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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Neighborhood Spotlight: Broyhill Crest

Broyhill Crest features brick homes with large lots.
A brand-new school in Broyhill Crest is expected to boost community engagement in one of Annandale’s oldest and largest subdivisions.

Mason Crest Elementary School, to open in September, will be “a shot in the arm to the community,” says long-time resident Eileen Garnett, noting it will encourage parents to get more involved with the neighborhood. Community groups will be able to meet at the school, and its fields and playgrounds will be available for local families.
The new school is on the site of the former Masonville Elementary School, and Garnett was on a task force that tried to prevent Fairfax County Public Schools from closing that school. Since that effort failed, and Masonville closed in 1980, children in Broyhill Crest were bused to Beech Tree or Woodburn.

Mason Crest Elementary School
Broyhill Crest has about 1,500 houses in an area that extends along both sides of Gallows and Annandale roads and is roughly bordered by Holmes Run and Columbia Pines.

When asked what makes Broyhill Crest special, several residents cited its location inside the beltway and the active community pool. Broyhill Crest Community Association (BCCA) President, Brian Johnson also pointed to the neighborhood’s large lot sizes, the large numbers of mature trees, the increasingly diverse population, and its central location close to downtown Annandale and within easy reach of D.C. and Tysons Corner.

During the summer, the Broyhill Crest Recreation Association (BCRA) is a focal point for the community, with its active swim team and frequent social activities for kids and adults. Faced with declining membership rolls and renovation needs a few years ago, the community rallied to have a cell tower (disguised as redwood tree) built on the pool property, which remains a key source of funding for pool.

Last year, BCRC was awarded a Neighborhood Enhancement Partnership Program grant from Fairfax County to create a winding path through a wooded area near the pool.

People who live here care about one another and care about the schools, says Garnett, who moved to Broyhill Crest in 1972 and has been a leader in the BCCA, several PTAs, and the Annandale Commercial Business District Planning Committee and currently serves as the community’s hospitality chair.

Her husband, Stan, a former president of the BCRA, helped save a property close the pool out of the clutch of developers several years ago and turn it into Kendale Woods Park with a playground. Other assets in Broyhill Crest include the Holmes Run trail, the Holmes Run playground, and the community gardens in Broyhill Crest Park.

Mcmansions tower over the original houses.
Construction of the Broyhill Crest subdivision began in 1951 after the M.T. Broyhill and Sons Corp. purchased 90 acres of land. The first meeting of the Broyhill Crest Citizens Association in 1952 was held in the Pioneer Grange Hall, now a church, on Annandale Road.

Those 196 homes sold quickly, so the developer purchased additional land that had been a dairy farm owned by the Oliver family. After the last section of Broyhill Crest was completed in 1954, the subdivision had 500 homes, making it one of the largest in Fairfax County.

Over the years, several newer developments were incorporated into the BCCA—including Annagrove, Annandale Garden, Annandale Mews, Annandale Woods, Annanwood, Beverly Manor Park, Chatelain Village, Holly Hills, Kenwood Park, Masonville Heights, Oliver Knolls, Oliver Park, Rolfs Heights, and Timberwood.

Many of the original houses, mostly ramblers, with a fair number of bi-levels and colonials thrown into the mix, have been expanded or replaced with much larger houses. Prices range from about $300,000 to $580,000.

The original Oliver farmhouse, on Gallows Road, is up for sale, and the neighborhood is concerned that the house could be torn down to make way for several mcmansions.

BCCA’s Neighborhood Watch has been going strong for nearly 32 years, says coordinator Gordon Weihmiller. The group currently has 25 volunteers, including three who have served for 30 years. The neighborhood’s babysitting co-op, which started in the 1970s, recently morphed into a family co-op. Its members plan family activities and raise money for community events, as well as babysit one another’s children.   

The co-op is currently planning an annual pig roast/silent auction fundraiser with live music, July 21 at the pool. It’s open to the public.

Holmes Run Trail
Concerns cited by BCCA President Brian Johnson are similar to those of other Annandale communities: the need to attract new, younger and more diverse volunteers and the need to get people to take better care of their property.

 “We have to get new blood. This is serious,” Eileen Garnett told the mostly middle-aged residents who came to the group’s annual meeting this spring. Several long-time volunteers, including those in charge of the newsletter and directory, are quitting, and no one has stepped up yet to take their place.

BCCA Vice President David Holland said people struggling to get by in the troubled economy and many of the neighborhood’s increasing number of older people are less able to keep their properties well maintained.

To address those issues, members of Broyhill Crest’s Neighbor 2 Neighbor committee routinely patrols the streets and deliver notices when they see problems like grass that is too high or too many junk cars. 

Despite the challenges, Holland says Broyhill Crest “still has a Happy Days, Mayberry feel to it.” Johnson says when he was house hunting in Northern Virginia, “this place felt like a community.”


  1. Quote: Mcmansions tower over the original houses. You mean the original little boxes of ticky-tacky, right?

    1. "Quote: Mcmansions tower over the original houses. You mean the original little boxes of ticky-tacky, right? "

      Mcmansions are Mcmansions. Doesn't matter if someone thinks they are gorgeous or ugly, they are still Mcmansions and they still tower over the orginial houses.

      On the other hand, there are plenty of us who don't happen to think that OUR HOMES are "little boxes of ticky-tacky." Your utter rudeness is unappreciated.

  2. Annandale was developed in the early 1950s. Marvin Broyhill was the developer. His niece still lives on Donna Circle. Given the location and rolling hills, Annandale could be double lot mansions or worse in the future.

  3. I grew up here in Annandale and I think everyone here has gotten to be so rude! Annandale, is not the friendly town it used to be when I was a child!