On the ground in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Arlington Heritage Alliance: What's your agenda?

February 3, 2011 - 06:51 AM
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(Photo: Courtesy of the Virginia Room, Arlington Public Library)

Name: Arlington Heritage Alliance

Agenda: "Promoting the preservation and creative use of sites of historic, architectural, natural, and cultural significance in Arlington County."

Members: An all volunteer organization of somewhere between 150 and 200 members.

Founded: 1989

Why they formed: This group of history lovers and concerned citizens formed in the late 1980s as a response to the copious tear-downs they were witnessing their neighborhoods as development progressed. While the Arlington Historic Society has to get a consensus on a particular site from its members, this group aimed to take more swift action, according to president Kathryn Smith."We wanted to react quicker to emerging threats to historic and natural heritage sites," Smith says. 

(A gallery of photos of Arlington's history, including some from Arlington Public Library's archives, after the jump.)

How it's going: There have been some successes and some noted failures in saving some of Arlington's older, quirky buildings. The group worked hard on the preservation of one of Arlington's Lustron houses (pre-fabricated metal houses built after World War II), and has won some victories in getting recognition of the value of the county's many historic garden apartment complexes.

But others have come down. Peck Chevrolet has been demolished to make way for a new JBG office building. AHA advocated for preserving the character of the Lee Center shopping center on Pershing Drive — a strip mall that was demolished last week. "A number of preservation organizations were concerned about the destruction of the commercial center there," says Smith. "Sadly, there’s not always an ethic of reusing/recycling historic buildings in Arlington."

What's next: The group is keeping its eyes on a couple of pending developments where old buildings currently stand — one being the block across from Courthouse Metro. (Did you know Cosi actually inhabits a historic bank building?) Another is the Overlee Swim Club site, which is home to an 1895 house that serves as the pool house. "While we’re not anti-development, we think it needs to be more careful," Smith says.

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  1. reggieo reggieo

    regina otis

    Feb 10, 2011 - 11:02:27 PM

    Sad to see Overlee historic clubhouse slated for demolition. Can the Heritage Alliance stop the razing of our history? http://bit.ly/dI1M0s

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