By our count, there are some 142 neighborhoods (officially called sub-divisions) in Falls Church City. Some are large and well known (Winter Hill) and a few are so small they literally have only one house. Most do not have documented histories. However a few do and they have fascinating links to the City’s past. Many years ago, the Historical Commission and like-minded residents set a precedent whereby new sub-divisions be named for original residents. That meant using the name of the original house, farm, or family name. The laudable (and successful) goal was simple to preserve the City’s history. It has always been an advisory role, and builders have always been free to pick any name they wanted. There are (we think) no remaining tracts of land large enough that if developed, would merit a sub-division name.
Of course these here only scratch the surface. For example, we don’t know how or why neighborhoods like Broadmont or City Park Homes got their names. If anyone does, let us know. Note: The below information does not include all the history of a given property, just the part where the name was used for a sub-division.
Abbott’s Orchard: Named for Lewis Smith Abbott who lived there from 1825-1898, the Abbott House was a small farm located at 600 Abbott Lane. While not documented, it’s reasonable to surmise the Abbott family had an orchard on the property and that the builder decided to use that when naming the sub-division. The original home (600 Abbott Lane) is still there and is the only property currently in the City. It’s located off West Street going away from Broad Street. There are seven other homes in the sub-division all in Fairfax County.
Church View: This is the row of 16 townhouses on Lounsbury Place adjacent to The Falls Church Episcopal. While not documented, we’ll assume the name needs no explanation.
Isaac Crossman Estate: Isaac Crossman (his name was also used for one our parks), bought the house and a very large tract of land (1864) that included today’s I-66 and O’Connell High School. The original house was at 421 N. Washington Street. However it is not in City tax records so we assume the house is no longer there. There are 22 homes in this sub-division on E. Columbia, East/West Jefferson, N. Washington, and N. Yucatan Street. There are also three homes in Crossman Estates on E. Columbia Street.
DePutron: The DePutron family built their home (508 Lincoln Ave) in 1893. The property had some 210 acres and included the land where Mt. Daniel Elementary now sits. The home is considered one of the most significant historical homes in the City. There are seven houses, a mix of bungalows and Craftsmans, in this sub-division on Great Falls and West Streets.
Forbes: This home at 258 N. Washington Street was built in 1874 by Wells Forbes who had moved from New Hampshire to Falls Church. Mr. Forbes was a member of the City Council for several years. The house is currently in commercial use. Fifteen homes are located on N. Cherry and Fairfax Streets.
Fowlers Addition To Falls Church: Mr. TT Fowler was a Falls Church resident and a member of the Town Council in 1875. Later he lived in the house known as “Copeswood” (208 Patterson Street built in 1900, Falls Church tax records state1910) though the house never did bear his name. A large sub-division, there are 93 homes on Ellison, Fowler, Madison, Parker, Patterson, and S. West Streets.
Hertz Addition to West Falls Church: The original home at 1011 Fowler Street was built in 1890. The third owner (Gustav Hertz) bought the house in 1928 and named it “Woodbrook.” No doubt the builder of the other homes used the Hertz name. The homes in this sub-division are located on Crane, Fowler, and Kennedy Streets.
Lawton Manor: Built in the 1850s by the Judson family, the original home is still here and sits at 203 Lawton Street. A Civil War general (Longstreet) supposedly used the house at one point. It also was the home of two schools for girls in the 1880s and 1890s. Today, the property has the highest tax assessment (residential) in the City ($1.746M). There are some 26 homes in this sub-division, mostly on Lawton Street with a few on E. Broad and N. Washington Streets.
Parmelee: The original house (325 Little Falls Street) was built around 1870 by Augustus Raymond and was named “Evergreens”. Dr. and Mrs. Julius Parmelee bought the home in 1920. The property had a small separate structure that was used as a Summer boarding house for many years during the Parmelee ownership. In 1956, Dr. Parmelee tore down the original home and built the current house at 315 Little Falls (where he lived until his death in 1961). That same year, the developer (Augustus Wedderburn) built the Parmelee sub-division which included the new home. There are 16 homes today, mostly on West Columbia with a few on Little Falls Street.
Rees Place: This sub-division is comprised of primarily townhomes (35) and is located just off of W. Broad Street (opposite the Panera Bread storefront). The Ives/Lee/Rees House was located at 509 W. Broad Street. The Rees family was the third owner of the house. While not definitive, it’s likely the builder of these townhomes used the name of the last “historical” owner of the house when choosing the sub-division name. The original home is still there but has a new address,120 Rees Place.
The Shadows: This is the neighborhood of your truly. The sub-division is on Shadow Walk and has 10 homes of varying styles. Many know it as the street with “Monticello”, the home of Steve Marshall and Carol Sly. The original home was built sometime before 1879 (Fairfax land records don’t say exactly when) and is located at 335 Little Falls Street. In 1920, Mattie Gundry and Willie May Darby bought the home and land ($10,000) and together operated a sanitarium they called Shadow Lawn. There is no record of why they chose that name.
Dr. and Mrs. Lowden bought the property (1953), renamed it “Whitehall,” and kept it as a sanitarium until 1980 when it was forced to close. The house and surrounding land were bought in 1982 by retired Air Force Colonel Larry Pence who lives there today. He developed the now cul-de-sac and pipe stem, intentionally building homes of different styles. Colonel Pence brought back the name Shadow Lawn and it appears on the house today.
Sims Addition To Great Forest: There is no known historical home associated with this name nor any information about the name Great Forest. George Simms was a prominent architect in Falls Church who helped build several properties (commercial and residential). There also was a builder named Raymond Sims whose name matches the sub-division spelling. We can’t tell if these men were related. Perhaps Raymond dropped an “M” from his name. Despite this minor name conundrum, there are fourteen townhouses located on Park and Pennsylvania Avenues.
Winter Hill: This is the development of some 393 condos and townhouses along and behind Broad Street (opposite Mary Riley Styles Library). Originally known as Tyler Gardens, the name was changed to Winter Hill in 1976–the year the condos had a major renovation. The name Winter Hill refers to the mansion and local tavern that were owned by Colonel James Wren (colonial era resident: See Wrens Corner below) and the Birch House (312 E. Broad Street). Now gone, the mansion and tavern once stood east of S. Cherry Street. The developer of Tyler Gardens (Wills & Plank) chose Winter Hill as the new name due to its strong historical ties and perhaps to give a newly renovated community a fresh name. Wills and Plank even tried to use “Cherry Hill” (arguably the most sacred name in the City) as the name for the townhouses, which were built after the condos. Despite strong objections from the Historical Commission, the developer won out and today we all know the neighborhood as Winter Hill. However they must have given up on using Cherry Hill as there is no sub-division in the City with that name.
Woodland: The original house (610 Fulton Ave) is still standing. Most of the homes in this sub-division are on Fulton Ave, N. Lee Street, N. Oak, and N. Park Streets with a few homes on W. Broad and Pennsylvania Ave. The house at 610 was dramatically renovated after being sold on February 29, 2012. While in theory a replica, the house now is vastly different from the original. Here’s a good article (January 28, 2014) on the property courtesy of The Falls Church Times. http://fallschurchtimes.com/index.php?s=woodland+house
Wrens Corner: This neighborhood was named after Colonel James Wren who designed and built The Falls Church Episcopal in 1769. This work replaced the original church building (1733). He also was the architect for Christ Church Alexandria, Pohick Church, Fairfax Chapel, and the Fairfax City Court House. Colonel Wren has to be the most prominent figure of Falls Church history given he was a vestry member with the likes of George Washington (including his father Augustine Washington), George Mason, and George William Fairfax. (Talk about nice company). The most important home in this sub-division is Birch House located at 312 E. Broad Street. It was built circa 1835 and is currently owned by former City Council member and Vice-Mayor Sam Mabry and his wife Sandy. The rest of Wrens Corner is comprised of 15 townhouses all located on Wrens Way.
Did You Know: In addition to sub-divisions, several streets in the City are named for past residents. They include Buxton Road (Charles Buxton who owned Lawton Manor and a house named for himself, i.e., Buxton House) and Gundry Drive (Mattie Gundry, who ran a training school for girls at Lawton Manor and was past owner of The Shadow Lawn (see above for both).
We’re grateful for the help from Ron Anzlone, current head of the Historical Commission, and the staff at the Mary Riley Styles Library. For those interested, the library has copy ofFalls Church: Places and People (H.H. Douglas; copyright 1981). The book is incredibly well researched and has a lot of neat information about historic homes and families from Falls Church. It’s also the main source for the above entries.