Tysons, VA

A lone brick house at the northern entrance to Tysons since the 1940s could soon become a new trio of homes.

The house, visible to anyone traveling south into Tysons on Leesburg Pike, will be demolished with three new single-family houses built on the site. The property sits directly across Jarrett Valley Drive from the McLean Islamic Center and has belonged to the same family over several generations — long predating the surrounding Carrington neighborhood built in 2000.

The permit for rezoning was reviewed at a Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday (Tuesday) due to the new houses’ proximity to the nearby roads. Part of the development plan includes a sound wall separating the homes from the nearby roads to screen some of the traffic noise.

There were no public speakers on the item, except one particularly loud cat who was not listed as a public speaker. The new development was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Photo via Google Maps, aerial photography via Fairfax County

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In contrast to Tysons, where the skyline is evolving, McLean is more well-known for its established neighborhoods that include historic mansions and estates.

Given McLean’s proximity to the nation’s capital, there have been several noteworthy community members who decided to take up residency at these prominent homes.

According to various sites, like the Washington Post, many of the D.C. area’s most expensive properties are located in McLean. The average home in McLean is around a million dollars, according to Zillow.

The Merrywood mansion, built-in 1919, is known as Jackie Kennedy’s childhood home and is valued at around $50 million today.

The home was designed by the same architect that was responsible for the White House, according to Curbed. Amenities includes nine bedrooms, 11 full bathrooms, a pool, an elevator, a library and a grand fireplace.

Another nearby property which was owned by the Kennedy family is Hickory Hill. Though it is usually given more historical merit than anything else, according to Architectural Digest, its origins are thought to date back to around 1870.

While he doesn’t own the home, former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden also rents a multi-million dollar mansion in the McLean area.

Per month, the property costs the Biden family around $20,000, Reuters reported, adding that the property was purchased for $4.25 million in 2016.

According to the Fairfax County Times, two of Virginia’s most expensive homes can be found in McLean — one of which is found at 801 Turkey Run Road. The property is valued at a little under $10 million, according to Zillow. It is unclear if the home has any historical or noteworthy ties.

On the upper end of private properties, for a price tag of $75 million, a home hidden behind clever landscaping at 409 Chain Bridge Road, includes 12 bedrooms and 21 bathrooms, according to Homes of the Rich.

The property — called The Falls — was built in 2000 by AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey. features of the property include wine cellars, an outdoor swimming pool, a private tennis court and ample living space. A guest home adjacent to the house was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

At 1173 Dolley Madison Blvd, sits another home worth over $5 million, according to Zillo. The six-bedroom, 10-bathroom house sits on just over an acre of land but offers sweeping stairways, bright windows and even a personal movie theatre.

During holidays and other times of the year, groups like the McLean Woman’s Club offer tours of some of the estates to raise money for charity but the group only shows off a few of McLean’s larger properties. There is no guarantee that these will be homes of prominent figures, though.

Catherine Douglas Moran contributed to this report. 

Photo via Woman’s Club of McLean/Facebook

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The 1960s are making a comeback at Historic Vienna’s upcoming time-traveling exhibit.

People can check out the exhibit starting Sunday (March 1). Historic Vienna is set to host a grand opening celebration a week later, on March 8 from 2-4 p.m., according to the website.

The exhibit will be located at the Freeman Store & Museum (131 Church Street NE) and will include a U-2 pilot suit worn by Lt. Col. Sam Crouse, vintage toys and movie posters from films such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” the event page said.

More serious topics such as segregation, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement will also be addressed at the museum, according to the website.

“HVI encourages visitors to add a personal — and local — touch to the exhibit by sharing their story,” the webpage said, adding that people will be able to post on a message board about their own experiences surrounding the decade.

Typically, the Freeman Store & Museum is open from noon to 4 pm Wednesday through Sunday.

Photo via Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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Historians from Herndon and Vienna are working together on a project that would allow telegraph messages to be sent back and forth between the towns.

As the Herndon Depot Museum prepares to debut its new telegraph exhibit on March 1, they are hoping to bring Historic Vienna on board as well, according to Barbara Glakas, a Herndon Historical Society spokesperson, told Reston Now.

Though Herndon is on schedule to open up its public exhibit, Anne Stuntz with Historic Vienna said Vienna is not as far along with the plans, a town spokesperson said.

The Herndon exhibit will feature one working telegraph machine and antique telegraph parts, such as a telegraph key and a telegraph sounder. Visitors will also be able to learn how the code worked and try it out for themselves, according to Glakas.

It is unclear when the Vienna telegraph machine will be set up or if the display will resemble that of the Herndon exhibit.

Photo via Historic Vienna/Facebook

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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!

Wednesday (Feb. 19)

Thursday (Feb. 20)

  • b8ta Grand Opening — 7 to 9 p.m. at b8ta Tysons Corner (8086 Tysons Corner Center) —  A new store in Tysons Corner Center offers people the change to celebrate b8ta’s grand opening with champagne and appetizers. This event is free but RSVP is suggested.
  • WIT Connect — 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Valo Park Drive (7950 Jones Branch Drive) — This event from Women in Technology will allow people to learn about how technology is changing healthcare. Networking begins at 6 p.m. and the conference starts at 6:45 p.m. Tickets start at $45.

Friday (Feb. 21)

  • Storytime and Crafts with Local Children’s Author, Shelby! — 10 to 10:30 a.m. at Famille Cafe (700A W. Broad Street) — Families and kids can come and meet Shelby Hoefling, the author of recently published “Grandma’s in the Phone!” After the meet and greet, kids will be able to make crafts as well.

Saturday (Feb. 22)

  • Black History Forum — 2 p.m. at Justice High School (3301 Peace Valley Lane) —  This event will feature Alexandria’s first African-American Poet Laureate, KaNikki Jakarta. People will also be able to watch a trivia competition highlighting African-American Achievements in history, according to the website.

Sunday (Feb. 23)

  • Live Music with Blue Book Value — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Famille Cafe (700A W. Broad Street) — This NoVA band is known for their rock n’ roll, according to the event listing. They’ll be hosting a free performance for people hoping to enjoy some live entertainment.
  • Jazz Worship & Pancake Brunch — 10 a.m. Lewinsville Presbyterian Church (1724 Chain Bridge Road) — Everyone, regardless of church affiliation, is welcome to enjoy Jazz Worship Service and a Shrove Pancake Brunch. Breakfast quiches, casseroles and crepes will also be served.

Photo via Famille Cafe/Facebook

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People will have the chance to take a sneak peek at historic and luxurious homes around McLean in a few days.

The Woman’s Club of McLean is hosting its annual Holiday Home Tour with several properties near Ballantrae Farm this Thursday (Dec. 5). Tours will take place from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., starting at the Trinity United Methodist Church (1205 Dolley Madison Blvd).

This year’s event will highlight a roughly six-acre estate, along with two nearby homes.

The main estate was built in 1925 and has been renovated since. The surrounding grounds feature tennis courts, a swimming pool, a soccer field and a treehouse, according to a press release, which added that guests will also be able to see the Little Ballantrae farmhouse located on the property.

The two other homes included with the tour sit on Benjamin Street and were built around 2010.

The homes provide an example of “casual elegance with a nod to traditional southern living,” the owner said.

The yard attached to the properties also qualifies as a National Wildlife Sanctuary, according to a press release.

After guests tour the homes, they can return to the church to shop from a selection of local holiday vendors featuring crafts, freshly baked goods and holiday decorations.

Tickets cost $30 online and in advance or $35 a the door. If people want to purchase tickets in person beforehand, they can visit Mesmeralda’s (1339 Chain Bridge Road), Karin’s Florist (527 E. Maple Ave) or Great Dogs of Great Falls (9859 Old Georgetown Pike). All proceeds will benefit local charities and the Woman’s Club of McLean.

A shuttle to the homes is included in the ticket price for admission.

Photos via Woman’s Club of McLean

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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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