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December 2, 1998
Fairlington Historic District
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March 29, 1999
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Posted November 20, 2012
About Fairlington - A Short History

"A nationally significant example of community planning
and publicly financed housing built for defense workers and their families
during World War II."

Early History

Upon the arrival of Europeans in the New World, the area that is now Fairlington was near a Necostin Indian village in the 17th century. In the early 18th century, a 534-acre (216-ha) tract including Fairlington and extending to nearby Four Mile Run was granted under the headright system to William Struttfield, one of 48 original landowners in what is now Arlington County.

John Carlyle By John Hesselius.
Courtesy Wikipedia

By 1756, the land was owned by John Carlyle, a friend of future US President George Washington, who was also the builder of Carlyle House in Alexandria. Carlyle and his heirs would possess the area of Fairlington for 150 years.

Around 1770, Caryle began construction of a plantation house near the current intersection of 30th Street South and South Columbus Street.

The house was first called Torthorwald and later changed to Morven and stood until 1942.[1] Carlyle used his plantation as a stud farm and operated a grist mill downstream from Fairlington above what is now Arlandria.

George Washington himself owned a portion of the land in what would become Fairlington, near the Abingdon Elementary School and South 28th Street after he bought two of the 48 Arlington land grants.

Following the American Revolution, new federal district governed by Congress was created in 1790 and the area that is now Fairlington (except for part of the section now within Alexandria) was included within the original boundaries of the new District of Columbia, forming part of Alexandria County, D.C. Congressional control began in 1801 and the area was no longer under Virginian jurisdiction.[2] However, in 1846, entire county was retroceded to Virginia and became Alexandria County, VA.

From Union occupation to World War II

With the secession of Virginia from the United States on 17 April 1861, Northern Virginia was quickly overrun by Union soldiers. A line of redoubts and breastworks above Four Mile Run was constructed to defend of the main base of the occupying Army of the Potomac in Alexandria and the Fairlington area was the site of two of these.

Fort Reynolds, a redoubt, was constructed in September 1861 to command the approach to Alexandria by way of the Four Mile Run valley. It had a perimeter of 360 yards (329 m) and emplacements for 12 guns and was located just northeast of what is now 31st Street South at South Woodrow Street.

Battery Garesche at what is now Abingdon Street at South 30th Road and was constructed late in 1861 to control the higher ground dominating Fort Reynolds, 200 yards (183 m) to the southeast. It had a perimeter of 166 yards (152 m) and emplacements for 8 guns. The area was never liberated by Confederate forces and remained under US military occupation until 1870.

Despite the military use of what is now Fairlington, the area retained a rural character; mostly wooded, with some small farms, into the 20th century. In 1879, the area of Fairlington was consolidated under Hawkins Smith who remodeled Morven and renamed it Hampton. His son, Hawkins Smith II, made Hampton a leading horse farm but sold it in 1926. It was subdivided with some of the land rented by sharecroppers. One cleared area in South Fairlington served as an airfield until the mid-1930s.

Historical Marker
Click for Larger Image
Courtesy Wikipedia

1988 Satellite Image of Fairlington
Click for Larger Image

Despite the military use of what is now Fairlington, the area retained a rural character; mostly wooded, with some small farms, into the 20th century.

In 1879, the area of Fairlington was consolidated under Hawkins Smith who remodeled Morven and renamed it Hampton. His son, Hawkins Smith II, made Hampton a leading horse farm but sold it in 1926.

It was subdivided with some of the land rented by sharecroppers. One cleared area in South Fairlington served as an airfield until the mid-1930s.

In 1920, Alexandria County was renamed Arlington County to distinguish it from the neighboring independent City of Alexandria and in 1929, Alexandria annexed all of Arlington County south of Four Mile Run to the current boundary along Quaker Lane.

Roosevelt Responds to Housing Shortage

Portrait of Architect Kenneth Franzheim

Fairlington is a unique and historically significant community conveniently located just five minutes from downtown Washington, DC.

The community was constructed for defense workers and their families by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the DC housing shortage brought on by World War II.

Photo of Architect Alan B. Mills, Jr.

The above photograph (left) of Architect Kenneth Franzheim is part of the Vera Prasilova Scott portraiture collection. Scott was a studio photographer and the wife of a Rice faculty member. She took portraits of many prominent Houstonians in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The citation for this use of the image is "Kenneth Franzheim portrait. 1930".

The above photograph (right) shows Brigadier Victor Wilson, corps officer of the Salvation Army, accepting the keys to the new building from L.M. Rice, Jr., contractor, and Alan B. Mills, Jr., architect (far right), at the dedication service for the Washington (Sherman Avenue), DC Corps building, 1966.

On the eve of America’s entry into World War 11, President Roosevelt called in Houston architect Kenneth Franzheim (See Portrait Above) to design housing for the wartime executives who would soon be working in and around Washington.

Franzheim, joined by architect Alan B. Mills (See photograph above), was given his pick of skilled workers, and he had first crack at scarce building materials.

He also had the money to do a first-rate job. Average cost per unit came to $10,300.

Fairlington Homes, 1943.
Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., Photographer.
Courtesy National Archives

Rental Project Created

On a 340-acre site in Arlington, Franzheim and Mills created a rental project that, at 10 units per acre, avoided most of the sins of wartime emergency housing. Instead of designing a grid, he clustered units in varied patterns.

Fairlington Homes, 1943.
Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., Photographer.
Courtesy National Archives

Predominant is a square U cluster enclosing a courtyard, there are also long rows of units with varied roof lines and entrance ways, alternating with short rows often set at angles to the longer rows. Between the clusters are expanses of lawn and scattered trees.

With 3,439 apartments, it was by far the largest project financed by Defense Homes Corporation (DHC), a component of the National Housing Agency, and the largest apartment complex in the nation at that time.

In 1947 the government sold the project to two Texas businessmen, Leo Corrigan and Leland Fikes. Under their management Fairlington became the first stopping place for many newly appointed or elected government officials.

In 1959 Corrigan and Fikes decided to dissolve their partnership. They drew up a contract stating that one partner would get the stock controlling the project – worth more than $15 million -- and the other would get all cash in the till -- about $4 million. A coin flip would decide which partner got which.

Hodges Named General Manager

Fikes won the toss and the stock, and named one of his executives, Walter J. Hodges, to be the general manager.

Hodges continued the policy of fostering community spirit among the tenants by providing money for activities such as baseball and football teams, arts and crafts shows, holiday parades, an amateur theatrical group and a newspaper.

Fikes died in 1966, and two years later his estate sold Fairlington to Hartford Fire Insurance Company. Hodges and another former Fikes executive, J.D. Lee, became minority stockholders.

Fairlington Homes, 1943.
Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., Photographer.
Courtesy National Archives

Condominium Conversion

In 1972, Hartford sold the two projects for about $59 million to Chicago Bridge and Iron Corporation, an international builder of heavy engineering structures. Hodges and Lee became minority stockholders and officers of a new entity, CBI-Fairmac Corporation. Hodges, its president, and Lee, the executive vice president, and treasurer, began work to convert Fairlington into seven condominium villages. Walter Hodges died in 1978, just as the rehabilitation of Fairlington was completed.

Today, Fairlington reflects the charm of times gone by. Brick colonial style, slate roofs, and tree-lined streets are a testament to the expert planning and design of renowned architects Kenneth Franzheim and Alan B. Mills, while the unique sense of commmunity is affirmation of the love Fairlington's inhabitants feel for its past and their commitment to its future.

Fairlington remains a very well preserved example of the Colonial Revival style in Northern Virginia and in the Washington Metropolitan area.

Fairlington Becomes An Historic District

Click on Photo for Large Image

On December 2, 1998, Fairlington was listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and on March 29, 1999, in the National Register of Historic Places. These honors were the culmination of an effort begun in 1989 by Fairlington resident Lorraine Drolet.

Ms. Drolet, working alone, secured the support of the Fairlington Villages Board of Directors and researched the requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Historic Resources (DHR) for historic recognition.

Working with others, Ms. Drolet completed the first step of the process, assembling and submitting the written and photographic documentary evidence required for the DHR to evaluate Fairlington's eligibility to apply for designation as a historic district.

When eligibility was granted in July 1997, Ms. Drolet formed and co-chaired the Fairlington Historic Designation Committee (FHDC) and appealed to the Fairlington community and its friends for support in completing the process.

Response was outstanding. The seven condominium associations, the Fairlington Citizens' Association, local businesses, and individuals donated time and funding to the historic designation effort. During two days in January and May 1998, volunteers conducted exterior surveys of Fairlington's 1024 residential and non-residential buildings, and photographed the 62 residential building types and other contributing buildings and spaces in North and South Fairlington.

The resulting data were codified and entered into the DHR's database software - an exacting and labor-intensive process. The narrative nomination document (which can be viewed at the Fairlington website at was written by historic preservation expert, Gail Baker, who acted as consultant to the FHDC throughout the process.

Commonwealth of Virginia officials characterized the Fairlington historic designation project as "unprecedented" both for its magnitude and volunteer involvement. This was the first large scale condominium and townhouse community to be considered for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the first prodigious undertaking of its kind to be carried out almost exclusively by volunteers.

Historical Marker - Click for Larger Image

Historic Designation Celebration

On October 30, 1999 a ceremony was held at the North Fairlington Community Center to unveil the combined historic markers of the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places and to honor the many volunteers and donors involved in the historic designation process. Close to 200 people, included local and state officials, attended the celebration.

The names of all those whose generosity and dedication contributed to the effort are listed in a commemorative program. Particular recognition is due the leaders of the individual FHDC teams, the organizational archivist, and the coordinators of the standing display in the South Fairlington Community Center: Alan Barnett, Sandra Hodapp, Ruth Kerns, James Mailler, Jeanne Muller, Ronald Patterson, and Harold Reem.

With the successful achievement of historic designation, the FHDC was dissolved and its co-chairs retired. A new organization, the Fairlington Historical Society, was formed shortly after to promote continued interest in preserving Fairlington's historic legacy.

Our Heritage

Fairlington was designed by renowned architects
Kenneth Franzheim and Alan B. Mills and represents the best of residential construction.
The Commonwealth of Virginia added Fairlington to the Virginia Landmarks Register on
December 2, 1998
and the Federal Government selected Fairlington for the National Register for Historic Places on
March 29, 1999.

Resources for learning more about Fairlington, past and present:

(NOTE: Some of the above text from "Fairlington, Virginia." (2007, March 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:58, April 10, 2007, from,_Virginia#_note-0)

  • "A Brief History" from the Fairlington Villages Resident's Handbook
  • Fairlington Historical Marker, located at the corner of Quaker Lane and South 32nd Street, Fairlington, VA, 1998 The Fairlington Historic District website
  • Catherine D. Fellows. Fairlington at 50: May 1943-May 1993 – The 60th Anniversary Edition. Arlington, VA: The Fairlington Historical Society, 2003
  • "Military-use structures" at Arlington Historical Society webpage
  • Nomination to the National Register of Historic Places - Fairlington Historic District (.pdf file) - assembled by Gail H. Baker
  • Linda Wheeler. "Fairlington: At 50, a Mature ‘Little Town’." Washington Post. 29 May 1993

In Memory of
Catherine D. Fellows
August 1, 1931 - April 26, 2010
Fairlington Resident, Historian, Author, Beloved Friend and Neighbor

Catherine Fellows (center) at Fairlington's 60th Anniversary Celebration on November 1, 2003 - Photo by Guy Land)
Catherine Fellows died at her home on Monday, April 26, 2010.
A memorial service was held at
3:00 PM, Sunday, May 16th at Demaine Funeral Home

5308 Backlick Road, Springfield, VA 22151 | 703-941-9428
(Updated May 16, 2010)
Fairlington Condominium Association Web Sites