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by Fatimah Waseem November 20, 2017 at 10:15 am 1 Comment

The search for a new executive director at the Reston Historic Trust & Museum is on. 

Elizabeth Didiano is leaving her position, as she relocating. Didiano, who began her position in January, said is especially proud that she and the organization’s board of trustees were able to set RHT’s foundation to continue to grow as an organization and reach new audiences through programs and events.

“In 2017, we launched our inaugural Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta, and I feel fortunate to have been a part of such a fun event. I am sure the new Executive Director with the help of the RHT’s Board of Directors and volunteers, will explore many wonderful opportunities to share Reston’s history with our community and beyond,” she said.

RHT is a non profit organization that was founded in 1997 to preserve the past, inform the present and influence the future of Reston. The executive director is responsible for managing daily operations of the museum, including donations to museum archives, oversight of the bookkeeper, fundraising, and recruitment and training of volunteers. The head also participates in community events, including the annual home tour in October. 

Ideal candidates will have a Master’s degree or equivalent experience in urban planning, museum studies, history, architecture or another related field. Strong organizational skills are required and fluency in the use of social media and other emerging technologies is preferred. The complete job description is on RHT’s website.

To apply, candidates should send a cover letter, resume, and salary requirements to Shelley Mastran. The salary is negotiable.

by Fatimah Waseem November 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm 3 Comments

The Reston Historic Trust & Museum will host a discussion on present-day challenges in preserving pieces of the past. The program, led by John Burns, chief appeals officer for the National Park Service, will examine several significant local structures including Lake Anne Village Center, the demolished American Press Institute building and a building in Herndon under threat.

The event will take place on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the JoAnn Rose Gallery at Reston Community Center. The presentation will include an explanation about the National Register of Historic Places, the government’s official list of sites worthy of preservation.

Burns will discuss current issues in preserving the former API building, which was demolished last year to make way for a townhouse development project in Reston. The building was designed by 20th Century architect Marcel Breuer. The demolition effort drew vocal opposition from preservation activists and residents.

The program will also include a discussion on the Center for Innovative Technology campus, a 26-acre sprawl of land in Herndon that is being pitched for Amazon’s HQ2. Loudoun and Fairfax counties are pushing to propose the site.

Burns makes decisions about appeals of projects denied certification for federal rehabilitation tax incentives. He has also worked as the assistant director of heritage preservation assistance programs for the NPS. He currently serves as chairman of the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board.

The event is free, but seating is limited.  To make a reservation, call 703-709-7700 or email [email protected]

by Dave Emke September 20, 2017 at 10:15 am 3 Comments

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.

by Dave Emke February 24, 2017 at 10:15 am 4 Comments

Reston Community Center recently bid a fond farewell to a woman who has been documenting its history for more than three decades.

Staff photographer Linda Rutledge, who had been with RCC since 1981, retired from the position last week. Leila Gordon, RCC’s executive director, said the impact Rutledge has had on the organization over the years has been practically immeasurable.

“We have a massive and fabulous photo archive from RCC’s very earliest years,” Gordon said. “We’ve been very close, and her history with RCC is very much intertwined with the history of this agency, this institution itself.”

Reston Community Center opened in 1979.

Linda Rutledge/Reston Community CenterGordon said Rutledge has not only a keen eye for photography, but a “tremendous degree of institutional memory” that made her an extremely valuable employee.

“We will be very hard-pressed to replace, and we’ll just have to grow again, Linda’s tremendous knowledge of Reston,” Gordon said. “You didn’t have to give her instructions or a shoot list, or say ‘Be sure that you get so-and-so.’ She just knew, she just absolutely knew where the people she needed to shoot were.”

Rutledge’s ability to capture a moment in a photo, showing the emotion of a situation, was another quality Gordon praised.

“[She could] focus on a spontaneous humanity of a setting, not taking pictures at an event that are just people standing and smiling for the camera,” the executive director said. “Her photographs are beautiful because they show people doing things and engrossed in those things that were part of their RCC experience.”

Gordon said she fully expects that Rutledge will not be able to completely separate herself and her camera from Reston Community Center.

“She loves the Multicultural Festival, and she loves our [Dr. Martin Luther] King celebration events, so there are some things like that I imagine she’ll still want to contribute photographs to,” Gordon said. “There are some things that Linda says she just wouldn’t feel she is alive if she missed.”

Photos courtesy Reston Community Center/Linda Rutledge

by Dave Emke February 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm 4 Comments

Cathy Hudgins headshotEditor’s Note: February is Black History Month. Reston Now recently asked Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who has lived in Reston since 1969, to share her memories of arriving in the community after her family had difficulty finding acceptance in other places.

“[My two sons] went to school here, but schools were different. They were Virginia schools and we really did have to do some work as parents, as well as as a community. This community was very overt in saying to the Fairfax County school system, ‘Equity is not here.’ We saw overt discrimination and we had to speak up.”

“Lake Anne Elementary was the first school built here, and a group of families… realized that the history of Virginia that [schools were] teaching kids was not the history of real Virginia, and we don’t want our kids to learn just one side. This is not just African-American families, all families were saying that. ‘This isn’t the history.’ And so they went out and said, ‘We’ll help you create a curriculum, because this isn’t what we want.’ Those kinds of things took place often.”

“Coming here, we found it very welcoming. We found people who were looking for the same thing that we were looking for, and that was to be able to bring our children and raise them here. [The children] got the opportunity to not only live with people like them, but with people of all different environments. That was the richness of what I think this has done for us as a family. It has been, I think, what makes Reston one of the really great places to live.”

Do you have a personal story about Black History in Reston you would like to share? Please contact [email protected].

by Dave Emke February 8, 2017 at 2:45 pm 13 Comments

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.

by Jennifer van der Kleut November 1, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

RestonAtoZ Cover/Courtesy PhotoTwo longtime Reston residents have released a new book aimed at teaching local kids all about the area.

Reston A to Z,” a book by author Watt Hamlett and illustrator Jill Olinger Vinson, hits select stores today.

The book takes young readers on a tour of the community and teaches them the story of how it came to be, led by none other than its famous founder — who takes the form of an animal named Robert E. Squirrel.

“[Bob Squirrel] is a delightful character who perhaps bears more than a passing resemblance to Reston’s beloved founder, Robert E. Simon,” Hamlett and Vinson said.

The story is told in rhyming verse, and takes children through the alphabet from A to Z, with each stop featuring a different corner of the Reston community. The book includes colorful, illustrated drawings of the places, activities and nature that make Reston what it is.

Stops along the tour include Lake Anne Plaza, Reston Town Center, Reston Regional Library, the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, Walker Nature Center, the Reston Farmers Market, the W&OD Trail and more.

“The book also highlights features of Reston such as its lakes, pedestrian paths, swimming pools, community garden plots and parks,” say Hamlett and Vinson.

They add, the book also features other creative touches like a hidden acorn on each page, a coloring page, and a travel log where kids can check off the places or things in the book they have experienced around Reston.

All in all, the book is an homage to the town Hamlett and Vinson have grown to love as residents for so many years.

Hamlett, the book’s author and photographer, has lived in Reston since 2000.  He says he was inspired to write this book out of his love for Reston that grew from exploring it over many years with his wife and two sons. RestonAtoZ Hamlett, Vinson, Bob Squirrel/Courtesy Photo

“I hope the book serves as a tribute to Reston’s beauty, community spirit and the vision of Reston’s founder, Robert E. Simon,” Hamlett said.

Jill Olinger Vinson, the book’s illustrator, grew up in Reston and is a graduate of South Lakes High School. She returned as an adult to live in Reston with her husband, and her two sons were born in Reston. She now lives in neighboring Herndon.

“Reston A to Z is available for sale locally at several locations, including the Reston Museum at Lake Anne Plaza. For all copies purchased at the Museum, 100 percent of the profits will go directly to the Reston Historic Trust. The Museum is also selling stuffed Bob Squirrel plushes.

Hamlett and Vinson will be signing copies of the book at the Reston Museum on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon.

The book is also available for purchase online from Mascot Books, and at other Reston retailers including Scrawl Books and Dawn Price Baby, as well as online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. The book retails for $15.95.

Photos courtesy of Watt Hamlett and Jill Olinger Vinson

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by Karen Goff February 20, 2015 at 9:30 am 2 Comments

A former slave cemetery is believed to be located on the grounds of the Fairfax Hunt Club in Reston

Many residents of Hunt Club Cluster have written to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning to remember the possible slave cemetery in Reston when making the final changes to Reston’s Master Plan.

Here is what may be hiding in the woods, according to Hunt Club resident Heather Greenfield, a PR executive and former reporter who has been researching the site, calls Lake Fairfax Unnamed Cemetery #FX242.

“The more we learn about this historic cemetery, the more we see what a fascinating piece of history this is for Fairfax County and pre-history for Reston, and the principles it was founded on,” Greenfield wrote to the DPZ. “This cemetery involves a prominent Fairfax family, the issue of slavery, and how the family matriarch, Mildred Johnson, created a cemetery for those she lived with through treacherous Civil War politics.”

Greenfield and other Hunt Club residents have requested that the wording regarding the Hunt Club property be written with more specifics as to what will happen when/if graves are discovered. The cluster says that when the graves are discovered, the cemetery should be preserved with a 500-foot buffer around it.

The cemetery is believed to be about 200 yards north of the log clubhouse.

The deadline to submit comments to the county was last week, and the DPZ heard from nearly a dozen residents of the housing subdivision near Lake Fairfax Park. Phase 2 of the Master Plan looks at new language for neighborhoods and village centers as Reston goes through its next 50 years. (more…)

by Jennifer van der Kleut January 22, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,125 3 Comments

It’s not hard to find a Reston family with ties to Lake Anne Nursery Kindergarten. LANK, as the school is called, has been around nearly as long as Reston itself, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary in a big way in 2015.

And if you have ties to the school, they want you to be a part of it.

“We’re trying to contact all of our alumni – which is a lot!” said LANK co-director Patty Marsh.

Adds co-director Marilyn O’Neill: “Yes, we’d love to know where they all are, what they’re doing, how they’re doing,”

One testament to how beloved LANK is, is how many generations of families have attended over the last 50 years.

“Reston seems to be a place kids return to, to raise their own families,” O’Neill said.

LANK was the first preschool in Reston. Founded in 1965, Reston’s founder, Robert E. Simon, gifted the land to the school expressly for the purpose. LANK first opened at Lake Anne Village Center and quickly became a cornerstone of the budding community.

In 1972, the school moved to its current location on North Shore Drive near Wiehle Avenue. (more…)

by Karen Goff January 2, 2014 at 9:00 am 0

Sen. Harry F. Byrd strolling through Reston with Robet Simon and Jane Wilhelm/Credit: Reston Historic TrustFifty years ago, the first residents moved into Reston’s new homes. A then-50-year-old Robert E. Simon, who envisioned a “New Town” in the cow pastures near what is now Dulles International Airport, was taking a risk that people would want to live in the undeveloped western part of Fairfax County, with no highway, no grocery store and hardly any other people.

Simon likes to joke he only had to appease 3,000 residents when Reston was founded.

“And that was easy, because they were all cows,” he says.

In 2014, Reston  — now home to close to 60,000 residents  — is now a significant residential and business hub for the Washington, DC, metro area. Reston is the second-largest office market in Fairfax County with almost 19.7 million square feet of space, according to the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.

And, with Metrorail’s Silver Line set to open in 2014, more residential and business development is on the way. Long-range major developments planned for Reston:

  • The Spectrum (Mixed-use; 774,879 square feet of office, retail and hotel space)
  • Reston Heights (Mixed-use; 145,000 square feet of above-grade retail, 100,000 square feet of below grade space, 428,225 square feet of office 498 units residential units in the area around the Sheraton Reston and Westin Reston Heights hotels)
  • A pair of 10-story, 280,000-square-foot office buildings on Sunset Hills at Reston Parkway near the future Reston Parkway Metro station
  • A 23-story, 418,000-square-foot office tower at 1760 Reston Parkway
  • The surface parking lot at Reston Town Center to be redeveloped as a high-rise office building (276,788 square feet of space, a maximum height of 17 stories, with 7,800 square feet of retail/restaurant uses on the ground floor)
  • Mixed use buildings at Reston Station at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro stop, including residential, office, hotel and retail
  • Redevelopment of Fairway Apartments, Crescent Apartments, Lake Anne Fellowship House and the Lake Anne area.

But before those exponential expansions will happen, Reston will have a series of events commemorating the big anniversary/birthday in 2014.

Already planned are:
Sunday, March 16, 4 p.m., Reston Community Center Hunters Woods
Reston Community Orchestra’s “Innovation: A Tribute to Robert E. Simon on his 100th Birthday”
Featuring music by Creston, Magnard and Bartok with renowned marimba player and RCO musician Rebecca Kite.

Sunday, March 23, 4 p.m., South Lakes High School
Reston Chorale presents “Reston’s 50th – A Celebration of the Vision and the Visionary,” a world premiere of All Beautiful and Splendid Things – a choral and orchestra work by composer Donald McCullough  commemorating Robert E. Simon’s 100th
birthday and the 50th anniversary of Reston.

Saturday, April 5, noon, Lake Anne Plaza
Founders Day celebrating Robert E. Simon’s 100th birthday and Reston’s 50th Anniversary. Program will feature tributes, music and cake.

Saturday, April 5, 8 p.m. Reston Community Center
Reston’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.  Enjoy the special screening of “The Reston Story” movie  and the winners of My Community Video Contest. The evening will conclude with champagne and dessert with a toast to Robert E. Simon and each other.

Photo of Robert E. Simon, Sen. Harry Bird and Jane Wilhelm strolling in early Reston courtesy of Reston Historic Trust

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