|Original Parklawn houses along Yellowstone Drive.|
Like so many other subdivisions in the Annandale/Mason area, Parklawn was built on farmland to meet the needs of population growth following World War II.
The neighborhood, generally between Columbia Pike, Holmes Run Stream Valley, and Lincolnia Road, was built in 1955 on what had been the Clark family’s dairy farm.
|A former farmhouse on Braddock Road predates the subdivision.|
The Clark House was moved from its original location in the 1980s to make way for the development of the Bancroft Mews townhouses. It was restored and now sits on a hill overlooking Columbia Pike and the Barcroft Plaza shopping center. There’s another smaller house owned by the Clark family on Braddock Road in Parklawn.
|A teardown on Yellowstone Drive.|
The original community had 625 houses, says Richard Zambito, president of the Parklawn Civic Association, but has grown as about 10 smaller neighborhoods were annexed over the years.
Most of the houses are basic ramblers, although there are a few split levels. The original houses are either 1,200 square feet one-story homes built on a slab or two-story 2,400 square feet houses, Zambito says. Most have had additions built over the years, and some have been totally transformed.
Home prices vary widely, from the low-$400,000s to close to $700,000 depending on size and the extent of improvements.
Few houses are on the market, however. “No one builds one-story homes anymore, so these homes are popular and sell quickly,” says Zambito, noting they attract empty nesters, retirees, and young families who’ve been priced out of Arlington.
Nearly all the streets are named for national parks, such as Yellowstone, Everglades, Teton, and Bryce. There’s an Arcadia Road, which is probably a misspelling of Acadia, a park in Maine.
There are so many trees, “some streets really do feel like a park,” Zambito says. Parklawn is bordered by Holmes Run Valley Stream Park, which has a nature trail and a new pedestrian bridge.
Other assets, cited by Zambito, include the Parklawn Pool, Glasgow Park, the baseball fields at Parklawn Elementary School, the wide diversity in ages and cultures among the residents, and the many sidewalks. Other than Braddock Road, there aren’t any cut-through streets, making Parklawn “somewhat secluded and insulated from the chaos of Columbia Pike and Lincolnia Road,” he says.
“People know each other here. That’s one of the really nice things,” he says. “On some levels it’s like a big second family.”
|A renovated home on Teton Place.|
At one time, the civic association and the Parklawn Recreation Association, which oversees the pool, had been combined but split up in the 1980s or 1990s, according to neighborhood lore, as residents sparred over the building of tennis courts. The civic association eventually dissolved, and the tennis courts, which had been poorly maintained, were demolished about five years ago.
Resident Mollie Loeffler revised the Parklawn Civic Association at about that time, with help from lots of volunteers, including Dave Galway. The group received several Fairfax County Neighborhood Enhancement Partnership Program grants for projects to clean up and improve Glasgow Park and add landscaping and signs at the neighborhood entrances.
The civic association also hosted several events to bring the community together, including the Spooky 5K, potluck dinners, National Night Out gatherings, and a house tour.
Parklawn is dealing with some of the same challenges facing other neighborhoods in Mason District, including an increase in rental properties, a decline in property maintenance, residents’ failure to pick up litter, and the difficulty getting people to volunteer for community projects.
A couple of recent land use issues have gotten the neighborhood’s attention in a big way, however. Plans in 2012 for a cell tower on property owned by the Parklawn Recreation Association sharply divided the community. Some residents argued that the pool needed the revenue from the cell tower while those opposed complained it would be an eyesore that would bring down property values.
The issue was finally resolved in May 2014, when a state appeals court affirmed a decision against the tower by the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals. “People put that conflict behind them,” Zambito says, noting that pool membership is up and, barring any new problems, “the pool will survive.”
Last fall, many Parklawn residents strongly opposed the Commonwealth of Virginia’s plans for a Department of Motor Vehicles customer center in the Barcroft Shopping Center. Local members of the General Assembly ultimately persuaded the DMV not to relocate.
That was a great victory for the neighborhood, not only because the DMV would have created traffic and parking problems, but because it might have caused Harris Teeter to move away, Zambito says. Many residents see that store as not only a shopping destination, but a good place to meet your neighbors.
Number of houses: 700+
Location: Mason District, east of Columbia Pike, with an Alexandria postal address.
Schools: Parklawn Elementary School, Glasgow Middle School, Stuart High School.
Recreation: Parklawn Pool, Glasgow Park, Holmes Run Stream Valley, Mason District Park.Home prices: $430,000 and up.