A couple of weeks ago I posted about our effort to try and save the Old Metro Transit Police building, which sits between the Huntington Metro station and Mount Eagle Park.
I learned earlier this week that demolition of this structure will be taking place later this month.
Obviously I’m disappointed, but there is some good news out of this.
Prior to taking the building down, a company known as Details will deconstruct some of the interior. Reading their website, it looks like a great program. The company is based in Baltimore, and works with agencies such as Civic Works Corps and Habitat for Humanity.
Also, a spokesperson for Teague and Stout, the developer of this northern part of Huntington Metro, was receptive to my idea for the erection of historical markers for Mount Eagle, the Civil War forts that were located nearby and possibly this building.
As far as the history of this building, we’ve had some folks checking the county deeds. Figuring out the parceling of this land is like trying to read Latin.
I did conduct an interview with Lee Fifer, who was born and raised at Mount Eagle. He recalled that Bob Varnick, a plumber, built the place as his home. Varnick must have been highly respected. He was elected as Vice President of the Arlington City Master Plumbers Association.
Lee had a gleam in his eye remembering playing with Varnick's son Marvin.
Another thing I found out was that in 2005, the WMATA Board of Directors approved the naming of this building after Officer Harry Davis Jr. He was the first Metro Transit Police Officer killed in the line of duty. Officer Harry Davis was shot and killed while investigating a stolen vehicle parked at a Metro facility near the Landover station on December 20, 1993.
When they left this building, MTPD District II moved into a new location and named it after Davis.
In the world of preservation, you lick your wounds when you have to and plan for the next fight. It’s just a guess for now, but I believe one of the next battlegrounds in our area (Penn Daw, Groveton) will be over the Chamber of Commerce building, which sits at the southeast corner (6821) of Richmond Highway and Memorial Avenue.
This attractive Colonial Revival style brick building serves as home to the good folks with the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce. I believe it was built in 1934.
As far as saving this asset, it does not look good. The current proposed plan for this parcel is residential.
If it goes down, there won’t be anything left except the old Penn Daw Fire House (6416 Richmond Highway). This building houses the A&A Equipment Rental Station and was built in 1942. I know it is not an attractive site at this time, but it has some potential and could be adaptively re-used.
As I have said before, we certainly need re-development in our neck of the woods. I like the plans that are moving forward for urban-scale mixed-use redevelopment, and those already here. But in terms of what’s left to save, we are approaching a crisis point in this part of South East Fairfax County.
If you would like to contribute to these preservation efforts, please contact me.
Note: When it comes to the demolition of a building, I’ve noticed that some developers and even city officials use the term "re-purpose."
This is very misleading. Re-purpose means or implies adaptive re-use.
I would ask for some more honesty in this regard.