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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Neighborhood Spotlight: Annandale Acres

Beverly Street

Annandale Acres is a mix of new and old and small and large houses, but what really sets it apart from other neighborhoods are the large lots. It’s always been zoned R-1 (one acre per unit), and residents several times beat back attempts to rezone it for higher density.

Annandale Acres might well be the oldest community in Annandale—it was carved out of farmland in 1940—and while many of the houses have been renovated, added on to, or replaced by McMansions, there are still a few original houses left. The old farm house, on Auburn Street, is still there, too.

And because the original buyers purchased lots and built their own houses, there’s a long tradition of originality in the neighborhood. There’s even a house shaped like a geodesic dome.

There are still a few original houses, like this one.
Another strength is the neighborhood’s quietness, even though it’s inside the beltway and close to central Annandale. The only way to access Annandale Acres is from Backlick Road onto Beverly and Auburn streets, so the lack of through-traffic—and the absence of sidewalks—gives the neighborhood a country feel.

In recent years, Annandale Acres residents have been battling flooding from heavy storms, which has gotten worse since houses were built by UPIA LLC along Degroff Court on the other side of Backlick Road by UPIA LLC several years ago.

Many of the old houses have been torn down and replaced by much larger ones.
When those houses were proposed, Annandale Acres didn’t have an active civic association, so residents didn’t have a voice at Planning Commission hearings. When UPIA announced plans to build more houses near Degroff Court in 2012, Carolyn Freeman and other residents reconstituted the civic association to push for more robust stormwater controls. They weren’t able to stop the houses from being built, but UPIA did put in a larger retention pool to control drainage.  

Other issues for the community association include keeping an eye on building code violations and illegal overcrowding and opposing a Fairfax County proposal that would have allowed residential studio units in single-family neighborhoods. [The RSU proposal is still under debate, but the Planning Commission agreed to restrict these units to higher-density areas.]

The original farmhouse is still here.
Now that the real estate market is improving, many of the older rental properties have been purchased by young families, Freeman says, “and people are showing more of an interest in being part of a neighborhood.”

The civic association is planning several social activities to bring neighbors together, including an Easter egg hunt and brunch in April, a community yard sale, a National Night Out cookout in August, and a Heritage Harvest festival next fall.

Freeman grew up in Annandale Acres, in a house on Calvert Street her parents purchased in 1948. Freeman moved back to the old house in 2004 to care for her father and bought it in 2007. (Her sister, Nikki McDonald, was interviewed in the Annandale Blog last month about old-time Annandale.)

Annandale Acres was established by Vernon Lynch, who bought a120-acre farm and sold it in one-acre lots in 1940, Freeman says. The original houses were hooked up to the electrical grid but there was no water or sewer service, so homeowners had to rely on well water and septic tanks, she says.

Of course, everyone is hooked up the county water and sewer system now, but there still is no storm drainage system, so some of the lower-lying houses flood every time there is a heavy rain.

The original “deed of dedication for the land” signed by Lynch shows how Annandale was truly part of the South at that time. It prohibits lots from being conveyed to anyone “not of the Caucasian race.” It also bans home buyers from selling alcoholic beverages, operating a dance hall or dog kennel, or raising pigs. Apparently other farm animals were allowed, as Freeman remembers neighbors with cows and horses in their backyard.

Annandale Acres Snapshot

Number of houses: 120
Location: Along Auburn, Beverly, and Calvert streets and Clemons Court.
Fairfax County district: Mason
Schools: Braddock Elementary School, Poe Middle School, Annandale High School.
Recreation: Backlick Park, Wilburdale Park, Audrey Moore RECenter/Wakefield Park.  
Home prices: $390,000 to $1.3 million.

The dome house.


  1. Very interesting thank you. I'll look forward to reading about other neighborhoods in Mason District their history and development. It's fun.

  2. Grew up in Annandale Acres in the 60's and 70's and owned the house till 2005. Too bad so much of it has changed.. And not for the good.


  4. This is a great neighborhood! A 'rural' community in an otherwise high density area! Great family environment with lots of trees and land for people to garden and kids to play!