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Reston Then and Now: The Old Farmhouse at Hunter Mill Crossroads

Normally, Reston Then and Now covers places that only exist as forests and fields in the earliest aerial photography in Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer. But this week, the intersection of Hunter Mill and Hunter Station roads has a history that predates that aerial photography.

During the Civil War, the intersection was a major crossroads for Union and Confederate troops moving through the area. According to a historical marker at the site, Confederate Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton’s cavalry brigade passed through the site in 1862 en route to Antietam in Maryland. Several Union and Confederate generals are recorded to have passed the site throughout the war.

The intersection was a critical junction of the railroad, a north-south road, water resources from Difficult Run and farmlands to provide food for troops. Several skirmishes took place in the nearby area, including the killing of Rev. John Read from Falls Church. Read was an abolitionist and supplied information on Confederate activities to the Union. He was kidnapped in a raid and executed in the forest just southeast of the crossroads by Confederate guerillas lead by Col. John S. Mosby.

The area around Hunter Mill road was its own town at one time, called Hunter’s Village, which sprung up around the route of the Washington and Old Dominion rail line. The locality contained a post office, a general store, a train station and a military hospital. The station itself was a bare-bones facility — a flag stop where passengers could step out to flag down a train.

The farmhouse at the site may have been built in 1935, and by 1937 it shows up in the first aerial photography of Fairfax.

Until recently, a little house at the intersection of Hunter Mill and Hunter Station roads stood mostly isolated — all that was left of the old Hunter’s Village — with some other properties dotting the surrounding area. Passenger service on the line ended in 1951. Freight service ended in 1968 and the railroad was abandoned.

By then, new subdivisions and a new power station started to encroach onto the site. The farmhouse was squeezed between growth spreading out from Reston to the west and Tysons to the East.

The farmhouse on the site was demolished late last year to make way for a new residential development. The site remains a popular stop on the bike and pedestrian Washington and Old Dominion Trail.

For more Reston Then and Now stories, check out our recent coverage of:

Photo via Google Maps

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With New Leadership, Reston Historic Trust & Museum Puts Art Preservation in the Spotlight

The Reston Historic Trust and Museum has new leadership and is pushing into 2019 with an ambitious effort to save local art.

Carolyn Flitcroft, elected chair of the board for the organization in late January, said the Trust and Museum is hitting the ground running with a campaign to preserve the quirky pop-art iconography from the Lakeside Pharmacy.

“The main thing is we’re working on a fundraising effort for the [Lakeside Pharmacy Icons Exhibit],” said Flitcroft.

Flitcroft said that discussion of that preservation will start at a meeting on Thursday, after which Flitcroft said the group plans to begin discussions with the Fairfax County Board of Architectural Review.

With only $1,185 funded of the $15,000 goal on project’s GoFundMe, there’s still a long way to go to fund the icons’ cleaning, repairs and reinstallation.

After that, Flitcroft said the organization plans to work on an exhibit looking at the effects of Title 9 on women playing sports in Reston.

The museum, at 1639 Washington Plaza, is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and admission is free. A current exhibit shows the history of Reston in the Civil Rights era.

But Flitcroft said the Reston Historic Trust and Museum also faces challenges with visibility.

“It’s a small organization,” Flitcroft said. “It’s hard to compete with a lot of non-profits that deal with very physical things, like hunger and homelessness. So it can be a challenge to compete for donations. There’s people in Reston that don’t know about Lake Anne, much less the museum.”

Over the last few years, Flitcroft said the museum’s director Alexandra Campbell has been pushing to give the museum more of a social media presence. Part of that effort has been making the public more aware of programs focusing on more recent issues, like the arrival of the Metro.

“A lot of our programs are about what’s happening now,” said Flitcroft. “Not all historical. We try to keep the community involved with what’s going on. It’s not only about things of the past.”

Flitcroft has been on the board for five years and has experience working in other local non-profits, like Giving Circle of Hope.

“I’m excited,” said Flitcroft “There’s a lot of energy and we’re gaining more visibility in the community. I’m very excited.”

Photo via Charlotte Geary, headshot courtesy Carolyn Flitcroft

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Hudgins Calls for More Streetlights in Rapidly Urbanizing Reston

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins says there’s a clear need around Reston for new streetlights.

Hudgins believes residents are currently dissuaded from taking pedestrian paths through Reston because the sidewalks are poorly lit, she said during a discussion about new lighting across Fairfax County in an Environmental Committee Meeting today (Tuesday).

“There are dark skies in parts of Reston, but now there is a greater demand for light,” said Hudgins. “Now, people are walking [around Reston] and there are no lights.”

The topic of streetlights in Reston emerged from a discussion of Fairfax County’s arrangement with Dominion Energy to begin replacing existing lights with LEDs. Fairfax County will be responsible for the costs to convert functioning streetlights, though any that are damaged or fail prematurely will be converted to LED at no cost to the county.

“If the poles get hit by trucks, that’s on Dominion,” said Kambiz Agazi, environmental and energy coordinator for Fairfax County. “I’m not suggesting we go out and hit these poles, but if a snow plow hits the poles, Dominion will cover the cost of replacing them.”

While Agazi said the county would reduce $1.4 million in annual costs if all of Fairfax’s 58,000 streetlights were replaced with LEDs, some of that savings would be offset by the cost of adding new streetlights throughout Reston. Hudgins said more research needs to be done on how many lights would be needed and what advantages it would bring to the community.

Streetlights are not a new topic of discussion in Reston. In 2017, the Reston Association’s Environmental Advisory Committee expressed concerns that increased lighting could have an adverse effect on wildlife.

Agazi said staff will begin working on a report on the possibility of adding streetlights to Reston.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Alice in Funkyland Opening This Weekend at Herndon High School

It’s probably not what Lewis Carroll had in mind when he penned the original story 150 years ago, but the Herndon High School Theatre (700 Bennett Street) is hosting an original adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” that moves the setting to the 1970s.

“Alice in Funkyland” opens this Saturday (Feb. 16) with performances on Sunday (Feb. 17) and the following weekend (Feb. 23 and 24) at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The program is produced for children, with two 30-minute acts and a 15-minute intermission.

A special “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” event will also be held on Feb. 16 and 17 at noon.

Tickets to the show are $5 and can be bought at the door or online.

The next production for the school theater will be “The Sound of Music” in April.

Photo via Facebook

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Reston Then and Now: Reston Hospital Center

The Reston Hospital Center (RHC) is halfway through its $72 million expansion, but while the expansion is large, it’s hardly the first for the hospital.

Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer has shots of the hospital since its creation and helps put together a view of how the hospital has changed over the years.

The RHC, located near the Reston Town Center, first opened its doors on Nov. 10, 1986. Some parking lots and building extensions were added over time.

The first major expansion began in 2001 when the west wing of the facility, a five-story facility with 60 additional beds and other treatment facilities. The Parkway Medical Tower, which ouses the ambulatory/outpatient surgery center and a parking garage, was also added.

Between 2012 and 2015, the RHC also invested $40 million expansions and new services, which included substantial interior renovations. In 2012 work began on the $25 million Pavilion II Medical Office Building which provided more administrative space.

The new upgrades include a 403-space parking garage scheduled to be completed this summer, as well as:

  • New 18-bed Inpatient Rehabilitation Center
  • Expanded 24-bed Intensive Care Unit
  • Addition of a second lab to the cardiac services unit
  • Renovations to visitor areas including a new cafeteria, a glass concourse, and main entrance and lobby
  • New parking garage for patients and visitors on the West Wing entrance
  • Addition of eight rooms to accommodate high-risk obstetric patients

If you enjoyed this piece, check out our Then and Now coverage of:

If there are any places in Reston you would like to see covered as a Then and Now feature, let us know in the comments.

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Food Truck Vending Zone May Soon Arrive in Herndon Area

Updated at 11:35 a.m. on Feb. 5 — Corrects description of food truck proposal. 

After some success in Tysons, Fairfax County’s “mobile food vending zone” program could soon be expanding to the Herndon area.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a proposed change to the Fairfax County Code that would allow two new locations for food truck vending at its meeting next Tuesday (Feb. 5).

The Herndon location is on Dulles Technology Drive near the Sunrise Valley Drive just south of the Dulles Toll Road. Another vending zone would be located in the Mount Vernon area.

Food trucks in the vending zones are required to meet the county’s permitting requirements. There is also a special agreement required to set up in the vending zones, which will be marked by signs. The cost to install new signs at both locations is estimated at $400.

Each vendor can only set up for a maximum of four hours any given day at any given location.

According to the agreement, food vending operations are prohibited from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and before 9 a.m. on Sundays or federal holidays. The vendors are also responsible for making sure the areas around their truck are free of trash.

File photo

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Glory Days in North Point Hosts South Lakes HS Fundraiser Today

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If you’re looking for a post-work drink or bite to eat, stopping by Glory Days at North Point Village Center could also help out the local high school.

Today from 5-9 p.m., the sports bar and restaurant will be raising money for the South Lakes High School class of 2021, which is already fundraising for graduation events.

A manager at Glory Days said the restaurant regularly hosts “dining for dollars” events to support local organizations. All meals at the restaurant are eligible for the donation.

“Once you eat, you put your receipt at an envelope at the front,” the manager said. “We will donate 10 percent of the bill.”

Photo via North Point Village Center

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Reston Then and Now: Woodland Park

Woodland Park Crossing in Herndon may be facing some current turnover, but change is certainly nothing new for the area.

Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer shows aerial photography of the county dating back to 1937, and photography over the Woodland Park area shows the very familiar story of the area’s residential, then commercial, expansion over the last thirty years.

Even through the 1980s, there was very little new development in the Woodland Park area. Most of the area, aside from one residential development to the west, remained open fields. But by the 1990s, new residential development near the Stratton Woods Park began to grow further west.

By the early 2000s, residential developments had begun to completely fill the area south of Sunrise Valley Drive, accelerated by the growth of the McNair Farms community to the southwest. Throughout the 2000s, the new residential development spurred the creation of new retail and industrial spaces north of Sunrise Valley Drive.

And more changes are still ahead for the Woodland Park area, with the Herndon Silver Line Metro station under construction just to the northeast of the site, spurring new planned mixed-use development for an area that thirty years ago was mostly open fields.

For more Reston Then and Now stories, check out our coverage of:

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New Book Examines Bizarre Stories from Herndon’s Past

Herndon is well known as a sleepy farming community with growing development working its way west from Reston, but a new book takes aim at some of the bizarre stories from the town’s history.

“Hidden History of Herndon,” part of the Hidden History series from publisher The History Press, is scheduled to be released on March 11 in paperback.

The book’s author, Barbara Glakas, is the historian of the Herndon Historical Society. Glakas is a native of Fairfax County and a retired teacher from Fairfax County Public Schools.

The book includes tales from the town’s naming by a mysterious stranger to local unrest in the 1920s. According to the Amazon description:

A mysterious stranger who passed through the village one night suggested the name Herndon, after the captain of a sunken ship. The Civil War split loyalties among the townspeople and brought an unexpected Confederate raid on the town. Prohibition brought bootleggers with it, but its repeal caused an uproar from temperance-minded residents. Lively community fairs were ever present in the 1920s, but so was the Ku Klux Klan. Local author Barbara Glakas uses rare photographs and firsthand accounts to tell little-known stories of the people, places and events that shaped the history of the Town of Herndon.

Other nearby Hidden History books include “Hidden History of Northern Virginia,” “Hidden History of Arlington County” and “Hidden History of Alexandria.”

The book was mentioned by the Herndon Town Council in a Jan. 15 session during a recognition of the town’s 140th anniversary.

Photo via The History Press

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New Guide Profiles the Public Art of Reston Town Center

Updated at 5:30 p.m. — Clarifies the project as part of a series of guides and includes Phoebe Avery.

Locals may find Reston Town Center to be a difficult place to park a car or open a business, but it’s apparently a popular spot to view public art.

Charlotte Geary, a local photographer, worked on commission by Public Art Reston to photograph every public art piece for an upcoming guide.

“Finding the artwork was half the fun,” Geary said on her website. “It was like a scavenger hunt around town. Of course I knew the most prominent sculptures, like Mercury Fountain, but some of the other artwork was unfamiliar to me and thrilling to discover.”

Geary provided a glimpse behind the photographs on her blog, like her use of a fisheye lens to capture the curve of the buildings.

Phoebe Avery, who is also contracted for the project, is writing the text. Both Geary and Avery contributed to Public Art Retson’s first “Public Art Tour Series” guide, which highlighted public artworks at Lake Anne Village Center.

The second guide of the series is slated for a release sometime in 2019, Anne Delaney, the executive director of Public Art Reston, told Reston. “The purpose of the series is to create greater awareness about Reston’s public art collection — the community’s cultural assets — available to all at all time and free of charge,” she said in an email. 

While some of the artwork is prominent, others are more obscure, like troll sculptures hidden under a bridge and half-concealed in undergrowth.

Photo via Charlotte Geary

This story has been updated

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Reston Then and Now: South Lakes

This week on Then and Now, we’re going back to our roots as seeing how Reston’s iconic lakes have changed over the years. 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 review of how the area around Lake Thoreau and Lake Audubon has evolved since the lake’s creation.

Like Lake Anne, there was no “South Lakes” in photography from 1960. Reston as a planned community was founded in 1964. Before that, much of what is the South Lakes were forests with a few cut-through roads. Interestingly, where Lake Audubon would be built later there was a large pond.

Lake Thoreau and Lake Audubon were built as reservoirs collecting the runoff created by the rapid urbanization nearby. Lake Thoreau was built in 1970 and Lake Audubon was built in 1971, though from the aerial photography there wasn’t much of a “lake” about Audubon until the late 1980s.

One of the earliest large scale developments in the area was the South Lakes High School, which opened in 1978 on 600 acres of land with an “open classroom” design.

The school was not broken into individual classrooms, a plan teachers and students discovered early on was ineffective and distracting. They wound up building temporary barriers until more permanent ones built in 2006 killed the open classroom idea for good.

Langston Hughes Middle School was originally an intermediate school for South Lakes High School, but in 1980 it was officially renamed the Langston Hughes Intermediate School, then Langston Hughes Middle School in the early 1990s.

By 1980, new residential developments had sprung up along the northern and southern edges of Lake Thoreau.

In 1984, the South Lakes Shopping Center opened, marking the last major shift in the area, though the design of that area could be undergoing some visible changes.

Between 1990 and 2017, most of the changes to the area involved the filling in of residential developments in the vicinity of the lake. In 2006, South Lakes High School also expanded and the aforementioned open-space classroom model was eliminated.

If you enjoyed this piece, check out our Then and Now coverage of:

If there are any places in Reston you would like to see covered as a Then and Now feature, let us know in the comments.

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VDOT Moves to Crack Down on Thomas Avenue Cut-Through Traffic

Thomas Avenue’s days as a conduit for cut-through traffic trying to get to Route 7 might be numbered.

At a meeting next Wednesday (Jan. 16) at Dranesville Elementary School, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will host a meeting about plans to limit cut-through traffic at the congested street north of Herndon.

Currently, the narrow residential street is clogged with traffic during rush hour trying to get around congestion on Algonkian Parkway to Route 7.

At the meeting, VDOT will present potential solutions and gather feedback from locals. Proposals include restricting right turns during weekday peak morning traffic.

The meeting will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with the presentation beginning at 7 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, a meeting will be held the following Tuesday.

The public comment period will run until Jan. 28.

Photo via Google Maps

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Reston Then and Now: Elden Street in Herndon

This week on Reston Then and Now we take our first foray into Herndon, moving a little west of the Reston Town Center. Fairfax County’s aerial photography shows how the shopping venues on Elden Street west of the Fairfax County Parkway have evolved over the years.

Herndon is a historic town, but the shopping centers along Elden Street are a relatively recent addition that followed the rise of Reston to the east.

The first of the shopping centers to spring up along Elden Street was Herndon Pines Shopping Center, which was established in 1959 but recently has faced continuing vacancies.

Further east, the the Herndon Centre was anchored by a Kmart built in 1976. The building was demolished in 2017 and is expected to be replaced by a Sprouts Farmers Market.

New development continued to spring up along the southern side of Elden Street from the 1990s onward, including the addition of the Safeway, SunTrust, and various shops in Herndon Marketplace.

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School CIP Leaves New High School and Additions Unfunded

The Fairfax County Public School’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), scheduled for review later this month, still leaves a planned nearby high school unfunded as local crowding increases.

The new high school is planned for somewhere along the Dulles Suburban Corridor to take students coming up through McNair, Coates and Hutchison elementary schools.

The high school’s location has not been selected yet, and school officials at prior meetings said they are relying on proffers from developers and negotiations with applicants to see if land for a new high school can be provided.

While South Lakes High School sits at 92 percent capacity, the surrounding Herndon, Madison and Oakton high schools all exceed 100 percent capacity. The CIP’s school capacity chart for the 2018-2019 school year shows Oakton High School at 131 percent capacity. The school year 2023-24 projections show South Lakes High School’s capacity increasing from 92 percent to 97 percent.

The CIP also notes that capacity enhancement additions will be needed at Madison High School to accommodate for the forecasted capacity needs, though those additions remain unfunded.

The high school planned for the western party of the county to relieve schools around Oakton and Herndon is not the only new school lacking funds. A new elementary school along the Metro’s Silver Line also remains unfunded.

As plans move along for greater levels of residential density in Reston, local residents expressed concerns at meetings last year that FCPS is waiting until new development starts to overcrowd the schools before taking action to address capacity. School officials stated that the new developments are not anticipated to bring in high numbers of new students.

A public hearing for the CIP will be held next Tuesday (Jan. 8) before a final decision, which is scheduled for Jan. 24.

Photo via FCPS

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Here’s Where to Celebrate New Year’s Around Reston

From 5Ks to champagne toasts, there are plenty of events around Reston on New Year’s Eve if you’re still scrambling to put together plans for this Monday.

Monday (New Year’s Eve)

Kalypso’s New Year’s Eve Party
Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza N)
Time: 4 p.m.-2 a.m.

Kalypso’s is hosting a cover-free New Year’s party with free party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Four-course meals are available at the restaurant for $39.95, with advance reservation suggested.

New Year’s Eve at Jimmy’s
Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern (697 Spring St)
Time: 5 p.m.-2 a.m.

The New Year’s celebration at Jimmy’s features a five-course meal for $39 for early seating or $49 for those who want to stay all night. DJ and dancing start at 10 p.m.

Field Shaman’s New Year’s Eve Bash
Red’s Table (11150 S Lakes Dr)
Time: 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

Red’s Table will host a New Year’s celebration will feature a selection of classic and indie rock with the bands Field Shaman Trio and Good for Sunday.

New Year’s Eve Party
PassionFish (11960 Democracy Dr)
Time: 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

The lounge area of PassionFish will be transformed into a party spot with an open bar, a variety of seafood and a DJ. Tickets for all-night partiers are $125 or $50 for those who just want to stay for dinner.

Tuesday (New Year’s Day)

New Year’s Day Pajama Brunch
Mon Ami Gabi (11950 Democracy Drive)
Time: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

For the early risers, this New Year’s Day brunch will feature French cuisine classics like Crème Brûlée French Toast and Classic Quiche Lorraine.

PR Series: New Year’s Day 5k
Reston Town Center (11900 Market St)
Time: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

If you’re looking to start 2019 a little healthier, a 5k around the Reston Town Center will be held on Tuesday morning with music and food available after the race. Tickets are $35 until Dec. 31.

Photo courtesy PR Running

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