Preserved & Developed is a weekly series of articles by Preservation Arlington highlighting local development projects that have involved both development of a site and preservation of historic resources. The projects highlight a wide range of challenges and solutions over many years. At the time they were completed the projects represented a commitment by the developer and the community to embrace the future and preserve the past. Preservation Arlington is awarding each project a gold, silver, or bronze star based on the extent to which the project protected historic resources within its particular constraints.
When it comes to protecting an old house of character that sits on land of greater value, it isn’t always a decision between complete demolition or complete preservation. In some cases, the owner can take a path that involves moving a home within a property.
This allows for the land to be developed in an efficient manner and results in a more substantial foundation for the older home and an increased investment in and commitment to the home once it is in its new position. The properties this week are remarkable in their simplicity — an owner making a commitment to preserve a house of character because it was the right thing to do.
At the corner of Washington Boulevard and North Roosevelt Street sit two remarkable homes which date back to the end of the 19th century. In 1859, the Alexandria, Loudoun, and Hampshire Railroad (later W&OD) extended service to the East Falls Church station, providing access to home sites away from the city that were still readily accessible to Washington, DC. Transit-oriented development continues its pressure on this community more than 100 years later, with access to the Orange Line and soon-to-be-open Silver Line.
In 2002, a local home remodeler purchased the house at 6403 Washington Boulevard for the sole purpose of preserving the property by moving and turning it 90 degrees and then opening up the site for the development of two additional homes.
Once moved, the Barksdale House (1899), named for its first owners, was completely renovated with an addition and then resold to new homeowners. The two adjacent parcels were developed with standard in-fill houses typically seen in Arlington. In turning the house, it was also renumbered as 2002 North Roosevelt Street. Preserving the over 100-year-old Barksdale House while providing two new lots for redevelopment is a good solution.
Built in 1904, the house at 1305 North Nelson Street is a fairly standard home of its time. Sitting proudly on the corner near Washington-Lee High School and near both the Clarendon business district and the W&OD railway, it was always close to everything.
As Metro came to the Virginia Square area in late 1979, the pressure was on for redevelopment. Only three blocks from the Virginia Square Metro and sitting on over 19,000 square feet of R-5 zoned property, it was an ideal redevelopment site. (The R-5 zoning district allows for duplex housing units without a special exception.)
By moving the house off the corner of the property and onto one of the five newly subdivided lots, the owners were able to create the opportunity to build two buildings, each with a pair of duplexes, and preserve and restore the 1904 home. The duplexes were completed in 1980 and pick up many architectural details from 1305 Nelson — including wood framing, shingled gabled roof, and a similar scale. While the corner lot and the actual dimensions of the property may have constrained further subdivision, the outcome was the preservation of an older home and several mature trees.
Today 1305 North Nelson, with a rear addition, sits quietly among homes from several different decades of development.
The house at 1605 N. Quincy Street was built adjacent to the railroad in the Cherrydale community in 1918. The property had been the McHugh family home for years. Upon the death of her husband, Mrs. McHugh chose to redevelop the property with a commitment to preserving their family home for the future.
The house sits on over 38,000 square feet of land in the R-6 district, which could allow for up to six new homes to be built. At that time the County allowed for pipe-stem development and the property was subdivided into a total of five lots — four for new houses and one for the relocated old home.
The McHugh home, which had been close to Quincy Street (before it was realigned during I-66 construction) was picked up and moved to the back of the property. In doing so, that family was able to get value out of their property but preserve the old house, which contained many of its original architectural features.
While Mrs. McHugh did not live in the home after the mid-1970s subdivision of the land (the new homes were completed in 1976), her commitment to the home lasts to this day, as the house lives on — just in a different spot.