 16th Street South in 
1985. 
 The Walter Reed Recreation Center was built in the early 1950s 
after the county bought the parcels of land on which it sits. The Center has 
served the Columbia Heights community for classes, recreation activity, as 
a polling place and for meetings. Diane Mason, daughter of Ozella 
Hickman, tells us that it hosted a teen club that began in 1957 and which 
had a football team, was open after school and longer on Fridays and 
Saturdays for arts and crafts, a band, dances and other activities. The 
Center also sponsored hayrides, roller skating, bowling and other 
excursions for young people. On Friday evenings in the summer movies 
were shown on the baseball field. The club had about 100 members and 
attracted teens from other places in the county because of the nice place 
to dance. 
 The Center is now closed 
and scheduled for demolition and 
the Columbia Heights Civic 
Association has worked with and 
heard from planners and 
developers of the green-building 
replacement. 
 The Columbia Heights 
community has a long history and 
one that continues to evolve 
through planned development on 
its main thoroughfare, Columbia 
Pike. Vestiges of its past are with 
us today in the configuration of land use and its development, the place 
names of past and present, the services we anticipate from our local 
commercial areas and the layout of its roads. 
 The area has seen land change from large farms, to garden market 
farms, to country estates, to a village-like community, to an urban 
neighborhood. Its history reflects the frequent change of ownership of land, 
the compiling and subdivision of tracts, the intermarriage of many area 
families, and a persistent theme of the residents of our area in improving 
their neighborhood, whether rural or suburban. 
During the 1990s, our area once again saw major changes with an 
influx in immigrants, coming from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, 
Europe and Africa. Children of Patrick Henry Elementary School celebrate 
over 50 countries of origin at their annual "International Dinner."  
Members of its civic association have been involved in activities that 
promote and plan for the safety, transportation needs, appearance, local 
businesses and the quality of life in their neighborhood. 
The Walter Reed Rec Center being 
demolished (2004). 
Appendix A: 
A History of Arlington County 
And Columbia Heights 
County Formation 
From 1741 to 1801 our county was part of Fairfax County. In 1801, 
however, the county became part of the federal district, and included the 
town of Alexandria. In fact, what we now know as Arlington County was 
then considered a rural part of the new Alexandria County and had less 
than a thousand residents.  
 The presence of the federal government seemed to attract only 
slight speculation and new settlement in the area across the river from the 
new federal city in these early years, but it would have a major impact on 
future population, infrastructure and development.  
With adoption of a new constitution in 1870, Alexandria County was 
divided into three magisterial districts: Washington in the North, Arlington 
in its mid-section and Jefferson in the South. The communities on 
Columbia Pike were in the Arlington District and called their neighborhood 
and post office "Arlington" long before the County adopted that name in 
1920. [See discussion of Arlington House in the History Section.] 
In 1801 Arlington County was formed out of Fairfax, not long before 
the turnpike was built, and it was then known as Alexandria County of the 
District of Columbia. The existing town of Alexandria was part of the new 
county and stayed so until it gained independence in 1870.  
By 1846, the merchants of the town of Alexandria were 
spearheading a movement to become part of Virginia again, and a 
referendum made Retrocession possible in 1847, even though the people 
in the rural part of the county were generally in support of remaining a part 
of the federal district. G.W.P. Custis and his neighbor Roach were two of 
the five Commissioners appointed by President Polk to oversee the poll 
taken at the Court House in the town of Alexandria and the list of voters 
from the Columbia Pike neighborhoods lists some for and some against 
Retrocession. In 1847, Alexandria County began a new life as a Virginia 
county. 
The confusion between a county and city having the same name 
brought about a movement to rename the county from Alexandria to 
Arlington in 1920. The 1930s brought major changes to Arlington. The old 
magisterial districts were eliminated to make way for a new form of 
government, the county manager system, which was inaugurated in 1932.  
Soon afterwards a new county board was in place and a committee 
was appointed to determine an orderly street naming system to correct 
duplications. For example, there were eleven Washington Streets or 
Avenues without any relation to each other. Postal and department store 
deliveries were difficult, and also there was a need for a central post office.  
J. Vernon Smith of Glebe Road represented our section of the 
county, and the committee came up with a grid plan similar to that in 
Washington, D.C. After much deliberation, debate and public hearings, 
new names were adopted in 1934. The changes for the few streets in 
Columbia Heights were as follows: 
Edgewood Street replaced Buckley Ave. [Gray on some maps.] 
Cleveland Street replaced Ehrhardt Ave. 
11th Street replaced Wilson Ave. 
12th Street replaced McAdoo Ave. 
13th St. replaced Underwood Ave. 
Rolfe Street replaced Hoard 
A short road along the trolley tracks beside the McIntosh tract had 
been called Bingham Road. The name was changed to Fillmore until the 
road and trolley route were renamed Walter Reed Drive around 1940.  
Civil War Insurrectionary Taxes and Reparation in Columbia Heights 
The Insurrectionary Taxes imposed upon property owners during the 
war were paid by residents on Columbia Pike in the Columbia Heights 
area: C.B. Graham on 40 acres (between Cleveland and Court House 
Rd.); Joshua Gibson who lived near Graham on a 23-acre tract, which he 
had purchased from Graham; William P. Taylor, located west of Gibson on 
his 37 acres; Septimus Brown, "Near Arlington" on 12 acres; S.B. Corbett 
with almost 262 acres; Cooper Corbett with 253 acres; Cornelia Corbettt 
with 4.5 acres; Henry M. Travers (sometimes spelled Travis on maps), 4 
acres at Taylor's Crossroads (sometimes called Hunter's, at Glebe Rd.); 
and J. W. Travers with 19.75 acres. 
Civil War maps show the Graham place, with batteries there and 
entrenchment and batteries throughout our area, and the scattered homes 
approachable from the Turnpike via long lanes. Elizabeth Taylor's claim, 
after William's death, was for timber, corn, vegetables, barn, wagon house, 
corn house, poultry house, earth and sod used in the erection of the forts. 
In her testimony, she described the farm as 47 acres, three miles from 
Long Bridge, bounded on the north by Columbia Pike, east by lands of 
Joshua Gibson, south by lands of G. Alexander and west by the lands of 
W.D. Lacey. This would put the farm on land that would be later bisected 
by the trolley.  
Ms. Taylor said they had bought the farm in 1849 for a market 
garden and that it was in front of Fort Richardson and Fort Berry. The 
neighbors who testified on her behalf as to her loyalty to the Union and to 
the extent of her loss, were Sewell Corbett, Robert Dyer and Henry W. 
Travers.  
The Corbetts were among the many New York families who came to 
Northern Virginia in the 1850s and they eventually owned much land in the 
area. Travers (whose family cemetery is on Monroe Street) said he saw 
sod hauled to Camp Distribution and the Invalid Corps Hospital from her 
place. Older residents still refer to the community in nearby Green Valley 
where the Convalescent Camp was located as "camp."  
The largest landowner next to Mrs. Lee in the county was Southern 
sympathizer Bushrod Washington Hunter, who along with Louisa Hunter 
lost nearly 1000 acres of land in our area. Property of those southerners 
who didn't pay the taxes in person, like the Lees and the Hunters, were 
seized and sold by the federal government. 
The Curtis B. Graham Property - A Journalism Treasure 
 The Graham property and family story is interesting for its ties to this 
period and the evolution of property use. This tract is immediately east of 
what became Arlington Village. We know about Curtis B. Graham from the 
writer of the Washington Evening Star's "Rambler" column. This featured 
stories of interesting places and people he visited on his walks or hikes 
around the Washington area. 
 On one of these, the journalist came upon an old home in an older 
grove of trees on Columbia Tunrpike  here in Alexandria County. He wrote 
about Graham and his home in his column of October 21, 1917 entitled, 
"Families who lived where Arlington Towers Stand." The radio towers north 
of the turnpike were distinctive landmarks from 1913 to 1941. The article 
contains family pictures on this country place, "Montrose," and descriptions 
of the family, neighbors and area. 
 Curtis B. Graham was a pioneer lithographic engraver who came 
from New York for employment with the Navy Department. He bought a 
house in the city and later, about 1847, purchased a home and grove 
along the Pike where he summered and then made his permanent 
residence.  
Before he purchased the property, he boarded with a Mrs. Walker, 
whose house was near where Fort Berry would later be built on the 100-
acre farm of C.B. Corbett and where his sons still lived at the time of the 
column. Graham walked to and from (and sometimes rode horseback) to 
Washington from Mrs. Walker's and admired the tract of land that he later 
purchased from an Englishman, Henry Hardy. Hardy was a friend of Mrs. 
E.D.E.N. Southworth and may have collaborated with her on novels.  
The Rambler introduced his readers to the Graham family and 
provided a description of the Columbia Pike areas, industries and nearby 
residents, including the Williams, Johnson, Young and Jenks families. He 
informed his readers that the Episcopal Orphan Asylum mentioned in oral 
history interviews and owned by the St. John's Episcopal Church in 
Washington had been built on Williams' land, along the Pike, at 2100 
Columbia Pike. 
 The Graham story is an example of several continuing themes in 
Arlington's history. Commuting, for example, is not new: today it is aided by 
wheels, rails and more bridges, but Graham wouldn't have known about 
traffic jams. Also, it appears that most of the people whose names 
appeared on early maps also served official functions in the local 
Alexandria County government or on committees, as we have seen with 
G.W.P. Custis of Arlington House. Curtis B. Graham served as 
Commissioner of Revenue from 1904-1911, and was on the Executive 
Committee for the Dedication of the Alexandria County Court House when 
the court relocated from the town of Alexandria to the area then known as 
Fort Myer Heights in 1898. A Miss Graham was on the Ladies' reception 
committee. Curtis B. Graham, Jr. served as the Arlington District 
representative on the County Board of Supervisors in 1884 and 1885.  
 The 1935 Franklin Survey Co. atlas of the county shows the division 
to heirs of the tract designated as "Curtis B. Graham est. Plan." While the 
grove of trees and old homes are gone, the Graham name lives on in the 
deeds of residents or owners of business property in the area. Dominion 
Plaza apartments on 1200 S. Courthouse Rd. was built in 1956 on one of 
the partitions of the Graham property. Part of Dominion Towers at 1201 
S. Courthouse Rd., built in 1958, is on part of the Graham land, along with 
parts of Fort Richardson and other properties. The Key Apartments at 
2112 Columbia Pike were built in 1961 by Ben H. Smith Jr. etc. on Lot 2 of 
Graham's land. Columbia Pike Apartments were built in 1972 by Graham 
Associates (B.M.Smith & Associates) on another part of the Graham tract. 
The Texaco station, Bob and Edith's Diner (1959), Citgo and Saah's 
Unpainted Furniture are businesses developed by B.M. Smith Associates 
on the Graham Tract. 
Williams' Property 
 The tract east of Graham's in 1860 was held by Richard Williams 
and he was taxed for 34.5 acres, with the tax paid by Septimus Brown. 
Richard inherited this tract in 1855 from Uncle Bazil Williams, whose farm 
was situated on both sides of the Turnpike. Bazil had acquired this 
property in 1829 from that old family who owned so much of the county, 
the Alexanders. Richard Williams sold his property to Sewell B. and Frank 
G. Corbett in 1864, and it went through subsequent subdivision and 
ownership.  
 Part was owned by the Close family, and their parcel was called 
"Roselawn" by 1878. That area was owned by St. John's Orphanage from 
1888-1955. The community that developed was referred to as Closeville, 
and the popular 1878 Hopkins map of Alexandria County shows settlement 
near there with the Arlington Post Office, and residents with the names 
Jas. Stevens, Dr. Smith, Cha. Calbert, S. Wibert, H.B. Austin and R. 
O'Dowd. The Wiberts were another family who were inveterate office 
holders and Stephen B. Wibert was Superintendant of Schools before his 
death in 1882. The part acquired in 1867 by H. Dwight Smith was sold to 
the Army Navy Country Club in 1925 when the club was acquiring the 
southern portions of these Columbia Pike tracts to add to the Fraser's 
Green Valley farm for building the club's golf courses. Richard William's 
tract is bisected now by Scott Street and has Dorchester Apartments, 
Dominion Towers Apartments, the Arlington Overlook buildings 
(formerly the Executive) and Lancaster Condominiums (formerly 
Homestead Apartments). 
Emma Buckley 
 Maps toward the end of the 19th Century continue to show 
settlement concentrated further east from Columbia Heights on the 
Turnpike around the Arlington Post Office, Johnston's store and the 
Episcopal Church, but a gradual moving of the population westward. By 
1878 Emma Buckley held a 53-acre tract in our area. She and her 
husband also bought one of the Alexander tracts south of Columbia 
Heights in 1867 and sold it to John D. Nauck, Jr. in 1874, the beginnings of 
the neighboring Nauck community. 
 Emma was a daughter of 
Sewell B. and Jane Corbett and had 
married Rudolph Buckley, a 
Washington furniture dealer, in 
1860. The Corbetts were among a 
number of New York families who 
migrated to Virginia in the 1850s 
and who acquired many farms. 
Corbett property across Columbia 
Pike from the Buckley tract 
eventually was owned by son-in-law 
Sanford Bradbury. The Corbetts had 
built their home there when they lost 
The home in the background was owned by 
Sanford Bradbury. Col. John Singleton 
Mosby wrote his memoirs in this house. 
their residence to Fort Berry, and it was on this Columbia Pike property 
where Col. John Singleton Mosby lived for a few years in the 1910s when 
it was owned by B.M. Smith.  
 Like the Graham tract, the Buckley (spelled Buchly in some deeds) 
property figures in the subdivision and development of the Columbia 
Heights area. The commercial property on the south side of Columbia Pike 
near the Edgewood crossing was developed by B.M. Smith on the Buckley 
property. Local lore tells us that the old Buckley home sat where the 
parking lot for Ski Chalet is located, and that it was eventually hidden from 
view by the stores surrounding it. Also shown on the 1878 map are C. 
Graham and H.D. Smith properties. The latter came here from New York in 
1867 and is listed as a merchant and farmer who served as a supervisor in 
the county from 1870 to 1873. 
Dr. Charles B. Munson 
 One of the most noted residents of this area after the turn of the 
century, Dr. Munson spent his retirement years actively buying land and 
building houses and commercial structures, including the Arlington 
Theater and Dorchester Towers. The land on which the latter was 
developed was long owned by the family. 
 His home on 13th and Irving included farm land, barn, cattle, 
orchards and gardens, and had been a small cottage used by Union troops 
in the Civil War and added onto many times by him and subsequent 
owners. 
 While the original parts of this home predate others that were here in 
the early 1900s, one can see a few homes built in our area in the early 
1900s on both sides of the former trolley line in area that is now known as 
Walter Reed Drive. These comprise what many refer to as a trolley village, 
having developed from the trend at the turn of the 20th century to live away 
from the cities and in the suburbs when transportation was available.  
History of Business in the Area 
In the 1920s and early 1930s, the area was served by three stores: 
Sher's had meats, grain feed and groceries and had operated as a country 
store since early in the 1900s where the Arlington Theater was later built.
At that point it moved to the South side of Columbia Pike on the old 
Buckley tract.  Sam Eller's was another grocery in the community, and 
Johansen's Candy Store served as a memorable gathering place.  
Older residents in South 
Arlington continue to refer to the 
Sher market as "The Jew Store," 
with no derogatory intent. Mr. Sher 
was one of the leading and most 
highly admired citizens of the 
county. During the Great 
Depression he allowed residents 
to keep running tabs at his store. 
His kindness and generosity is 
credited for saving many families 
in the Columbia Heights, Barcroft, 
Alcova Heights, Penrose and 
Arlington View neighborhoods 
from starvation.  
An interview with Everett E. Norton tells us that his father opened a 
restaurant in 1924 at Columbia Pike and Edgewood, where the Ski Chalet
is now located. At first called Columbia Quick Lunch and later called 
Norton's Café, it was operated after World War II by Everett and a brotherin-law and was a popular gathering place for almost fifty years, with Tom 
Jackson's chili a specialty. It was a popular eatery for the Pentagon crowd 
during the war years.  The second floor once housed a beauty parlor 
operated by Grace Richmond, nee Stoneburner. 
That block of the Buckley tract eventually became a thriving 
commercial area, with stores on Edgewood and with Norton's, Sher and 
Cohen's grocery, Malone's Hardware, Dominick's Shoe Repair, 
Dependable Cleaners, Ehrhardt's, and the Animal Hospital on Columbia 
Pike. 
The local bank was Jake White's Peoples Bank on the southwest 
former of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive. It became Old Dominion 
Bank and moved a few doors away in 1948. Old Dominion Bank became 
First Virginia Bank in 1970, whose founder and Chairman of the Board was 
Edwin T. Holland, father of former State Senator Holland. The bank 
became First Virginia Bank with Mr. Holland as founder and chairman of 
the board. It has recently become BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust). 
Redevelopment by the Georgelas Group of McLean for "The Lofts at 
Columbia Station" is under consideration at present for that corner, 
exclusive of the bank building. 
C.F. Burner's Emporium in 1909, later to 
become M. Sher & Son General Merchandise. 
Now the site of the Arlington Cinema and Draft 
House on Columbia Pike. 
The Uncommon Market 
 From 1976 to 2003 the Arlington Food Cooperative, known as the 
Uncommon Market, was located at 1041 S. Edgewood Street, in what had 
once been the local firehouse. It was first incorporated in 1976, and was 
founded by the Arlington Cooperative Organization. 
 That group was founded in the 1960s to promote the values of 
community-building, develop alternative economic systems, create greater 
health, social and lifestyle diversity, promote environmentalism and 
engage in consumer education. 
 Within the first three to four years of its founding, 500 people each 
purchased $10 shares of the Arlington Food Cooperative, making them 
member-owners of equal vote. Membership increased tenfold over the 
years. Through the years the organization suffered a number of financial 
crises, only to be saved from the brink of extinction by campaigns 
launched by members who were dedicated to its survival. 
 The 2003 demise of the Uncommon Market was due to a number of 
factors, including the fact that products and services once unique to the 
local co-op began to be carried by larger food chains (Giant, Safeway) and 
the introduction of newer, better financed and more efficient natural food 
outlets (Whole Foods Market, My Organic Market (M.O.M), Fresh Fields 
and Trader Joe's). 
 Other problems that plagued the Uncommon Market included 
chronic under-capitalization via low membership fees, a location on a side 
street with poor visual prominence, and chronic problems related to its low 
budget, including temperamental equipment, the inability to attract qualified 
managers and an excessive reliance on partially-trained volunteers.  
 Despite these limitations, The Uncommon Market was credited for 
major achievements in the community, including: 
ƒ Launching the County's first recycling program; 
ƒ Initiating the first long-lasting farmer's market (which continues to 
this day); 
ƒ Supporting local organic farmers; 
ƒ Promoting greater self-awareness of health, diet and agricultural; 
economics through its consumer-education policy and commitment 
to sustainable agriculture; 
ƒ Creating a forum for all ages, lifestyles, races and ethnic groups to 
experience community interaction, friendships and even marriages; 
ƒ Remaining faithful to "one member, one vote;" and 
ƒ Supporting independent thinking and grass-roots organizing. 
A History of Schools in Columbia Heights 
 The local school for our area was a one-room schoolhouse that had 
once been a private school and which became a county-operated public 
school in 1871. It sat on a half-acre plot at S. Wayne Street. 
 As needs grew and the population developed westward on the Pike, 
the county built a new Columbia School on the "Brown" lot (formerly the 
Taylor farm) slightly west of what is now Walter Reed Drive. Each of the 
districts of Alexandria County had its own Board of Trustees and Dr. 
Munson (mentioned above) served on the Arlington District Board, with 
other local residents. 
 The new Columbia School House was dedicated on June 14, 1904 
with what now sounds like elaborate ceremonies, including prayer 
offerings, a union presentation of Bible and flag, speech by Hon. A.P. 
Douglas, Chairman of the Arlington District School Board, and by J.E. 
Clements, county school superintendent, and several others. The highlight 
was a surprise presentation of a silver service from the citizens of 
Columbia to Augustus Davis, Jr. in appreciation for his building the school. 
The flag was unfurled by Miss Evangeline daughter of Dr. and Mrs. C.B. 
Munson, and the 5th cavalry band from Ft. Myer played the "Star Spangled 
Banner." 
The "New" Columbia Pike School 
opened in 1904 on Columbia Pike 
near the Southwest corner of what is 
now Walter Reed Drive. 
The original Thomas Jefferson Junior High School, 
now the site of the Columbia Pike Branch Library 
and Career Center. 
 The building was described in a newspaper article as being about 60 
feet square, two stories high, surmounted by a tower, the lower floor being 
divided into two school rooms and the second story to be used as a public 
hall.  
 This school was replaced by Patrick Henry School when it was built 
at Fillmore and 7th Street in 1925 on the old Miles Munson farm across 
Columbia Pike. The old building continued as a community hall and library 
until demolished in 1941. A new Patrick Henry Elementary School was 
rebuilt in 1975 at Highland and Walter Reed Drive, directly behind the old 
Patrick Henry. The Career Center was built on the site of the original 
Thomas Jefferson Junior High School. 
Library Service for Columbia Heights 
 Our area had a library as early as 1930 when the Community Library 
Club rented a double garage next to Patrick Henry School, and later in the 
abandoned Columbia School near the corner of the Pike and Walter Reed 
Drive. The building was called "The Community Hall." 
 When it was torn down in 1941, the collections were moved in 1942 
to a new store building at 911 S. Glebe Road. The library had become a 
branch of the new county library system in 1938. In 1959, it moved again 
to new quarters at 3239 Columbia Pike and in 1975 from the Westmont 
Shopping Center to share a building with the Arlington Career Center at 
816 S. Walter Reed Drive, the former site of Thomas Jefferson Junior High 
School. 
Fire Service for Columbia Heights 
 Evidently the first fire truck for the area was housed in a barn on the 
Snoot's Farm where Westmont Shopping Center is now located. At some 
point, B.M. Smith donated land in the 3200 block of the Pike and later a 
structure on Edgewood across from what is now Eckerd's Pharmacy. For 
many years The Uncommon Market was housed in what was commonly 
referred to as "The Old Fire Station." 
The Columbia News 
As noted earlier, The Columbia News was launched in 1941 and 
operated sporadically throughout the war years. The early issues of 
Columbia News heralded the opening of the new Westmont Shopping 
Center and listed the businesses installed there, included ads for 
businesses and services on the Pike, expressed concerns about the bus 
service to the new War Department Building (not yet called The Pentagon) 
and to the new Arlington Village area. It also reported on changes in 
property ownership and planned construction and stated hopes for a new 
Post Office. Areas under construction included Arlington Village and 
Barcroft Apartments.
1
  
 Business ads included one for Dependable Cleaners and Tailors, 
Charles J. Sher, Manager, 3008 Columbia Pike in the Charles Building. 
This issue mentioned several times the relocation of postal services, and 
one article stated that there was to be a branch somewhere near Columbia 
Pike and Glebe Road. "While the exact location is not known, this station 
will be located in this section about April 1, 1941." [This turned out to be 
the Post Office on Columbia Pike at Monroe; it would take another 50 plus 
years for the present Glebe Road site to come to fruition.] Another editorial 
supported citizen and county government protests to the expansion of 
Arlington National Cemetery. 
 The 1944 issues continued to promote the Pike's commercial 
enterprises and announced what sounds like a precursor to CPRO in that 
"Plans are being initiated for the forming of an organization of business 
and professional interests and all citizens who are interested in the general 
welfare of the Columbia Pike area and to take an active part in postwar 
efforts to develop and improve this section." 
 The issues reflected home-front activity, war casualties from local 
families, postwar planning, development, neighborhood news, clinics and 
teen dances at the Pickett Homes, church activities and county 
government actions. William Snoots of the family associated with Fire Hall 
#1 was one of the war casualties.  
One item bemoaned the loss of "Heflin's," a local landmark, the 
weathered old tavern at Fillmore and the Pike. Business ads included 
"Home Cooked Foods" at Norton's Café at 2718 Columbia Pike. Another 
                                                        
Volume II carries the address 1035 S. Edgewood and by March 1945 its address was 3010 Columbia Pike. 
These newspapers were recently donated to the Virginia Room, Central Library, and will be available for use 
after they have been preserved. There is only one issue for Volume I, Dec. 18, 1941, and it is not known if 
there were others or if issues are missing. It may be that wartime paper and manpower shortages 
intervened. Volume II, #1 is dated Nov. 1, 1944 and that volume contains 25 issues through Oct. 15, 1945. 
There is a loose copy inserted into the volume and called The Virginia News, Vol. 3, #18, dated Aug. 1, 
1946. It is the same address as the earlier paper and states that it is "successors to The Columbia News." 
We can only hope more issues turn up as these existing ones give us an interesting account of life along the 
Pike in these years. There are news items on the businesses as well as the neighborhoods. 
ad announced that the Munson Estate planned to develop property at the 
Pike and South Highland, on property adjoining the A&P. For much of our 
history, Smith and Munson were the main developers in the area.  
Another issue described the McIntosh property, "a pioneer home of 
the area, has one of the finest old shady yards in the whole Pike area, 
fenced in with tall hedges, and a half-circle driveway cutting in near the 
Pike and coming out at the end of the property on the S. Edgewood side." 
This describes what became the Eckerd Pharmacy location. Development 
is currently planned on the McIntosh property by Capstone behind the drug 
store.  
Development of the Walter Reed Park 
 In the 1980s, following the County’s published General Land Use 
Plan (GLUP), Columbia Heights Civic Association led a community-wide 
movement to consolidate three houses and a very large garage on land 
shown to be parkland on the GLUP map. 
 One house, facing S. 16
th
 Street near Walter Reed Drive, was used 
by the County’s drug and alcohol counseling staff for daytime counseling. 
Problems arose when the county rented the facility to Alcoholics 
Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) programs in the 
evenings. The program managers paid no attention to numbers, parking 
and noise, so at the community’s urgent request, the building was closed 
and demolished. The programs were moved to a commercial building on 
Columbia Pike. 
 The garage next to that house was used for storage of County 
vehicles and tools. It was discovered that the building had been broken 
into for drug use. Drug paraphernalia was found in and around the 
building. The County demolished it and found other storage. 
 On the east end of the property, there were two private single-family 
homes located on what the County had planned for the east end of the 
park. An in-fill developer wanted to build 20 townhouses on the property 
and CHCA fought that at County Board meetings. Our Neighborhood was 
already packed with cars and traffic, and the GLUP designated those lots 
as parkland. 
 The Board agreed with the CHCA, and the County bought the 
houses. At the County’s request, the community agreed that, until such 
time as the park was to be redeveloped, one house would be designated 
for persons living with AIDS and the other for persons living with Praeder 
Willy Syndrome. Those usages proved to be beneficial and were wellaccepted by the Neighborhood. Partly because of expensive maintenance 
challenges that these two older homes posed to the County, the programs 
were discontinued after about 4-5 years. The two buildings were eventually 
demolished and the land converted to park space. 
 Ken Fredgren was President of Columbia Heights Civic Association 
during much of this negotiation. Other active neighborhood members 
included Peter Jones, who continues to be involved in the development of 
Walter Reed Community Park, and Ruth Stewart, who developed the 
Cleveland Park and was also very supportive of the development of the 
Walter Reed Park. Ken Fredgren was succeeded by Sarah McKinley as 
President, who continues to be active in the civic association. 
Development of Arlington Village 
The largest development within this civic association area is 
Arlington Village, a garden apartment area developed after 1939 when 
Gustave Ring bought the Graham and other tracts (possibly assembled by 
B.M. Smith) for $362,500. In 1900 this area was part of the Buckley Estate 
and consisted of small farms. By the time of Ring's purchase, this area of 
Columbia Pike reflected more of a village than a rural area. 
The organization that Ring put 
together for designing, building and selling 
the units in Arlington Village was a model 
of efficiency. It no doubt benefited from his 
experience in developing other FHA 
insured projects, including the Colonial 
Village in North Arlington. In order to 
accommodate the potential buyers in an 
era when people were still wary after the 
depression and salaries were not large, he 
needed to build as inexpensively as 
possible. In planning his concept of a 
suburban village with housing, streets, a 
business district, sewage and water 
systems, electric and heating systems, 
parks and recreation areas, and using 
FHA guidelines, he formed his 
organization of architect, landscape architects, real estate agents, 
contractors and apartment manager, all specialists. 
Arlington Village  under 
construction. Taken from across 
Columbia Pike at Barton Street. The 
building at the left is B.M. Smith's 
real estate office. 
The architect was the same as the one he had used in Colonial 
Village, Harvey Warwick of Washington, who designed buildings with 
changing roof forms, materials, elevations and with a variety of sparse 
colonial revival details. The 661 apartments were built on 12% of the 
acreage, which allowed for 47 acres of green space, parks, recreation 
area, yards, roads, parking spaces and services. 
Apartments were built around five super blocks after constructing S. 
Barton Street and shortening S. Cleveland Street, lengthening 15th Street 
and Edgewood. Each apartment had a front court and private back court. 
Through selective use of standardized components, purchasing materials 
in bulk, and tightly scheduled work, he was able to provide rental units to 
carefully selected clients at $11 a room. Ring's building permit was 
obtained in March 1939 and renters moved into the first completed section 
by July of the same year. 
Local lore is that second floor bedrooms were juxtapositioned or 
overlapped over other units to avoid Arlington's strong objection to "row 
houses," but a scholarly study of Arlington Village indicates this was done 
for the three-bedroom units only, to maintain the economy of rectangular 
form. 
Ring sold the development 11 years later to New England Life 
Insurance Co. for $5 million, having increased his original investment 
666%. These owners installed the swimming pool, tennis courts and more 
off-street parking. It was sold again in 1979 to Arlington Village Associates 
for $9.7 million, the buyers being Frank S. Phillips, Preston Caruthers, 
Terry Eaken and Paul Nesetta. Their intention was to convert the units to 
condominiums. Opposition resulted in their selling 98 units to Holladay 
Corp. for $2.5 million. Holladay was a cooperative organization 
experienced in leasing to elderly and low income individuals. Their plan 
was to sell some units for less than the condos. 
Development of The Commons of Arlington 
The Commons of Arlington is a small development in this area. 
These four buildings (eighteen separate addresses) were built in 1948 as a 
rental garden complex of 134 units, 56 being one-bedroom apartments and 
78 as two-bedroom units. Known as Walter Reed Gardens, these sit upon 
5.33 acres of land of the Dresser and Tinkle subdivisions. It has been said 
that it was developed and built by the same company as Fillmore Gardens, 
developed in 1942 by Banks and Lee, Inc., an Alexandria based building 
firm. They were part-owners in the original Fillmore Gardens, Inc., along 
with the Burka family from Arlington. Arthur P. Davis was architect for 
Fillmore Gardens and designed Walter Reed Gardens to be identical to 
Rock Creek Gardens in Washington, D.C. 
Walter Reed Gardens was developed as The Commons of Arlington 
by the Investment Group Development Corporation, the agent and 
nominee of GLM of Arlington, Virginia, Inc., a DC corporation. The 
Nominee Agreement of 1982, filed in the land records of the county in 
1982, presents a proposal for condominium ownership that described 
planning, renovation program, replacement of roofs and windows, 
pavement and masonry, new landscaping, new hot water heating system, 
all new kitchens, renovated bathrooms, upgraded plumbing and electrical 
systems and individual heating and air-conditioning units. Converted units 
were offered for sale at $55,000 - $59,000 for one-bedroom units and 
$62,00 - $71,000 for two-bedroom units. 
*courtesy

:  Arlington County Civ Fed.

Ċ
Jayson Wingfield,
Feb 3, 2013, 10:43 PM
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