“Thank God for graveyards and glaciers.”
For those who believe in preserving the past, the above line could be theirs for Lincolnia. Progress is vital to the living, but it seems re-development took away too much in this neighborhood that lies along Little River Turnpike and west of the Landmark Mall.
Of all the walks I have taken so far, none can match the eclectic nature of the one I took yesterday in and around Lincolnia. On the other hand, this one was also the most difficult in terms of getting a handle on its history and locating the surviving assets and sites.
Lincolnia is a multi-jurisdictional place. On its east side runs the Alexandria city line, cutting its way past Beauregard Street like a buzz saw. The heart of the neighborhood lies in Fairfax County, whose planners divided Lincolnia into three separate planning areas. All this and the lack of street gridding makes this place look like the United Nations partitioned it into a patchwork of nation states.
This part of Northern Virginia, about a half dozen miles from Alexandria’s Potomac shore, doesn’t have the generous amount of historical places as seen closer to Alexandria. Nevertheless, it holds more stories than first meets the eye.
The searcher for historical information on Lincolnia is frustrated until he or she finds a gift from the late Mary Margaret Pence. She gave us, “A History of Lincolnia,” published in “Fairfax County Stories, 1607-2007.” Pence was a life long resident and passed away last September.
On the other hand, a certain amount of frustration remains. The Wiki account points out:
Originally created following the Civil War as a community of freed slaves, Lincolnia remained as one of Fairfax County's original communities of African Americans for over 100 years.
I was not able to find any information on this.
Note: I am only covering the core of Lincolnia and not its other parts. I do have a post from 2014 on Green Spring Gardens.
Brief History of Lincolnia
Let’s start out by showing Beth Mitchell’s Interpretive Map from 1760. On it, we can find the future site of Lincolnia by locating the stream (Turkeycock Run) and the two roads (Little River Turnpike and Lincolnia Road) that run through the area.
These two roads remain the two main thoroughfares, but we must point out that Lincolnia Road’s terminus with Little River Turnpike has changed. Mitchell’s map shows it running on a continuous straight line, whereas today its eastern end part is cut off by the Landmark Mall.
Her map also shows an old school ground and a racing track right where the Mall is located. I was not able to find any information on these two.
Also on Mitchell’s map is John Summers land. In 1740, he obtained the grant from Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax, the English baron who owned the more than 5M acres of land encompassing most of what we know today as Northern Virginia.
In 1750, one year after the founding of Alexandria, Summers built a house on his land. He called it Cottage Farm. It’s worth pointing out that Summers did not own slaves (as indicated by the red color).
In the early 1800s, a small village sprang up where the Little River Turnpike and Lincolnia Road met. A pair of taverns and blacksmith shops served the community, as well as a meeting house and church. In the antebellum years, ads in the Alexandria Gazette refer to this part of the county as “Mount Pierce.” Levi Deming ran the “Cottage Farm Nursery.”
In 1861, a group of Alexandrians including R. R. Fowle met at Mount Pierce and formed the “New Fairfax Calvary Company.” 42 men signed up.
Retreating from the Second Battle of Bull Run/Manassas in the summer of 1862, Union troops passed by the village, which by then had become known as Lebanon.
In 1870, Deming proposed the name Lincoln to honor President Abraham Lincoln. A report in the Alexandria Gazette notes that a new post office had been established at Lincolnia.
Through the years, Lincolnia has been home to farms, churches, schools, blacksmith shops and stores. A 1949 historical aerial shows paving for I-395 had reached the new interchange with Duke/Little River Turnpike, but not beyond it to the east.
The suburban residential areas rose up in the 50s and 60s. The Landmark Mall opened in 1965, kicking off an era of shopping malls in the area. Well past its service life, redevelopment is in the works.
Summers Family Cemetery (6250 Lincolnia Road)
Given a not so accurate address, swallowed by modern development and hidden by trees, the Summers Family Cemetery survives as a historical jewel (between Deming Avenue and Barnum Lane). The Fairfax County website has info on this cemetery. The two stones that stand out are for John Summers and Francis Summers. The latter contains a lovely marker affixed by the NSDAR.
Genealogists have been working hard to suss out the information on John Summers. In 1716, he was a tenant to John West and probably lived at Summer Grove or Cottage Farm. Researchers believe he lived to over the age of 100.
Lebanon Union Cemetery
201 N. Breckindridge
The city of Alexandria is working on finalizing a list of endangered sites. Making the case for this cemetery, a gentleman spoke at the Lyceum last month. I can see exactly why this cemetery should be on the list. It is in desperate need of attention, and could play a critical role in better understanding Lincolnia’s history.
Rynex Nature Area, N. Chambliss Street (Alexandria side)
Although I still don’t know a seep from a bog, I enjoy reading some of the city reports on remnant natural areas in Alexandria. One of them covers the Beauregard Street corridor. The three areas are the Winkler Botanical Preserve, Dora Kelley Nature Park and Rynex Natural Area (10 acres). If you will recall, we have visited the first two.
This one is a strange bird. You can drive up to it, but the visitor is made to feel like an intruder. Better for walkers is the nearby Glen Hills Park and Holmes Run, which at that point is part of the border between city and county.
Lincolnia United Methodist Church
Pence also wrote a primer on the history of this church.
In 1876 a Methodist Church was built on Lincolnia Road on land given by Levi Deming. In 1905 a parsonage was built on Lincolnia road on land given by Eunice Barnum.
After 79 years on Lincolnia road we had outgrown that space and on May 8, 1955, land was purchased at the corner of Route 236 (Little River Turnpike) and Lincoln Avenue.
Opening day services were held in the new Educational building one hundred years after the first Church was built in Lebanon in 1855.
All in all, a good walk. I have to say, however, that this neighborhood has some challenges ahead. Despite the sites that do exist here, I did not see one historical marker. It is our great hope that the new mixed use development at the Landmark Mall location, although not in the neighborhood, will have some interpretive panels that touch on this lost history.
There is also an avenue to be explored in terms of the 1959 integration of schools in Alexandria. Ted Pulliam has given this some attention in his book, “Alexandria: An Illustrated History.” Young members of the Ragland and Turner family walked into history that winter when they entered previously all white schools in Alexandria. One of the families might have lived in Lincolnia.
Living on the edge of Alexandria and Fairfax County seems to be part of the problem for Lincolnia. It is our sincere hope that both the city and county can come together to do what is right for this neighborhood. We, the living, owe it to the patriots, those who worked hard but were not free, the blacksmiths, the store keepers, the Civil Rights trail blazers, the church leaders and others who toiled in harder times to make this a better place to live.
"Now hear this, now hear this."
High tide flooding and the cars that drove through its thin waters created tiny wakes yesterday morning at the intersection of King and Union Streets in Old Town.
The really big show in Alexandria, however, took place a couple of stones throws away at the marina, as a crowd of about 25 on-lookers witnessed a bit of history. Around 9 am, the Display Ship Barry (DS-933) and its small convoy of escort boats slipped past the city.
The aging ship, a destroyer that saw action in Vietnam and the Cold War, left its Washington Navy Yard home of the last 32 years around 7:30 am.
One man standing on the marina dock, an ex-submariner, drove from Springfield. Another rode his bike from Arlington.
Since 1984, the USS Barry had served as a ship museum in southeast D.C. Its fate was sealed by low attendance and deteriorating status. Renovating the 62-year-old ship would have cost more than anyone was prepared to pay. Additionally, the new bridge that will replace the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge will be of the fixed-span type and would have landlocked this ship.
The ship is schedule to arrive in Philadelphia on Monday morning, where it will be dismantled and scrapped.
San Francisco is naming a cable car named after him.
Also, bio.com has a great article on Mays, which includes his game saving "Catch" in the eighth inning of Game One of the 1954 World Series, a screaming line drive off the bat of Vic Wertz to the deepest part of center field at the Polo Grounds (Willie always like his throw better..).
As the story goes, Don Little, upon returning to the dugout after facing Wertz, quipped, "Well, I got my man...”
Well, we got our man, number 24 on his Giants uniform and number one in our hearts.
Happy Birthday Willie!
Many were the soldiers in the long and hard struggle for Civil Rights in the 50s and 60s. Some we remember, some we don’t.
One warrior who has slipped through the cracks of time is Armistead Boothe. A native son of Alexandria, he led efforts to integrate the segregated schools in Virginia. Let’s take a brief look at his story.
One of the best sources of info on Boothe is an essay by J. Douglas Smith. “When Reason Collides with Prejudice: Armistead Lloyd Boothe and the Politics of Moderation” is one of several excellent essays in “The Moderates' Dilemma: Massive Resistance to School Desegregation in Virginia” by Matthew D. Lassiter.
Also helpful was an article by Megan Rosenfeld (“He Was Right Too Soon,” The Washington Post, July 30, 1978) as well as other reports in The Washington Post and Washington Evening Star. A guiding light is Encyclopedia Virginia.
I would like to thank two individuals whose offices are located at 711 Princess Street. Boothe was born and raised there and would be pleased to see the loving care the home-turned-office-space receives. Johan van Zyl, Director of International Projects with Classical Movements showed me the property and introduced me to Rob Whittle. Whittle recounted his interactions with Boothe, describing him as a true Southern gentleman. Whittle purchased 711 Princess Street from Boothe in 1984.
Armistead Boothe (1907-1990) was an Alexandrian through and through. Born, raised and buried in the city, he attended Christ Church and graduated from Episcopal High School in Alexandria. Known affectionately as “Army,” Boothe was born in and grew up at the family home at 711 Princess Street, a brick home that stands out with five windows wide. Its birthday of more than 200 years is something rare west of Washington Street.
The Boothe family name reaches back to the heady days of the seaport. Boothe’s father, Gardner Lloyd Boothe, was also a native son of Alexandria. For over 50 years, he was active in the highest ranks of the Democratic Party (Note: In those days the Democratic Party was conservative).
Boothe joined his father’s law firm ("Boothe, Dudley, Koontz, and Boothe") in 1931. Three years later, while studying as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, Boothe met and married Elizabeth Ravenel Peele, a fellow ex-pat visiting England from Washington, D.C.
In 1935, Boothe became a member of the Alexandria Democratic Committee and three years later served as city attorney. From 1939-1945, he served his country during World War II as a naval air combat intelligence officer.
Boothe might have followed in his father’s conservative footsteps, but his exposure to African Americans during the war enlightened him. Returning home, he was elected in 1947 to the Virginia house (Democrat), the start of a distinguished career that was often at odds with the arch-conservative “Byrd Machine.” Led by Senator Harry F. Byrdd Sr. (1887–1966), “The Organization” as it was called, ruled Virginia politics from the 1930s to the 1960s. These “Dixiecrats,” which drew strength from the rural counties in the Commonwealth, fought tooth and nail to prevent the integration of the state’s public schools.
Boothe knew what he was up against. Lining up with other younger legislatures who had returned from the war (dubbed “The Young Turks), he would have to try and work within the conservative Democratic party.
In 1949, Boothe wrote “Civil Rights in Virginia,” published in the Virginia Law Review. In it, he called for the establishment of a Virginia Civil Rights Commission to “study economic, educational and other conditions and to recommend correction of abuses” (Virginia Law Review, Volume 35, accessed through JSTOR).
“The subject of Civil Rights must be faced openly and squarely by the people of Virginia,” Booth wrote.
He concluded by saying:
“Our legislature might consider the desirability, from a practical as well as from a constitutional standpoint, of repealing the state segregation laws affecting all forms of transportation.”
In 1950, Boothe sponsored a bill to end segregation on common carriers and establish a study on race relations. Blocked by the Bryd machine, the bill did not pass.
Boothe lost these early battles, but he was earning respect and laying groundwork. Benjamin Muse, author of "Virginia’s Massive Resistance," described him as a “clear voice of liberalism within the ranks of the conservative Byrd organization.” Black church leaders and the NAACP also praised him.
Such attention, however, was a doubled-edged sword. Playing to the fears of their constituents, his conservative opponents would use such praise against him. In certain parts of the state, prejudicial attitudes towards African Americans were still very strong.
In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. Their decision outlawed segregation in the schools. More than that, it set the groundwork for ending the so-called “Separate, But Equal” way of life for blacks in the South.
The Byrd Machine was very powerful, however, and the walls they had built would not come down easy. Citing states rights, Byrd spearheaded an effort that became known as “Massive Resistance” to the court-ordered desegregation.
Byrd also authored the “Southern Manifesto” that outlined their strategy. Virginia Governor Thomas B. Stanley instituted legislation to close any schools facing federal desegregation orders. Newly elected governor J. Lindsay Almond picked up the mantle and closed schools in Charlottesville, Norfolk and Front Royal.
Elected to the Virginia Senate and representing Alexandria once again, Booth played a role in fighting these policies. He chaired the “Virginia Society for Preservation of Public Education.” Booth won re-election in 1959, against fellow Alexandrian Marshall Beverly, a strong moral victory for the moderates and progressives.
Boothe, however, paid a heavy price for his continued work against Jim Crow. The Ku Klux Klan shadowed him. Despite his calls for “gradual, partial and localized integration,” he was labeled “a dangerous extremist.” Smith points out “the sad part was that friends began to shy away as if he had the plaque.”
The Virginia court’s decisions finally ended the Massive Resistance movement. Throughout the 60s, the schools in the state were slowly integrated. In 1961, Boothe ran for Lieutenant Governor against Mills E. Godwin, Jr. Boothe had support in northern Virginia, but the Byrd-backed Godwin won the seat.
In 1966, Boothe returned to the political arena and ran for the U.S. Senate. His opponent was Harry F. Byrd, Jr. whose father, the legend in Virginia politics, had retired. Boothe lost in a close race - 221,221 to 212, 996.
Retiring for good from politics and his law practice, Boothe gave his time and talents to the Virginia Theological Seminary. He served six years at the school on the hill overlooking Alexandria, helping to raise funds and assisting the school dean. His home and office was on Vicar Lane, just south of T.C. Williams High School.
In 1987, Carlyle Murphy (The Washington Post, February 21, 1987) interviewed Boothe and his wife Bettie for an article on the Seminary Hill area. Boothe said he and 14 others bought the Chapel Hill portion in 1940. When the city asked for street names they gave them Vicar and Bishop.
In 1990, Boothe passed away at a retirement home in Falls Church. He was laid to rest in the small, hillside cemetery at VTS, alongside other notable Alexandrians such as Julia Johns, who founded the Alexandria Infirmary.
In addition to his obituary, The Washington Post published two loving rememberances.
One said –
He was all that – but above all, the chronicles must show for the generations of Virginians to come what formidable contributor Armistead Boothe was to racial reconciliation in his state in the 20th century.
Earl C. Dudley wrote an article titled, "The Man for the Moment: Army Boothe gave Virginians, black and white, the courage to stand together against forces of racial division."
Yet it is to Boothe more than any other human being that Virginians of today owe the progressive strain in our government that helped elect L. Douglas Wilder governor last fall.
Booth himself had written and spoken many words in a life’s work. His last as an elected official came as his parting words on the senate floor in Richmond.
You are content with what Virginia has done. We look forward to what she can do. You feel she is a way of life which must be preserved as nearly intact as possible. We feel Virginia is a living society who must change and grow in leadership in a living world. The intellectual and moral wealth of Virginia is desperately needed by our Nation in determining, guiding, directing – not just accepting – the course of history.
In September 2001, the City of Alexandria dedicated a new, 5-acre park in recognition of Boothe. Its location beside Samuel W. Tucker School holds a special meaning.
As their press release noted,
The park’s location as well as its namesake are significant in Alexandria and Virginia’s history. Samuel E. Tucker and “Army” Boothe both worked hard for desegregation and now have public places named for them at adjacent locations.
I walked the park this past weekend and did not see a historical marker. I have also not seen one for Boothe elsewhere.
West End North, West End South.
I’m not sure if anyone thinks of Alexandria’s West End this way, but if you look at a satellite view of this portion of the city, it sure does seem to be divided this way.
North of Duke Street lie the leafy hills and attractive neighborhoods on Seminary Hill and elsewhere. South of the busy aerial the color shifts from green to gray. Some of the buildings and homes look like Monopoly hotels.
Does this mean living in this portion is less desireable than its counterpart?
We’ll leave that to others. Today we tell you about a morning walk through Cameron Station, perhaps the brightest spot in the Cameron Valley. Tucked away in the southwest corner of the city, this 164-acre site holds 2,000 residential homes. In the 1990s, Alexandria turned the former Army supply depot into a new neighborhood with parks on each end, and a linear park along Cameron Run. The homes evoke the Colonial sense of Old Town's architecture. Quiet streets, folks walking their dog, and the first rate landscaping give the area a Pleasantville feel.
The Washington Post beat us to the punch on this one, touching on life in Cameron Station in their “Where We Live” series this weekend (Although more people have told me they don't read that series than do).
So we’ll post a few photos and leave it at that. I am working on a write up on Armistead Boothe. The park on the western border of Cameron Station is named after him.
A linear park runs along the entire south side of the neighborhood.
The Armistead Boothe Park resulted from the land to park program.
This home on Somerville Street is doing some serious channeling of the Carlyle House.
Some more photos from the demolition site at 1199 S. Washington Street, where Potomac-based Foulger-Pratt will build The Thornton, a 439-unit residential unit on the bank of Great Hunting Creek, and forming a new gateway to the city from the GW Parkway approach.
This view has not been seen since before the 1940s when these garden-style units were constructed.
This was a non-contributing set of buildings, but I wonder if the famous Aqua quarry stone was used, as well as any of the bricks from the old brick plant once located here.
Also, now that I think about it, I think this tip of land, and Jones Point Park is the only such land south of the Beltway that belongs to Alexandria and not Fairfax County.
By Jaded Roberts
Special from The Garlic Times
Business and government leaders in Washington, Alexandria and the region’s surrounding counties have approved a new initiative they’re calling - “The DMV. One Great Place.”
Set to roll out this summer, the campaign is designed to increase tourism in the region.
Wyona Petty, who is spearheading the initiative, sat down for a short interview.
What’s the purpose of this initiative?
Through a concept called “regional cooperation marketing,” this initiative is designed to increase the number of visitors to the greater Washington region.
Regional cooperation marketing. Explain that.
Regional cooperation marketing is an underutilized approach and philosophy to promote tourism. Instead of competing against each other, jurisdictions promote and advertise for both themselves and adjacent locales.
Can you give an example?
I’ll use the example of National Harbor, which sits just across the river from Alexandria and shares a border with the District. Already a mini-city, National Harbor is about to take off to the next level with the opening of the MGM Casino this fall. Some interest groups in Alexandria and D.C. see this as competition. As a knee-jerk reaction, National Harbor, a neighbor just across the river, becomes the enemy so to speak.
Competition is good, but tourism is not a zero sum game. Visitors who come here will often visit D.C, Virginia and Maryland all in the same trip.
How did this get started?
Business leaders in the DMV have seen time and time again that not working together can have deleterious effects. This is especially true in terms of metro, roads, and transportation.
What’s wrong with the old way?
The old way pits jurisdictions against each other. Some even engage in maligning tactics to score points. That may seem like a good business practice, but ultimately it is not.
Will this new approach really work?
We certainly hope so. Obviously not everyone is going to adopt it, but there’s no question that entities can increase productivity if everyone works together.
There’s also a fascinating psychological component at work, a variation of the “Halo Effect.” For example, studies have shown that if we see someone as attractive and likeable, we also see them as intelligent and funny.
So, if a potential visitor, for example, sees northern Virginia as an appealing place to visit, they will also likely want to visit D.C. and Maryland. The idea is to get them here by accenting a variety of places and attractions. If they planned to stay two days, we hope they stay three or more.
There has already been some cooperative efforts in this arena, including a recent one between Alexandria and National Harbor. What makes this one different?
Remember several years ago when Alexandria came up with the slogan - “Alexandria - The Fun Side of the Potomac?”
However gentle a prod that was, it was still a dig at Maryland and D.C. and contributed to the “us versus them” mentality that we sometimes see in our area.
Our goal is to create a new mind set, one that fosters togetherness now and in the future.
In fact, we’re working on a new catchy phrase – “The Potomac - There’s Plenty of Fun on Both Sides…”
When Roberta and I first arrived here in Alexandria in 1995, I remember dropping her off at FSI in Arlington. Whether you are an F-S1 or a GM-33, you know this place as the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute. The world is a better place thanks to the alumni of these training courses.
I had forgotten all about this campus until I was planning out my next morning walk. Alcova Heights popped up on my radar last week when I was flipping through an index. This fin-shaped neighborhood is situated between four main arteries - Columbia Pike and Arlington Boulevard and S. George Mason Drive and S. Glebe Road. FSI, gated and fenced for security reasons, forms the northwest portion.
That devil time is the enemy here so we are hitting the highlights of an enjoyable walk. We salute the late Eleanor Lee Templeman, an esteemed Northern Virginia historian in her time and author of a handful of books including "Vignettes of Arlington." Her one page summary of Alcova is essential reading.
The crown jewel of this neighborhood is the telescope-shaped home at the end of Lincoln Avenue. Templeman points out it is not known how much of the current dwelling is part of the original farmhouse nor when it was built. Evidence points to 1836.
The 20th-century history of this neighborhood begins in earnest around 1920. Senator Joseph Lloyd Byars of Bristol, Virginia subdivided 140 acres of his farm here. A lane that led from the home to Columbia Pike is now Lincoln Avenue.
The residential area was named Alcova Heights – a contraction of Alexandria County, Virginia. Arlington County came about as in 1920, a separation from Alexandria so to speak.
Large historic homes often attracted famous people who moved in and sometimes added on to the dwelling. In the 1950s, a well-known couple took up residence here. Douglass Wallop III, a Washingtonian who is probably watching the Nationals from a heavenly seat, wrote a series of books that included "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant". Most of us know the story as the musical, Damn Yankees.
Lucille Fletcher, a novelist and screenwriter, married Wallop in 1949. They had met at the Hamilton Hotel in Ocean City and spent their final years on the quiet Eastern Shore in Oxford. One account says they lived in Alexandria in 1949. Fletcher’s most acclaimed work was the radio play, Sorry, Wrong Number.
I experienced a couple of disappointments on my walk.
The first and biggest was not being able to see or photograph Arlington Hall, which lies in the middle of the FSI/Guard campus.
The HABS report points out the significance:
Timber Creek Park
Some litter strewn on the east side of George Mason Drive marred my enjoyment of this park, but overall, it is very pleasing and gives natural beauty to its western border.
An Arlington marker sits on the northeast corner of Glebe and Columbia Pike (Is it just me or is the wording of it confusing?)
This intersection has perked up in recent years with redevelopment.
All in all a good walk. Not too thrilled with the fences around FSI, but I'm taking the diplomatic approach on that one...
The United States Government consists of three branches. A de facto fourth, however – the free press - is also essential in our democracy.
Today we are reminded of the critical role the press plays.
This afternoon at 3 pm EST, Columbia University will announce the winners of the Pulitzer Prize, which includes the Public Service award.
These past 100 years, newspapers and reporters have been honored for their reporting. Among those they have exposed are the Ku Klux Klan, sexual predators, polluters, and a long list of corrupt officials.
The papers in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Boston have certainly won their fair share of awards, but the committee has also given the Public Service award to small papers such as the Lufkin (Texas) News.
The award usually goes to the newspaper itself. A few times the reporter(s) was included in the citation. One glaring omission was the pair of rookies at the Post, Woodward and Bernstein, who few believed in the beginning.
Heaven knows the media makes mistakes, but overall, they do a very good job. Today we should not only applaud the cream of the crop, but also thank all those on the beat trying to get the story that will not get a lot of ink.