Reston, VA

While Reston’s annual Founder’s Day celebration will not take place in person, the Reston Historic Trust & Museum is still finding ways to make the community milestone and birthday of Reston’s founder Bob Simon special.

Founder’s Day will take place on Saturday, April 18. The museum, which organizes the annual celebration is asking Restonians to submit videos of up to 30 seconds showcasing how Founder’s Day is being celebrated in their home.

The museum suggests some ways to celebrate at home on its website.

Residents should tag the museum via Twitter or Facebook. Everyone who tags the museum will be entered tow in a personalized commemorative brick to be installed at Lake Anne Plaza next year. A winner will be selected on April 20.

Founder’s day is presented by Reston Historic Trust and Museum with support from Reston Community Center and Public Art Reston. It is hosted by Lake Anne Plaza.

File photo

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Stereotypes of suburban life — with its big homes, picketed fences, and affluent people — thrive in America. But in some “radical suburbs,” people flocked to the urban fringes to chase a different way of life, according to City Lab Editor Amanda Kolson Hurley.

In her new book, “Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City,” Hurley examines six suburban towns that are “fertile ground for utopian planning, communal living, socially-conscious design, and integrated housing.”

Hurley says that Reston is a community that strays from the typical idea of a conventional, middle-class suburb. She discussed her book in a Kojo Nnamdi Show segment on Wednesday (April 24).

Reston is an “anti-suburb” developed by Bob Simon, who was born into a family of real estate developers, Hurley said. After taking a bike trip across Europe — with all of its plazas and community-style living — Simon was inspired to sell off his share of Carnegie Hall to build a new town. Like the founder of Columbia, Md. – Reston’s sister city — Simon was tired of the soul-less and ugly character of other suburbs, Hurley said.

“People thought he was nuts,” Hurley said.

But Reston turned out to be a good bet. Unlike other suburbs at the time, Reston was integrated from the very beginning, giving it a forward-looking vision, she says.

But now, Reston — like other radical suburbs — faces a question of identity.

“The question it faces and that more and more suburbs will face in the coming years is one of identity,” Hurley said, “Should it be a suburb or a city?”

Her book examines other model suburbs like Old Economy, Pa., Piscataway, Nj., Lexington, Ma, and Greenbelt, Md.

Photo via Belt Publishing

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Film on Reston Takes CenterStage Tonight — Dive into the story of how Reston founder Robert Simon envisioned Reston and fought to keep his original principles strong during the film screening of “Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston VA” tonight at 7 p.m. at CenterStage. The event is free and open for all ages. [Reston Community Center]

High Honors for Herndon High School Freshman — The student, Claire, was recognized by the Town of Herndon as the Distinguished Teen Volunteer for 2019. She contributed more than 400 hours of service since 2017. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Reston Students Win Big at Virginia Odyssey of the Mind — Students from six Fairfax County schools, including several competitors from Reston, earned top honors at the state competition over the weekend. The contest encourages students to solve complex problems. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

A Recap of Founder’s Day — Reston Historic Trust & Museum organized the 2019 Founder’s Day Celebration over the weekend with a day-long event to mark the 55th anniversary of Reston’s founding. [The Connection]

File photo

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The Reston Historic Trust & Museum has raised $965 in three weeks with its fundraising campaign to reinstall the iconic, quirky pharmacy icons from the Lakeside Pharmacy.

The GoFundMe campaign launched on Nov. 8, Alexandra Campbell, the executive director of the Reston Historic Trust & Museum, told Reston Now.

The fundraising target of $15,000 will pay for repairs, cleaning and reinstallation of the icons in a new permanent exhibit in the plaza. The new exhibit will be unveiled during the organization’s annual Founder’s day event on April 6.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” Campbell said. “We have some time to get to the $15,000.”

Most of the 22 donations have been small, individual donations — seven people have given $25, while others have donated amounts between $10 to $100.

The icons served as advertisements for the Lakeside Pharmacy, a legacy Lake Anne Plaza store. Designed by Chermayeff and Geismar, a New York-based graphic design firm, the icons were inspired by 1960s pop art and Reston’s founder Bob Simon’s wish for whimsical art at Lake Anne Plaza.

The Lake Anne of Reston Condominium Association donated the icons to the Reston Historic Trust & Museum after they were removed in July to make way for new businesses in the pharmacy’s former location.

“We’re really glad to help preserve and keep them here,” Campbell said about the icons.

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The Reston Historic Trust & Museum has launched an online campaign to raise money to reinstall the lakeside pharmacy icon. Designed by Chermayeff and Geismar, a New York-based graphic design firm, the icons were inspired by 1960s pop art and Reston’s founder Bob Simon’s wish for whimsical art at Lake Anne Plaza.

The icons, which served as advertisements for the Lakeside Pharmacy, were removed in July to make way for new businesses to open up in the pharmacy’s former location.

The fundraising target is $15,000 to repair, clean and reinstall icons in a new permanent exhibit in the plaza. The new exhibit will be unveiled during the organization’s annual Founder’s day event on April 6.

The museum put out the following information about the historical significance of the icons:

The New York graphic design firm of Chermayeff and Geismar (now Chermayeff, Geismar & Haviv), was hired by Whittlesey & Conklin, the architects of the plaza, and together they created the storefronts on the plaza. While the main purpose of the Lakeside Pharmacy icons was advertising, the icons are characteristic of the 1960s Pop Art aesthetic and reflected Reston’s Founder Bob Simon’s wish for whimsical artwork on the plaza.

The building was a pharmacy for 44 years, closing in 2014. Since the building will soon be occupied by new businesses, the icons were donated to the Reston Historic Trust & Museum in order to preserve them. Currently, the icons are in storage until they can be cleaned and reinstalled. The installation is being designed by Jeanne Krohn of Krohn Design.

Photos by Charlotte Geary and Krohn Design

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Water-logged tunnels found in all Metro lines— “While standing water, clogged drains, debris around cables and tunnel leaks were found on all Metro lines, Federal Transit Administration inspectors found the most significant problems on the Red Line, according to three months of newly released inspection reports.” [WTOP]

Newly surfaced interview with Bob Simon — Sam Moyer interviewed Reston founder Bob Simon when Moyer was nine. Now 27, Moyer reflects on the interview. [Fairfax County Times]

No golfing around — Rescue Reston, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving Reston’s open space, provides an update on efforts to protect Hidden Creek Country Club. [Rescue Reston]

Happening nearby: Nine-year-old boy dies in school accident — “FCPD officers say a 9-year-old boy has died after an accident at Franconia Elementary School on May 19. The boy, who was in the School Age Child Care (SACC) program at his school on Beulah Road, was in the gym at about 4:45.  The child, Wesley Lipicky, and a teacher, both simultaneously pressed a button to open a large, motorized room partition that splits in the middle.” [Fairfax County Times]

Photo by Ralph Tartaglione

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The Reston Historic Trust and Museum is hosting the 54th annual anniversary of Reston’s founding.

Founder’s Day is set for Saturday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will include moon bounces, children’s activities and face painting.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Terrasset Elementary School, Langston Hughes Middle School’s jazz ensemble, Aldrin Elementary School, Lake Anne Elementary School and other local groups and schools.

At noon, local elected officials like state Sen. Janet Howell, state Del. Ken Plum, and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova will deliver remarks. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is also scheduled to speak.

Public Art Reston is also hosting a public tour around Lake Anne. The event will also include a book-signing event in the afternoon by local authors  LaVerne Gill, Donna Andrews, and Samantha Mina. Artist Zachary Oxman will also provide commentary the impact of Reston on his art.

Founder’s Day is also supported by Reston Community Center and co-sponsored by Reston Association and Public Art Reston.

A complete program is available online.

Photos via Reston Historic Trust and Museum

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A pair of local historians will tell the tale of Reston’s early days tonight at Lake Anne Plaza.

Kristina Alcorn and Chuck Veatch will present “Meant to Be: How Reston Almost Wasn’t” at 7 p.m. at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery at Reston Community Center (1909A Washington Plaza). The public program is being put on by the Reston Historic Trust and Museum.

According to information provided by the museum, the presentation will “delve into the chain of improbable events and the forks in the road that paved the way for the creation of Reston.”

Veatch was a member of Reston’s original development team, coming to the community in 1964 to work with founder Bob Simon and handle Reston’s first home sales. He is also photographer and publisher of the book “The Nature of Reston.”

Alcorn is the author of “In His Own Words: Stories from the Extraordinary Life of Reston’s Founder.” To write the book, she spent two years interviewing Simon.

The program is free, but seating is limited and reservations are encouraged. For more information or to RSVP, call 703-709-7700 or email [email protected].

Photos provided by Reston Historic Trust and Museum. Top, Chuck Veatch with Bob Simon. Bottom, Kristina Alcorn.

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Lake Anne Village Center, which was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, faced some challenges on its path to becoming the nation’s first zoned planned-unit community.

So did its champions as they worked diligently to have its history nationally recognized.

Shelly Mastran and Cheryl Terio-Simon, longtime residents who are chair and vice chair — respectively — of the Reston Historic Trust and Museum Board of Directors, spent several years compiling the information required to seek the NRHP designation.

Mastran said they began working on the process in 2011, submitting written narratives at the state level to justify the social and historical significance of the Village Center. The state’s Department of Historic Resources then encouraged them to continue their effort to the national level.

But the quest for NRHP recognition was halted for a time, Terio-Simon said, as some worried it may hinder potential growth in the plaza through proposed redevelopment — something she said would not have been affected by the designation. In addition, Mastran said, the women began to feel daunted by the amount of work the process entailed.

“A lot of the process involves data entry, in the state’s database,” she said. “Every single property has to be individually described in the database, in a very particular way.”

There are more than 100 properties within the boundaries of the designated zone. The women ended up hiring an intern to help them do the data entry, while Vern Wingert was tasked with taking photographs of all the properties.

“We gave [the National Park Service] much more than they probably wanted,” said Terio-Simon, widow of Reston founder Bob Simon. “But we thought as long as we were doing the research, we’d put everything in there.”

The boundaries of the nationally designated area also include all of Lake Anne, which was made at the same time as the village center. All residents who live within 300 feet of the lakefront needed to be notified of the nomination.

“If more than 50 percent of the owners within the district protested, it could fail,” Mastran said. “I don’t think any [did].”

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Monday Morning Notes

Silver Line Struggling to Maintain Riders — Phase 1 of Metro’s Silver Line expansion fueled an unprecedented building boom in areas adjacent to its five stations, the Washington Post reports. However, the line has struggled to attract riders in the three years since it opened. Only the Wiehle-Metro East station is even close to projected ridership numbers. [Washington Post]

Remembering Bob Simon — In a piece for an English-language Indian newspaper, Manish Nandy remembers the stories Bob Simon told him during daily walks around Lake Anne. [The Statesman]

‘White Liberals Give Themselves Too Much Credit’ — In an opinion piece for an “intersectional feminist” magazine, a Restonian looks back on the death of Nabra Hassanen, saying that hate lives here and everywhere. [Wear Your Voice]

Work Today at Park & Ride — The access road to the Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride will have daytime lane closures for paving from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. Drivers should watch for flaggers, who will help direct traffic around the lane closures. [Fairfax County]

Teavana Stores Shutting Down — Starbucks announced last week will close all 379 of its Teavana stores, which it says have been underperforming. This will include the store in Reston Town Center (1826 Library St.). [CNN Money]

Get Ready for Terraset — All rising Terraset kindergarteners are invited to the Terraset playground from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in August to meet classmates and play on the new Terraset playground. The August kindergarten play dates are sponsored by Terraset Elementary School and Terraset Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Representatives from the PTO will be on hand Aug. 2 and Aug. 9 to answer parent questions. No RSVP is required. [Terraset Parent Teacher Organization]

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Restonians know how historic Lake Anne Plaza is.

Now, that historic significance has been made official by the National Park Service, as the Lake Anne Village Center Historic District has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Lake Anne Village Center, the first village of the planned community of Reston, was constructed between 1963 and 1967. According to a press release from the Reston Historic Trust and Museum:

[Lake Anne Village Center] is considered to be nationally significant in the areas of both social history and architecture.

As the first village of the planned community of Reston, Virginia, it is part of the nation’s first zoned planned unit community. Additionally, it is socially significant because it articulates its founder’s seven goals, as well as Mr. [Bob] Simon’s insistence on an integrated community in the Commonwealth of Virginia prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Lake Anne Village Center’s influences derive from the English Garden City movement, as well as European plazas and the townhouses of urban areas of the northeastern United States. The complex, designed by the New York architectural firm of Conklin Rossant, features Brutalist-influenced architecture tempered by its human scale and medieval elements. For its era, the complex presented a shockingly modern design in a Northern Virginia dominated by single-family Colonial Revival homes.

Lake Anne Village Center showcased the new town movement, with social, architectural and land-use development innovations — elements internationally recognized today for influencing subsequent planned developments in the U.S. and around the world.

Lake Anne Village Center was named a Fairfax County Historic District in 1983. In March, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources included the Lake Anne Village Center Historic District in the Virginia Landmarks Register.

The American Institute of Certified Planners celebrated Lake Anne Village Center’s status as the nation’s first Planned Unit Community zone in 2002, when it designated Simon a “Planning Pioneer.”

[Simon] introduced urban living to the American suburban countryside at Lake Anne Village Center, created the nation’s first Planned Unit Community zone, and founded a community of international renown dedicated to social openness, citizen participation, and the dignity of the individual.

Elizabeth Didiano, executive director of the Reston Historic Trust and Museum, said the new federal designation will “bring awareness to the property’s significance and encourage property owners to preserve their property through historically sensitive improvements.”

“Property owners within the historic district may also qualify for Federal or Virginia Rehabilitation Tax Credits (RTC) through the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for substantial improvements to the exterior of their buildings,” Didiano said.

She said the federal listing will not provide any further restrictions on property owners to use private funds for development.

Images courtesy Reston Historic Trust and Museum

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Bob Simon Black History Speech/YouTube screengrab

Robert E. Simon founded Reston in 1964 on the principle that it would be inclusive for all. Six years ago this month, during a Black History Month event at the Reston Historic Trust and Museum, a 96-year-old Simon shared some of his thoughts about racial inclusion.

His words, which are available on YouTube, are transcribed below:

“The story is something I read in the New Yorker magazine. In those days, if you wanted to go from one coast to the other, you had to change trains in Chicago. After Chicago, there were no more cars where you could get food. You got off the train and went into Harvey Houses.”

“So, the story tells of this troop train. Black soldiers transporting white prisoners from one place to the other. After Chicago, they stopped at the Harvey Houses – the prisoners were put in the dining room and the soldiers were put in the kitchen. Well, that really blew my mind.”

“And so when I got started here, it was inconceivable that we would not be an open community. [unintelligible] It wasn’t that great an idea to some fellow Virginians at the time. The brokers outside of Reston were prone to say ‘That’s communist.'”

“At any rate, the rest of the history is pretty heart-warming. You have, I think I heard someplace, 100 different languages. I don’t know if that’s possible. But we do have enormous diversity here.”

“At the moment, if you want to pick on ethnic origin, it’s not so much Black. At the moment it’s Latino, which is very interesting, what’s going on in the world, if you think about it — how hate can be transferred.”

Simon died in September 2015 at the age of 101.

H/T Restonian. Screen grab via YouTube.

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Reston Concerned Citizens Group

The morning of Nov. 9, Margot Lebow was beside herself.

“The day after the election [of President-elect Donald Trump], most of us were in the dark in fetal positions,” the longtime Reston resident said.

Lebow and friends Donna Shaffer and Susann Gerstein simply could not believe the direction the nation had turned in. So they made plans to gather at Cafe Montmartre in Lake Anne Plaza for a “hug.”

But Shaffer thought more people might be in need of a place to gather and talk. So she posted the invite on Facebook.

“We had about 45 people who showed up, and many of them we’d never seen before,” Shaffer said.

At that meeting — and a subsequent one that had an even greater turnout — teachers, children, immigrants and more were given a platform to speak and share their concerns about what the future may bring.

“That kicked off a very powerful discussion,” Gerstein said.

So was born a community activism group the women say is designed to show support for those who feel threatened — and to make sure the principles laid out by Reston founder Robert E. Simon are remembered and followed.

“The wonderful thing about this, honestly, is that it isn’t just old-time Restonians putting our arms around each other,” Gerstein said. “It’s the second and third generation in this community who really do understand what the value system was that created this community.”

Simon, who in 1961 purchased 6,750 acres that would become Reston, founded the community on seven principles — among them, that the importance and dignity of each individual be a focal point of community development.

The women who gather at Cafe Montmartre considered themselves longtime friends of Simon. They said they fear a new zeitgeist that normalizes bullying, mistreatment of others and political incorrectness will result in the “importance and dignity of each individual” being forgotten.

“In a personal sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, the morality of this coming administration is truly frightening,” Lebow said. “Everything is contrary to what we believe as a community, to what we believe as individuals.”

The women say their group isn’t rooted in politics, but rather in ensuring a proper sense of community is maintained in Reston. A separate group, Herndon-Reston Indivisible, has been founded to tackle purely political issues.

Lebow said the idea that Restonians look out for their fellow community members — no matter what race, religion or background — cannot be lost.

“That value system must persevere,” Lebow said. “That concept that is Reston needs to be expanded globally, or at least nationally.”

The women say they continue to plan the future of their group and hope to have more information about upcoming meetings soon. Their goals include continuing to support local charitable organizations including Cornerstones in their efforts.

“It’s really just about respecting people who are different than you,” Gerstein said. “In Reston, you really can put your arms around your neighbors and believe that somehow it will be all right.”

Jesse Bonfeld, Lebow’s husband, said the group understands how important it is to make sure everyone’s voices — not just the loudest — are heard.

“What really drove this was the realization that there are now people in power who have given the bully pulpit to a minority in this country whose values are diametrically opposed to what Bob Simon’s values were,” he said. “That is really the bottom line.”

Pictured: From left, Donna Shaffer, Margot Lebow, Susann Gerstein and Jesse Bonfeld meet at Cafe Montmartre in Lake Anne Plaza on Wednesday evening.

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Reston citizens, elected officials and old friends gathered at the Hyatt Regency Reston on Sunday to honor Reston founder Robert E. Simon.

Simon died in September at age 101, and there was no formal funeral or memorial service at that time. Sunday’s program, “In Celebration of the Life of Robert E. Simon Jr.,” served as a way for people to memorialize Simon, who would have turned 102 yesterday.

The gathering — which featured Simon’s favorite drink, a Danish Mary (Bloody Mary with Aquavit) — capped Founders Week activities in Reston.

The formal part of the service featured some of Simon’s favorite showtunes, including selections from Jerome Kern played by a string quartet and a piece commissioned with the Reston Chorale for Simon’s 100th birthday in 2014.

There was also a short film by Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, the director of Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VAThe film, made from some the footage from the longer-form Another Way of Living, captured some of Simon’s signature vigor and wit.

“From the waist up, I feel about 65,” he said on his 99th birthday. “From the waist down, I am about 125.” Read More

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Bob Simon BookA new book about Reston founder Robert E. Simon Jr. will be released next month, just as Reston is celebrating Founders Day.

Simon died in September at age 101. Founders Day has been expanded to Founders Week (April 3-10) this year in order to accommodate the many tributes to Simon.

The author of the book, titled In His Own Words: Stories from the Extraordinary Life of Reston’s Founder, is Reston native Kristina Alcorn.

The book is a compilation of Bob’s life stories that “draw an intimate and entertaining portrait of the man many knew only from a distance,” Alcorn said. Read More

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