December 2, 1998
Fairlington Historic District
March 29, 1999
Living in Fairlington
Current and Former Fairlington Residents
Submit Your Own Memories to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos Courtesy of Mary Judkins
My Dad was a Air Traffic Controller at National Airport and we moved to Fairlington in the summer of 1963.
I will never forget running around the common area behind our apartment at 3265 South Stafford St and playing on the playground with the other kids.
My sister and I went to Fairlington Elementary School and I remember the Halloween parades on the playground. They would let the kids go home for lunch and come back wearing your costume. In 1967 I made the Fairlington baseball team where we played at Utah field and went sledding there in the winter.
We moved in the summer of 1968 to Springfield Va but I will always remember the fun living in Fairlington.
Contributed by Robert W Gwynn
Gordon Avery and Penny Glass are long term Fairlington residents. Penny started in the A-2 unit, with her three sons, thirty years ago, and this is where they experienced their whole growing up and primary schooling. Gordon came along in 1986, and they bought the B-2 unit upstairs in order to have more space.
Gordon was a neonatologist who, after 5 years in the Navy Medical Corps, served 35 years at the Children's Hospital National Medical Center, where he was successively Chief of Neonatology, Chair of Pediatrics at GW Medical School, Chief of Medicine, and Director of the Children's Research Institute.
Gordon retired in 1998, and devotes himself to chamber music (cello), church work (Senior Warden at St Albans Church in DC) and continues to teach medical students as Professor Emeritus.
Penny is a developmental psychologist who specializes in children with handicaps from birth to three years of age. She runs the Child Development Center at Children's, and helps evaluate developmental progress of at-risk children, advising on interventions which will allow them to achieve their maximum potential. She is Associate Professor of Pediatrics, and teaches many interns, residents, and postdoctoral fellows.
Penny is an advocate for proper stimulus environments for pre-school children, and has been on radio and TV numerous times advocating her views. She speaks several languages: English, baby, loon, bird, and plant. Penny loves gardening, and serves on the Landscaping Committee of the Mews.
Penny and Gordon can think of no place they would rather be than right here in Fairlington. It does remarkably well as a village in the city. This is where they plan to be indefinitely.
They send warm greetings to all their neighbors.
Contributed by Gordon Avery and Penny Glass
But most of their time at home, you'll find them entertaining friends or developing their gardening skills in their back patio.
Matt and Kelley met at Syracuse University while obtaining their Master of Public Administration degrees from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Their mutual desire to work in public service brought them to the metropolitan area after graduation.
Matt is Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' emergency preparedness office, while Kelley serves as the Deputy Director of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless.
Kelley's commute is quite long, but they like Fairlington so much that they don't plan to move. Kelley says, "Many of our friends comment on how much they like the neighborhood and we really feel at home here." Matt says that "this is a great first home for us and we feel very fortunate to be part of this unique community."
Contributed by Kelley O'Dell and Matt Payne
Back in the mid-1970's my single women friends were starting to invest in properties of their own rather than continue the renting we all had been doing since college. My cousin Sharon was one of those people, and she bought a Clarendon here in Fairlington after carefully researching the area. Once I saw her place, I knew that I did not need to look any further.
In May 1977, I settled on one of the last units available for purchase in South Fairlington. It is still home for me and became so for my husband, John, in 1992. One of our next door neighbors, Lori Olivas, also moved to Court 5 in May of 1977. Together we have watched the neighborhood mature and improve.
Of course we all wanted to make improvements immediately. Among the items to come first were pull down stairs to the attic, screens, storm doors and storm windows, and landscaping the back patio. Not being a gardener, I hired someone to develop a plan and make the plantings. Little did I realize that the "three little trees" included in my plantings would one day be as tall as the house and require removal. Not everything grew up as nicely as so many of the wonderful trees and shrubs which now adorn the village and provide a barrier to many of the sights and sounds of King Street.
As time has passed, one of the great pleasures of living in Fairlington is taking a Sunday afternoon walk. Getting good exercise in a safe environment is just one of the benefits. Where else could one find all the decorating ideas one needs simply by stopping at a few open houses along the way. At no expense, you learn when it is time to paint the basement white, replace the hot water heater, pull up that old brown carpet and refinish the beautiful wood floors, raise the kitchen ceiling and get rid of the "mustard-colored" appliances, replace the cloudy windows and who knows what else.
Just when I think spring and summer are my favorite times to enjoy the neighborhood, we get to the beautiful colors of fall. Even winter has gotten better in Fairlington Mews with reserved parking places. When it snows and you dig out your space, you know it will be yours when you return. Not so in earlier days.
I would be remiss not to say thank you to the many residents of the Mews who have given of their time and talents over the years to make this a place that gets better and better. For all of the volunteers in the condo association, you are assets of the community and make us want to continue living here.
Contributed by Shirley and John Lafferty
My daughter had been accepted into boarding school in Virginia and I regularly got stuck in traffic on the American Legion Bridge, so I spent the summer of 1998 looking for places equidistant to my job in downtown DC and her school in Greenway, VA, discovering Fairlington in the process. I moved from Silver Spring, MD into Court 12 on one of hottest days of August and was charmed when a neighbor appeared during the move-in with peach iced tea, cups, and even ice!
The original appeal of Fairlington was the mature trees, slate roofs and brick construction. The proximity of the swimming pools, the well-maintained appearance of the entire area and the lovely hardwood floors inside my unit added to those good impressions.
Change-of-address cards prompted many discussions that helped reinforce my decision: nearly everyone I spoke to had once lived in Fairlington; still lived in Fairlington; or wanted to move into Fairlington! Indeed, I couldn't help but notice how quickly For Rent and For Sale signs appeared and disappeared that summer - and have continued to do so ever since then. Fairlington's appeal just seems to grow.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that almost all the stores I would need were located within walking distance of Court 12: grocery, bakery, florist, movie-rental, wine shop, café and coffee shop. The Public Library stays open late enough so that I can use it easily, while the palette of temptations that is Shirlington just gets better and better.
I have amused my neighbors with my reports about the distances one can go for a walk or run right inside the boundaries of Fairlington. I enjoy a feeling of safety as I exercise each morning, waving to fellow-exercisers, dog-walkers and newspaper delivery groups. As someone who was born and raised overseas, moved frequently and yet is also a pack rat, I share with many Fairlingtonians the challenge of fitting lots of belongings into small spaces.
When the movers were struggling to 'convince' my camelback sofa through the front entrance and around that tight entry angle, one of the moving giants simply turned and said, "Lady, it's probably better if you leave the room now!" I did so - and will never know how they managed to get that piece of furniture inside!
Nearly five years later, I still look forward to coming home each evening to Court 12, Fairlington. Our semi-official Fairlington mascots (the squirrels and birds) visit and serenade me daily, while my neighbor's gardening efforts enhance the appearance of the entire Court. I am indeed fortunate to live here.
Contributed by Sara Dalcher
The Taliafferos Talk About Fairlington
Between the two of us, we have lived in Fairlington for thirty-nine years. Most of that time is Norma's; she moved here in 1971 as a renter and has lived in four different units.
When she and Dick became engaged, they realized they could not ask for a more perfect place to live. And, when Norma had to have both hips replaced, they were happy that the floor plan provided the easy accessibility she needed as she recovered.
Norma gives her father credit for encouraging her to buy in Fairlington in 1976 as it made the transition from rental to condominium community. "My father was favorably impressed with the excellent condition of the brickwork," she explains. "He felt that I could not go wrong if I invested here - and was he ever right!"
Besides enjoying their home and neighborhood, Norma and Dick have been pleased with the steady growth in value of their property. "Neither of us would have dreamed that it would appreciate the way it has," Dick says. He especially likes the layout of Fairlington because it reminds him of a college campus.
As former college advisers for a secondary school, both Dick and Norma have spent a lot of time at colleges and universities; and they enjoy being reminded of those pleasant settings. Both of them are impressed, too, with the dedication and hard work of residents who serve the community as committee members, as court reps, and as members of the Mews Board. "We don't ever want to leave," the Taliaferros agree.
Contributed by Dick and Norma Taliaferro
In June of 1976 my husband and I moved into Fairlington Mews from Washington, D.C. Actually, I should say he moved me into the house and left immediately for a job in Saudi Arabia.
We had looked at Fairlington the year before when he began talking about going to the Mideast but felt the prices were too high! Little did we know. But we liked the location and the fact that it would be possible to get to shopping and church on foot if necessary.
Of course, I knew nothing about getting around in Northern Virginia and felt almost as if I had been left in a foreign country. The streets had no apparent pattern, the same street would abruptly become something else and then pick up again later with no warning - all very confusing. And I still am not too good when I get into North Arlington.
I remember thinking how terribly quiet it was out here - it was almost frightening. I was alone in a 3-level house, I didn't know a soul and it was QUIET. In D.C. we had lived in an apartment house just off Connecticut Avenue and about a half block from a fire station plus with a bus route in front of the building. Of course, we now have more traffic through Fairlington and lots of fire engines run past my house, but it is still pretty quiet late at night.
I served on the Mews Board of Directors for seven years and have also been on various committees over the years. These things are good ways of getting to know people and learn how things work.
When I first moved to Fairlington I met a number of people who had lived here when it was a rental community and had liked it so well that they bought units when it converted. That was certainly a good endorsement.
I have now lived in Fairlington longer than any other place and plan to remain here. There have been changes, of course, but the things that were reasons for moving here are still here - trees and more trees, lots of lawn space, being part of a community, getting to know people who would probably stay around for a while, easy proximity to shopping, public transportation, etc. and now that we have been named a Historic Community, most of that will remain.
Contributed by Frances Kerns
Turnover in the "eighties"reduced the percentage of young families while the personal safety value of Fairlington was reflected in the growth of the "single women" and "older couple" groups. This trend still continues.
Condominiums do not have significant reserve funds when they first start out. Tight expense control is necessary to improve the financial situation.
Gradually our Boards approved more funds for enhancing overall appearance: tree plantings, removal of 50 years of caked paint on many porches, a more frequent painting cycle (from 5 years to 4 in 1994 and now it is every 3 years), patio fence replacement in 1993, a new long range plan for slate roof replacement (1994), apartment hallway renovation (2003) and removal of overgrown shrubs on several occasions. The Mews appearance, indeed Fairlington's appearance, continues to improve steadily.
The value of an Inside Clarendon unit in January 1980 was $78,000 and our Condo Fee was $78 per month, a ratio of 1 to 1000. Over the next ten years The Inside Clarendon unit values escalated rapidly to $156,000 while fees crept up to $137; but, then property values hovered in the same range and by 1995 were $162,000 while fees caught-up at $162 p.m. This correlation has changed dramatically since then, particularly the last 3 years. Our fees have increased to $193 p.m. for the inside unit but that unit's value now exceeds $300,000.
These changes are the kind we can appreciate and enjoy.
Contributed by Don Taylor
Diane climbed the ladder to the slide in front of Tim and fell, hitting her head on the concrete base. Diane ran home screaming, and a man picked up Tim, brought him home, and handed him to me.
Diane was in hysterics, blood gushing from her head, as it will from a scalp wound. Her mother called the rescue squad, and within a few minutes EMTs were rushing Diane and her mother off to the emergency room. Fortunately, Diane was not seriously hurt.
After all the commotion died down, I set Tim down, and he fell over. It turned out that he'd had his foot on the bottom step, and Diane had fallen on his ankle, which hurt him so much he couldn't stand. When we said we'd better take him to the doctor, he started crying. He'd seen what happened to Diane, and he didn't want the same thing to happen to him. So we took care of him ourselves.
Tim wasn't scared away from the playground. The next year he fell from the jungle gym and when we left Fairlington in 1964, his broken arm was in a cast.
Contributed by Hugh Nugent
I presently live in Chico, CA and work as a luthier (I make fiddles and mandolins), and in the aftermarket auto parts business. I have fond memories (what memories I have retained after 48 years) of my time in Fairlington.
Fairlington was a great place for a kid to live in the forties and fifties, and there were many kids in the community then. I remember when I was about 5 or 6, there was a fellow who brought a pony around and he would dress up kids as cowboys or cowgirls and take there pictures for a modest price. The parents loved that. They'd get together and socialize during those photography sessions right there on the lawns. There was another fellow who rode around on a pedal cart who sharpened knives and such, and my aunt had the Jack & Jill ice cream truck route in Fairlington in those years. I remember the yard keepers coming with their big-tractor lawnmowers, and spraying every year for bumblebees (a problem back then). This news would usually scare the kids indoors for a day or two!
In the winters when it snowed, the county would block off a road across from our place. It was a long downhill run, and they did it to let the kids sled on the snow covered pavement (I believe it was S. Utah St. but am not sure - it went right past the baseball fields of the elementary school I went to). They also provided a flatbed truck (sometimes a horse drawn wagon) to take the kids back up the road. I have looked at your map on the site, but today (after 48 years) the road layout looks a bit different to me, but turned into a sled path, the run seemed to us kids like 1/2 mile long! Great fun!!
My first little girlfriend, Lynn Gableman, lived two doors down on the corner. Her father worked for the Navy. Her family left a year before we did, and I have not heard of her in fifty years, other then hearing that she once swam in the Olympics. Hope she's still with us. Next to us was a married couple without kids whose name was Middleton. Rather mysterious, but good natured folks. My grandfather practiced the electronics hobby and built the first TV in the neighborhood (late '40's)! I remember neighbors always coming over to watch this or that show. At the top of Quaker Lane was an old shopping complex with an ancient movie theater (the Fairlington Theater?) where my brother and I stole off each weekend to watch the great, early '50's horror flicks. Even during the Korean war, Fairlington was a happy place, and a great community! Most residents were not wealthy, but crime was non-existent and families couldn't do better.
My actual father did not live with us in Fairlington. But he was a part owner (if I recall correctly-possibly a high ranking manager) of the Jack & Jill Ice Cream company in Washington, D.C. (which competed with Good Humor in vending trucks), and he assigned my aunt Marion the Fairlington route, as I have already mentioned. There was an owl that lived in a tree on the elementary school grounds very close to the corner of S. 34th. and S. Utah (at least I think it was S. Utah). Anyway, for some reason no one ever understood, and even in daylight, whenever my aunt drove the ice cream truck into that area, that owl would fly down and land on the top of the truck, on the bar that held the bells she rang to let the kids know she was around.
Eventually my aunt trained the owl to ride around with her in the cab, and the kids she sold ice cream to loved it! This lasted a few weeks until some nervous mothers called the health dept. or someone, and they took the animal. Anyone who was a kid in that area, in those years, might remember that one.
My grandfather was quite a card in those days, and was probably thought of as the jester of the neighborhood. One little incident that is probably remembered today by no one: I have mentioned that he was an electronics wizz. I don't know if all the units had a basement, but ours did, and that's where he kept is shop. One summer weekend, probably around 1952 (wow! 51 years ago), he built a man sized robot (I recall it being similar to Robbie the Robot-but it had a cable running from it's foot) and walked it down the sidewalk along the building, controlling it from our kitchen through the cable. This again was at 4419 S. 34th. St. The walk only lasted about 3 minutes before it broke and he had to go out and retrieve it. But by the time he got it inside, the police had arrived and a bunch of nervous neighbors had gathered to find out who the alien invaders were! That's probably NOT the kind of Fairlington story you're looking for, but it happened, and I still remember laughing my &^% off about it!
In 1984, during a trip to Arlington to visit a friend, I had some free time and a rental car, so I went to Fairlington to reminisce. It seemed smaller, (kids always see things bigger) but indeed looked much finer then I remembered. But the kids that filled every courtyard were gone, the sled run seemed much shorter, and the feel was different. But that's okay, for I still have my memories of Fairlington, and that's really all that matters.
Douglas T. Polk III
Like so many workers, they faced the daunting task of searching for housing in wartime Washington. In a letter dated April 26, 1943, to a former student named Robert Parks (who later became president of the University of Iowa at Ames), my father wrote:
Dad apparently applied for a rental unit in Fairlington because he subsequently received notice that his application for executive housing in Fairlington had been approved. But two days before, he had rented-sight unseen-a lovely house at 2815 Key Boulevard. Bob Parks, however, did move into a house in Fairlington on 34th Street, just a block from where I have lived for the past quarter century. Are there other current Fairlingtonians whose parents or grandparents lived in Fairlington at some time during World War II?
Founder & Senior Research Historian
Washington Historical Research
Yesterday after many decades I returned to Fairlington with my parents, both 84 years old. Traveling from Shirlington, I recognized little until we arrived at our former home at 3052 South Woodrow Street. From that address, everything looked just as I had remembered it, except that the houses looked smaller, and there weren't any kids. It was a Sunday afternoon. We met a resident who told us about the history of Fairlington, and the Historical Society, so I thought I would write down some of my recollections.
My parents moved to Fairlington in 1945. At the time, my father was serving in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Washington, D.C. He was there as an economist, trained at Columbia, and his job during the War was to identify "bottlenecks" in the German production of war materials. These became targets for allied bombing, such as a ball bearing factory.
Last Thursday evening, my mother went out with their mother to dinner and a concert at the Kennedy Center.