Tysons, VA

The history room at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library in the City of Falls Church will temporarily close beginning Sunday, Aug. 18.

The closure comes after the city’s decision to revamp the room, which officials said is not in a position to meet the growing demand, into a “larger, more prominent” space at the aging library (120 N. Virginia Avenue).

The renovation includes adding 3,174 square feet, along with new features that will ensure a quieter and more comfortable experience for visitors.

“The new room will also again have regular weekly hours to encourage drop-ins and generally increase access,” the website said.

While the renovations are taking place, the files and documentation will be placed in storage and won’t be available for public access until the renovation is completed in late 2020 or early 2021. However, people can still search for photos, death notices and obituaries online.

By 2033, the library’s website said it expects more than 35,000 people to take advantage of the sources available in the history room.

Image via City of Falls Church

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As new developments crop up around Vienna, even the Money and King Funeral Home at 171 W. Maple Avenue — Vienna’s oldest business — isn’t immune to change.

The funeral home was founded in 1881 — the same year President Garfield was assassinated and a gunfight took place at the O.K Corral. From then until earlier this year, the business was family owned. But when the last of that family line turned 80 this spring, the business was passed on to others who had worked closely with the family over years.

But President and General Manager Robert Carmical, who has worked at the funeral home since 1994, says that while some things have evolved over time, the service hasn’t changed.

“We’re here to help,” said Carmical. “The [work we do] is in the little things, like printing booklets and arranging the music. It’s a celebration of this person’s life.”

Over time, Carmical said there’s been some evolutions in the funeral industry. Most funerals were traditionally held in homes or in churches, but with the slow erosion of church connections, Carmical said businesses like his are seeing more people asking to hold the services at the funeral home. Accordingly, the old church-style pews have been replaced by chairs.

He also said cremation has become more popular as an alternative to burial.

Carmical’s favorite thing about funerals is learning about people.

“You learn things about people, like their hobbies,” said Carmical. “These are things some people don’t know about [their friends], like they collected stamps or toys, or how everyone has a sweet tooth.”

Ashley Hopko contributed to this story

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A new book recounts tales about the Town of Vienna from the 1950s to early 2000s.

Marie Kisner, a former public information officer for the Town of Vienna, collected and compiled newspaper stories about Vienna for her newly released book, “Vienna Stories 1950-2000.”

“It basically fell in my lap,” Kisner told Tysons Reporter. In the early 200os, the Town’s clerk office decided to give dozens of boxes of news article clippings to Kisner, who sorted through the clippings.

“I didn’t have to go back and try to find a lot of old timers and pick their brains and see if they could remember these things,” Kisner said.

Originally, Kisner said that she sorted the articles chronologically, but then decided to organize the book by recurring themes, like animals, beautification, businesses, civil rights and politics.

Many of the issues Kisner recounts Vienna residents tackling decades ago — traffic, Tysons Corner’s growing presence and development — are still relevant to locals today.

“People need to know they can’t sit back and hope — hope — that Vienna will stay Vienna,” Kisner said. “I think development has always been like issue #1.”

Kisner said that she not only wrote the book to preserve its history from the news articles, but also to remind current residents of the struggles the town has gone through to maintain its unique character.

“One of the reasons I wrote the book is so people who live in Vienna now who think, ‘Oh what a wonderful town we’ve got,’ they will realize it didn’t happen by accident,” Kisner said. “It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make and keep Vienna the way it is, and those same issues keep coming up.”

While Kisner does not cite throughout the book, “Acknowledgements” section includes a list of the news publications that the articles came from:

  • “The Washington Post”
  • “Washington Evening Star”
  • “Washington Business Journal”
  • “Fairfax Globe”
  • “Fairfax Journal”
  • “Northern Virginia Sun”
  • “Sentinel”
  • “Sound of Vienna”
  • “Sun-Gazette”
  • “Vienna Viewpoint”
  • “Vienna Connection”
  • “Vienna Times”
  • “Vienna Advertiser”

“My thought was if I cited every single newspaper reference, the book would probably be twice as thick and it would break up the narrative too much,” she said.

Since the book is based on the articles, Kisner decided to refer to herself in the third person, saying “Right now I’m just part of the cast of characters in this book.”

Kisner, who now lives in Texas, is set to come back to Vienna for a book talk and signing next Thursday (June 20) at 7:30 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street SE).

She will also sign books during the Antiques and Collectibles Evaluation event at the Freeman Store (131 Church Street NE) next Saturday (June 22) from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Book lovers and history buffs can buy the book for $12.99 at the Freeman Store. All of the proceeds from the book will go to the town’s historical society.

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Fairfax County Fire and Rescue is sharing some of its history as it celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Samuel Redmond was the first of the 10 career firefighters hired in 1949, according to a fire department post. Redmond was issued badge #1 and assigned to Station 1 in McLean.

More from the post:

In 1949, the Board of Supervisors approved the hiring of firefighters for each of the volunteer stations. In addition, they approved the installation of a central fire alarm system so Police dispatchers “would dispatch the engines from the department or departments nearest the fire and this would eliminate a great deal of confusion.”

On July 1, 1949, the first 10 career firefighters were hired at an annual salary of $2,500… Career firefighters were called “paid men” and served primarily as daytime apparatus drivers. The various chiefs of the volunteer departments would choose the personnel who would be hired by the County and ultimately work for their departments. This practice would continue for many years. As members of their respective volunteer departments these firefighters responded to “after hours” calls from their homes.

The fire department also shared a video of Sgt. Vincent Guidi, a member of the original “Paid Brigade” hired in 1949, sharing memories from his career at the fire department.

Now 70 years later, FCFRD is the largest fire department in Virginia with approximately 1,400 career firefighters, 170 civilians and 370 operational volunteers, according to the fire department.

First image via Google Maps, second image via FCFRD

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (May 7)

  • Town of Vienna Election6 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street SE.) — There is a competitive race for the Town Council in Vienna, mainly focusing on the scale of new developments.
  • “The Guest Book” Reading and Signing7:30-9:30 p.m. at Barnes & Nobles (7851 Tysons Corner Center) — Sarah Blake, author of the historical novel The Guest Book, will read from the book and sign copies at the Tysons Corner Center Barnes and Noble.

Thursday (May 9)

  • Innovation Breakfast: The Opportunity in Opportunity Zones8-10:30 a.m. at Valo Park (7950 Jones Branch Drive) — The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia is hosting a business breakfast looking at opportunity zones, tracts of land targeted by state and federal governments for economic development. The breakfast will look at where they exist and what can be accomplished with them. Registration is $40 and includes breakfast.
  • Urban Forest Perfume Making Workshop 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Brandbox Lounge (Tysons Corner Center) — For Mother’s Day, the Urban Forest Perfume Company is setting up a workshop looking at the art of plant-based perfumes. Participants will get a class in understanding synthetic versus plant ingredients, perfume notes and basic formulas. Light food and wine will also be served.
  • Vienna Community Brainstorming on Public Parking in Commercial Corridor6-7 p.m. at the Town Hall Council Chambers (127 Center Street S.) — The Town Business Liaison Committee and Mayor Laurie DiRocco will host a community conversation about parking. This is an opportunity to gather further feedback from business owners and refine solutions proposed at the March 14 community meeting.
  • The Civil War in Northern Virginia7:30-9 p.m. at the Patrick Henry Library (101 Maple Ave E.) — Historian William S. Connery, author of “Civil War Northern Virginia 1861” will host a discussion of notable events and battles throughout Northern Virginia after the firing on Fort Sumter.

Friday (May 10)

  • Young Adult Dungeons and Dragons — 3:30-6 p.m. at the Patrick Henry Library (101 Maple Ave E.) — A group of players are putting together an all-experience levels Dungeons and Dragons group aimed at grades 7-12.

Saturday (May 11)

  • All the Way Live — 1-2 p.m. at the Alen Theatre (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — The history-through-hip-hop children’s show is coming to the Alden Theatre in the McLean Community Center. Tickets range from $10-$15.

Sunday (May 12)

  • Mother’s Day Brunch — 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Cheesetique Mosaic (2985 District Ave.) — Cheesetique in the Mosaic District is hosting a Mother’s Day event featuring a mimosa bucket, green eggs and ham, french toast, and lobster mac and cheese. The shop will also be open with special gifts for mothers. Reservations are encouraged.
  • Mother’s Day Brunch — 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Inca Social (2670 Avenir Place) — Inca Social is hosting a Latin-style brunch on Sunday with cocktails and special brunch items. Children under 6 years old eat for free.
  • Listen to Your Mother’s Jokes5-7 p.m. at Tysons Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike) — In a special comedy show, the Tysons Biergarten is hosting local standup comedians who are also mothers. Seating starts at 5 p.m. with the show starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Photo via Facebook

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Vienna’s Windover Heights Historic District is a little secluded, but on Sunday, April 28, the neighborhood is throwing open its doors to the public for its annual A Walk on the Hill.

The small neighborhood is located just northwest of the Maple Avenue near Lawyers Road. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Windover Heights being designated as a historic district.

The festival is planned to include live music and photography exhibits, in addition to tours of the historic neighborhood. During the celebration, visitors are also invited to stroll through 50 participating yards and landscaped gardens.

Several homes in the neighborhood date back to the late 19th century, with the local history going back further with stories of Union soldiers using the area as a cavalry outpost during the Civil War.

According to town documents, notable historic spots on the tour include:

  • 214 Lawyers — The original First Baptist Church was built here in 1887 by the black community on land deeded for $1 by Major O. E. Hine, Vienna’s first mayor. The material was from the Union Army barracks of the Civil War. This was the first church in Vienna and was also used as a school until the 1890s.
  • The Barn at Windover — The barn was originally part of the Salsbury dairy farm on the hill. Handmade wooden pegs have continued being used in the building’s preservation and the original design is maintained.
  • The West End Cemetery — The land was deeded in 1884 by Capt. Harmon Salsbury and his second wife, Susannah Freeman, to the small black community that had grown up around the Salsbury farm. Many of the tombstones date to the turn of the century and before. Thomas and Daniel West, prominent black citizens, are buried here. In 1987 Historic Vienna, Inc. rededicated the cemetery as a historic Vienna landmark.

The event is free and open to the public, with local residents providing punch and cookies during the celebration. Parking for the event is available at the Green Hedges School and at the Vienna Arts Society (243 Church Street NW).

Photo via Facebook

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The Washington Revels, a musical group from Silver Spring, is planning a concert in McLean this weekend for a second annual celebration of a local church’s history.

Tomorrow (Saturday), the group is planned to hold a performance in the Historic Pleasant Grove Church at 8641 Lewinsville Road in McLean from 3-5 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.

The church was established in 1896 by the descendants of freed slaves. Services at the church were discontinued in 1968, but today the site holds a museum and hosts several public events.

According to the group’s website, the performance will feature traditional music from African American congregations in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The program is planned to open with a short presentation on the history of the church and the surrounding area, with refreshments and a social hour after the show.

Photo via Facebook

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Students at a private school in Tysons got to examine and touch artifacts from American history in a unique lesson on World War II.

The traveling “Operation Footlocker” exhibit stopped by an AP U.S. history class at the BASIS Independent McLean (BIM) yesterday (Tuesday), according to the school.

The program by the National WWII Museum sends a footlocker full of 15 artifacts from WWII — like letters home, sand collected from Normandy and Iwo Jima, or wartime magazines — to schools in order to facilitate hands-on educational experiences.

The footlocker opened in BIM included a 1944 high school yearbook, wooden toys, and a U.S. Army field manual. The footlockers come with cotton gloves for handling the artifacts and a manual to explain the significance of each object.

“We’re grateful to the National World War II Museum for this fantastic learning opportunity that allows our students to touch, feel and see this moment in history with genuine artifacts,” said Tiffany Conroy, head of school for BIM in the press release.

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Falls Church a city almost exactly 100 years older than the first daguerreotype cameras. It was a recruiting station for the American militia in the Revolutionary War and the scene of minor skirmishes throughout the American Civil War.

But even so, it’s a city that’s gone through numerous changes over the last 80 years of Fairfax County’s aerial photography.

Unlike most of nearby Tysons, Falls Church already has the visible bones of a small city by the photography from 1937. The familiar street network is in place, with several homes situated along the intersection of Broad and Washington Streets.

By 1953, the Winter Hill neighborhood was built, and the cookie-cutter pattern of American suburbia was starting to stamp down on fields around the town.

The aerial photography is spotty after that, with no coverage in the 1960s or 70s, but returns in 1980, when downtown Falls Church’s transition to strip malls and small shopping centers was in full swing.  New streets, like Annandale Road, also connected businesses along Washington Street to homes and other businesses along Broad Street.

There was less change between 1980 and 1990 though, when most the changes took place at the western end of the downtown area where new apartments and new shopping centers were built closer to Lee Street or with new northeast of Broad Street.

Like nearby Vienna, the pace of development in Falls Church slowed dramatically after 1990. Very little of the town’s shape and structure changed between 1990 and 2007, and less between 2007 and 2017.

One of the most visible changes in downtown Falls Church was the construction of the Harris Teeter in 2016, the first grocery store in the city’s downtown in three decades.

Previous Then and Now features from around the area include:

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(Updated 8:30) — A new exhibit in Vienna’s Freeman Store & Museum showing the town’s expansion in the 1950s is scheduled for a grand opening Sunday (March 10).

The museum’s website says the new exhibit will feature stories of how the town grew in the ’50s through the twin lenses of the opportunities and challenges of the decade.

The store and museum is managed by Historic Vienna Inc., a local non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting local history.

According to the Historic Vienna Inc. newsletter:

Remember hula hoops, Barbie dolls, play doh, and matchbox cars? Remember Patsy Cline, Elvis, Little Richard, and the Kingston Trio? How about Leave It to Beaver, Gunsmoke, I Love Lucy, and The Ed Sullivan Show? The Korean War? segregation? Vienna experienced the 50s in all its good, bad, and ugly. Come to the Freeman Store to experience Vienna in the 50s through an exciting multimedia exhibit.

In the early part of the decade, Vienna’s Maple Avenue was still a street that ran mostly through fields with sporadic residences along the roadside, but over time the next few decades, the town would gradually become more and more developed.

According to the Town of Vienna website:

In 1940, Vienna was still a small, quiet, rural town with a population of 1,237 and remained virtually untouched by the metropolitan character of the nation’s capital. The town began to take on a new look in the 1950s when many businesses started to move from the old commercial section on Church Street to Maple Avenue. The post-World War II rush to the suburbs brought a burgeoning of population to Northern Virginia, almost 10,000 new residents to Vienna alone, their new houses blending with those of an earlier era.

In 1954, the first of Vienna’s modern shopping centers was opened. More shopping centers followed in quick succession along a widened Maple Avenue in an attempt to keep up with the influx of newcomers who bought homes in the town’s new subdivisions. Older residents recall with nostalgia the Victorian homes and the maple trees that lined Maple Avenue before it was widened in 1958.

The other current exhibit in the museum is dedicated to the Women’s Suffrage Movement, highlighting the 100th anniversary of the League of Women Voters.

Photo via Town of Vienna

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