For the final Reston Then and Now — a series where we’ve used Fairfax County’s aerial photography to track changes in the area — we’re looking at the area overall and at how far it’s come since its founding.
Reston was founded in 1964, but some of the paths that are roads today — like Baron Cameron Avenue — are still visible in photography from 1937. Reston’s iconic man-made lakes are also absent, leaving most of the area that’s Reston today just open fields.
By 1976 though — 10 years after Reston was founded — the region was starting to take shape in the neighborhoods around Lake Anne and Lake Thoreau. The village design envisioned by founder Robert E. Simon is still apparent in those early aerial photographs showing retail and residential areas clumped together.
But over the years, those isolated communities start to become increasingly interconnected to the point of being almost indistinguishable from above. By the mid-1990s, the only major patch of green space around Reston is Colvin Run near Lake Fairfax and southeast of Lake Anne.
After the Reston Town Center starts showing up in aerial photography in 1990 (construction began in 1988) the development starts to shift west of the original area and more toward major transit routes.
In the photography from 1990, construction also starts to bunch around the Dulles Toll Road in the Reston Station neighborhood. The Toll Road was built in 1982, and by the early 2000s, the urban centers of Reston shift away from the villages to the north and south and more towards the developments along the major highway. This density starts to ramp up in 2011 as the area builds up for the Silver Line’s opening in 2014.
The density continuing to focus around the Silver Line is poised to continue as developers plan new mixed-use buildings near Woodland Park by the planned Herndon Silver Line Metro station.
The Reston Then and Now series is going back to where we started for our penultimate episode: Lake Anne Plaza.
Anyone flicking through the photos overhead — taken from Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer — might have noticed that very little has changed at the plaza itself over the years.
But as the Lakeside Pharmacy icons show, there’s been plenty of changes in tenants and aesthetics over the years. While he’s somewhat dismissive of them as historic relics, Wayne Schiffelbein, a local artist and architect who once repainted and fixed up the icons at the owner’s request, said the icons and the damages to them tell the story of earlier unease between Reston and Herndon.
“We had people that lived in and around Herndon who did not take kindly to Reston being there, especially ‘northern folk’, like Jews and Blacks being there,” said Schiffelbein. “The people [in Reston] had college degrees. Not only were the houses more expensive, but they were driving better cars, and people knew that.”
Back in the 1960s, as Reston was first getting started, Schiffelbein said there was a lot of tension between Restonians and Herndon residents who would come into areas like Lake Anne Plaza and cause trouble.
Schiffelbein remembered summers where kids from Herndon would come over to his house by Lake Anne, climb onto the roof and jump out into the lake. Not exactly a campaign of terror, but Schiffelbein said the Reston residents were annoyed by the constant footfalls on the roof.
It was during these early years of class-tension that Schiffelbein said the drug store icons obtained the damages some of them still show.
“They discovered they could carry a sheath knife around,” Schiffelbein said. “The drug store had… soft wood. So the knifes would stick. There were tables in front of the drug store where you could have sat and had coffee while playing chess. They would throw their knives at the walls. It took a couple years, but it took chunks out of pieces of wood from the backing and pieces that were there. Toothbrush took a bunch of hits. Comb didn’t do much better. They dinged the bandaid.”
But it was Vietnam that partially put an end to the local turmoil, with many of the young men from Herndon swept up by the draft.
“Tensions with Reston and Herndon went down over time,” Schiffelbein. “Some of the Herndonites were drafted and some of them just grew up, and we’ll leave it at that. It’s something you do as a 15- and 16-year-old is not as appealing when you’re 22.”
In the 1990s, Schiffelbein said he was contracted to repaint and fix the icons after years of neglect.
“If I squint, it’s a flashback to the drugstore,” Schiffelbein said. “It was a real drugstore. It had a counter, some seats at the counter. It was old fashioned drug store. It was very nice. It was small, everybody knew everybody. But as the community grew that ebbed away.”
In the early days of the pharmacy, Schiffelbein said it catered mainly to the older residents at the Lake Anne Fellowship House.
“The older people used a lot of prescription drugs and that was before insurance companies required you to go to their pharmacy,” Schiffelbein said. “In the early years, they would amble across the road and fill 50 or 60 scripts a day. There was a stream of people going into the drug store. A lot of New Yorkers and New Jerseyites moved to Reston in the early years. There was an old man there who played the races. The owner got racing forms every year. I remember that as clear as a bell, I can still see the man’s face.”
For more Reston Then and Now, check out these earlier stories and come back next week for final Then and Now:
The regional wood-fired pizza franchise Matchbox just announced plans to move into Reston early next year.
The franchise just signed a lease for 1900 Reston Metro Plaza Drive in Suite 100, according to a statement from a public relations agency representing Matchbox.
“The space is 5,500 square feet and offers expansive patio dining,” the agency said in an email. “The veteran D.C. restaurant group is currently focused on regional expansion within the DMV, targeting smaller, neighborhood-focused properties.”
The email says the restaurant is planning on opening in Reston Station in early 2020.
Other upcoming Matchbox locations include one in Silver Spring opening tomorrow (Friday) and ones in Penn Quarter and Bethesda opening this summer.
If you can’t wait that long, your best bet is the Matchbox locations in Ashburn (44720 Thorndike Street) or the Mosaic District (2911 District Ave).
Photo via Facebook
Renovations for Armstrong Elementary School are in the works, but it’s going to be a few years.
A 10-year forecast shows the renovation process spread out from fiscal years 2022-2026 in the Fairfax County Public School CIP.
Planning for the project is expected to start in FY 2022 with funding from a 2021 bond, with permitting beginning the next year.
The school first opened in 1986 and since then, according to county documents, there’s been no substantial renovations except for capacity enhancements in 1990.
The Hunter Mill District’s School Board Representative, Pat Hynes, noted in a newsletter that Armstrong, Crossfield and Louise Archer elementary schools are all planned for additions and renovations over the next 5-10 years.
Photo via Facebook
Lake Anne Hair Design at Lake Anne Plaza (11404 Washington Plaza W) is being sold following the death of longtime owner Randy Burr in January.
The hair studio has been in business in Reston for 30 years as a no-appointment-needed barber shop.
According to an obituary, Burr went to barber school at 17 and started the design studio in the late 1970s.
“[Burr] became a neighborhood fixture waiting to strike up a conversation or watch any tennis-match on TV,” according to the obituary. “He, a true optimist, was always genuinely willing to help others in any way he could.”
In a Facebook post after Burr’s death, Lake Anne Plaza wrote a short tribute:
Randy has been on Lake Anne Plaza almost from the beginning- cutting hair, making jokes, telling stories and waving at the passersby from his comfortable chair outside his shop. He will be missed by many.
Photo via Robyn Burdett Real Estate Group
This week on Then and Now, we’re going back to South Lakes to take a look at Lake Audubon.
With help from Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer, which offers aerial views of the county dating back to 1937, Reston Now has put together a look at how the lake has evolved from overhead and under the surface.
Audubon is the largest of Reston’s lakes in both it’s acreage — 43.5 acres — and it’s extensive watershed covering 1,558.5 acres.
While Lake Thoreau holds 26.5 million gallons of water, it’s southern twin holds 133.6 million gallons.
Lake Audubon and Lake Thoreau were conceived to be one lake, then named Lake Elsa. The lake was impounded in 1971 and was named for Reston founder Robert Simon’s mother.
But in 1979 the South Lakes dam bisected the property and split the lake, creating Lake Thoreau in the North and Lake Audubon in the south.
For years, the southern area closed off by the dam, but for years afterwards remained a dry pit. During the 1980s, the lake was filled in with water.
But while the lake shows very little change from above between 1997 and 2017, there were plenty of changes taking place beneath the water’s surface. In those years, several new species of aquatic wildlife was introduced to the lake, including:
- Redear Sunfish
- Black Crappie
- Brown Bullhead
- American Eel
In more recent years, the levels of contamination in the water continue to be a problem, caused in large part by the lake’s large surface area. According to a 2017 report on Reston’s lakes, Lake Audubon’s has faced increasing amounts of toxic algae that pose an ecological threat to the lake.
For more Reston Then and Now, check out:
The Reston Community Center (RCC) is planning a concert and meet-and-greet with acclaimed pianist George Fu.
The event is set for Thursday, April 4, from 2:15-3:30 p.m at the CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Rd). The concert will be free and appropriate for all ages.
A Facebook post for the event says Fu will be joined by Chelsea Wang, a classmate from the Curtis Institute of Music, for a four-hand piano recital.
The concert is part of the RCC’s ongoing Meet the Artists series. Fu was previously featured in the RCC’s Meet the Artists series in 2016.
Fu has worked with a variety of orchestras, including performing as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, and is returning to Reston following a stint at the London Conservatory of Music.
Photo via Facebook
(Updated at 14:25) Almost two years after its ceremonial groundbreaking, the Hunters Woods Retirement Community at 2222 Colts Neck Road in Reston is planning on opening in two months.
According to an employee at Hunters Woods, the first residents will be moving in end of May.
The $72 million project will add 210 housing units. Of those, 91 will be for independent living, 80 will be for assisted living and the remaining units will be a mix of memory care and continuing care.
The new complex will also bring 200 new jobs to Reston, mostly in hospitality and resident wellness fields.
In addition to housing, the Hunters Woods Retirement Community will include multiple dining venues, resident gardens, several fitness centers, an art gallery and a movie theater.
Photo via Facebook
But what’s happened in the years since then?
In short: not much.
“The short answer is that we don’t have any additional information, including whether this was a slave cemetery,” Brian Worthy, a public information officer for Fairfax County government said in an email. “As far as I know, there are no preservation protections in place, and there no redevelopment proposals for this location.”
County records say the story of the potential cemetery is tied with that of Mildred Johnson, the matriarch of a prominent local family of Union loyalists. The Johnson family owned hundreds of acres of farmland in Fairfax, with one son fighting for the Union and Mildred Johnson herself sewing sacks for Union soldiers.
The Johnsons owned slaves, including one female slave held by the family for 20 years, and a plot of land 200 yards north of the log clubhouse is reported to have been the slave burial ground.
But while there’s no official recognition of the site as a slave cemetery, Worthy said the area is recognized in county documents as some kind of unmarked cemetery and thus would require study prior to redevelopment.
“The adopted Reston Master Plan acknowledges this unmarked cemetery,” Worthy said. “It states that any required surveys and studies should conducted if this site is planned for redevelopment, and the Master Plan recommends the cemetery be preserved. The county wouldn’t conduct any studies or survey unless there’s a development proposal on the table.”
A group of Reston and Herndon residents has come together to form a grassroots local dog-walking group.
According to the Meetup page for Herndon/Reston Walking With Dogs Morning Exercise, the 23 member group is open to the public — not just for people who own dogs, but for people who would like to walk with them as well.
“I would love to form a morning walking group for people who have or don’t have dogs,” the group’s organizers said on the page. “This would be an hour or so walk on the pathways in the surrounding area.”
The group was formed in late November, according to its Meetup page.
The group’s next walk is scheduled for this Friday (March 29) at 8 a.m. at the Foxclove Road trail. Sturdy shoes are suggested, and leashes are required.
The hike is estimated to be around an hour and a half.
Photo via Meetup
Most of the new developments around town profiled by Reston Then and Now are village centers with new residents cropping up around them over time, but North Point Village Center is a little different.
Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer shows how the village grew first with the center being placed later at it’s heart — filling in Reston’s northern frontier.
Not including the Reston Town Center, North Point was the last of Reston’s village centers. In the 1960s, while the other villages were under construction, North Point was a sweeping expanse of untamed wilderness.
Construction on North Point Village started in 1982, and in 1993 the North Point Village Center opened to the public.
The area has changed very little from overhead since 2002, but there’s plenty of turnover on the ground. In December Koko FitClub closed, and a new Thai restaurant opened two months later down the street.
Despite some noble intentions, fundraising to save the Lakeside Pharmacy icons is not going well.
The Reston Historic Trust and Museum’s GoFundMe — which started in August — has only raised $1,663 of its $15,000 goal.
The goal of the fundraiser is to clean and reinstall the icons, currently being held in storage, in a new exhibit about the 1960’s pop art aesthetic that was a core part of early Reston history.
Alexandra Campbell, a media contact for the Reston Museum, said despite public interest — Campbell said stories related to the icons are some of their most popular social media posts — the donations to the fundraiser have been slow to trickle in.
While Campbell said there have been a few donations to the fundraiser outside of the GoFundMe, Carolyn Flitcroft, elected chair of the board for the organization, said in an earlier interview that it can be difficult to rally support for a fundraiser that’s for something that seems less dire than homelessness or hunger.
Campbell said the Reston Historic Trust is hoping for a boost with a fundraiser next week. A triathlon hosted by New Trail Cycling Studio and Lake Anne Brew House on March 27 will give a portion of the proceeds to the Reston Historic Trust.
Despite the fundraising setbacks, the organization is moving forward with the permitting process to get the icons on display. According to Campbell, the deadline to get the permits scheduled for review in April is next week, so it’s all hands on deck as the group works to get the application finalized.
Photo via Reston Historic Trust
Back by popular demand, Reston Then and Now takes a look at Hunters Woods Village Center — the people’s choice with 38.8 percent of the vote in last week’s poll.
Like with some of the other village centers, Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer shows wild spurts of growth from the 1970s through the 2000s before tapering off.
The center was first approved in 1965 as the second village center, following the success of the Lake Anne Village Center. According to a comprehensive history of the site by Northern Virginia Digital History Archive, the development was designed to be a mix of residential, retail and professional uses that would as one of several village centers that would be just as accessible by foot or bike as it would be by car.
Construction began in 1971, and by 1972, the first stores started opening. The grand opening was celebrated with an Elizabethan-themed fair.
But problems began to emerge for the center within the decade. By 1978, the surrounding area saw robbery rates 25 percent higher than the rest of Fairfax County and a series of sexual assaults in the area diminished the utopian allure. Despite the crime wave, rents continue to go up, and local leaders began to recognize that the development was not as ideal for business as initially imagined.
While the aerial photography showed the site continuing to grow, behind the scenes there were several changes in ownership and — as was the case with other village centers — competition from newer shopping centers across Reston and Herndon that were starting to draw customers away.
By the late 1990s, it was widely recognized that the Hunters Woods Village Center was not the vibrant community hub it had once been hoped to be. In 1997, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a $14 million redevelopment plan.
Between 1990 and 2002, most of the original buildings were demolished and replaced with more modern retail, including Safeway as an anchor tenant. The Safeway is still there, though it recently lost its SunTrust bank. The site has remained largely stagnant since then and changed hands in 2010.
Its addition to a rundown of potential spots for new residential development in a 2017 list put together by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning means that changes for the site could be on the horizon.
A play about two women’s rivalry for the affections of a mutual lover is coming to Herndon’s NextStop Theatre (269 Sunset Park Drive) next month.
“Fallen Angels” dramatizes sexual desire and frustration as two housewives prepare to meet with an “exotic” former lover. The show originally opened in London in 1925 and was considered amusing but scandalous for its depiction of sex and adultery — both subjects that were seen as obscene and disruptive.
Ticketing in advance is recommended, as ticket prices may increase as seating fills. Tickets range from $35 to $50. The show will run Thursday-Sunday from March 14 through April 7. Student and group tickets are available at a discount.
Photo via NextStop Theatre
As the winter starts to thaw, stands hawking Girl Scout cookies are starting to crop up nationwide. But rather than randomly stumbling on them, a new app can help Restonians with a sweet tooth track their dealers.
Your best bet for cookies today (Monday) will be Troop 524 setting up outside the Giant at 2425 Centreville Road in Herndon from 4-6 p.m.
More options throughout the area start showing up later in the week. On Wednesday and Thursday, Girl Scouts will be selling cookies at:
- Wiehle-Reston East (1862 Wiehle Ave) from 4-6 p.m.
- Lucia’s Italian Ristorante (2531 John Milton Drive) from 4-6 p.m.
- Safeway (11120 South Lakes Drive) from 5-6:30 p.m.
On Friday, there are more than 20 locations within a five-mile radius of the Reston Town Center scheduled to be vending Girl Scout cookies. Keep an eye on the app or the online tracker to find one near you.
Photo via Facebook