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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Neighborhood Spotlight: Parklawn

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.

Summit Place
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.

Glasgow Park
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.
Yosemite Drive
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. 

Parklawn Pool
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.”

Hawaii Court
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.

Parklawn Snapshot
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.


  1. Love it! Parklawn is awesome and supporting your local pool truly supports the neighborhood. When we stick together and know our neighbors this is truly an amazing place.

  2. Nothing beats walking around the neighborhood (we have lots of walkers on our lovely sidewalks) and knowing your neighbors, their kids, their pets and looking out for each other. While we have had our differences, the community is knitting together nicely.

  3. Yes Parklawn is a great place to live, as long as the county or the state do not to something to wreck it, like dropping a DMV bomb.

  4. If your neighborhood is so great why do so many of you not go to Parklawn Pool or Parklawn Elementary. If your neighborhood is so good you would!

    1. I'm not sure what this comment serves to do but harken to the past and not reflect that the community continues to and is moving ahead to support the pool and school. Sure, there are are ups and downs and divergent opinions in our neighborhood. That is what makes this community strong and an interesting place to live.

    2. Did the zoo keeper let Anon 1:07PM out of the moron cage?

      The school boundaries are driven by the County and the School Board not the residents of Parklawn. And the pool is well attended by the residents of Parklawn, however we do have sign at the entry gate of the Pool that morons are not welcome.

      Watch out before we drop a Parklawn house on you and your little dog too.

    3. Typo, the zoo keeper who accidentally let the moron loose meant this rebuttal for Anon 1:49PM and not 1:07PM. What can i say the zoo keeper is a County employee, do I need to say more?

  5. I remember when it was a cow pasture. The cows crossed Braddock Rd to get back to the barn. At milking time they were there at the gate waiting to cross the road. I still live in the area.

  6. In response to Anonymous---I love our home in Parklawn. We don't have kids, and we don't go to the pool for medical reasons. It doesn't make our neighborhood any less wonderful...

    1. Similar for us - don't have kids, and don't care any longer for sitting out in the sun/or swimming (I sure did in my younger days, though!)

      I always see people at the pool during the summer when I go running on the Holmes Run trail, though.

    2. Our kids went to Parklawn Elementary and we all played at the pool. Despite not having kids at home anymore we still support the school. As for the pool, we belong and support all their activities - even though we don't swim. The pool is far more than just a pool.

    3. Parklawn is perfect, except for those who construct additions without permits ... since it eventually brings home prices down. Take a look in the backyard at 4009 Arcadia Rd.

  7. Parklawn is a perfect neighborhood. The pool and the schools are great as well.

  8. We love Parklawn, it is truly like being in a park and a great place to live. Best kept secret in Mason District, I guess until now. What other neighborhood has such a great natural trail on a fish filled stream in its backyard that one can use to walk or bike all the way down to its neighborhood pool, a nature center, into Old Town and beyond?

  9. Have you joined parklawnva/

    A gardening club group has been added.
    Great way to get involved without leaving home.

  10. Must be nice to not have a county owned section 8 housing complex down the street. Not what we had in mind when we moved to Heritage Dr in the 80s. Happpy to hear of a nice neighborhood, makes me jealous.

  11. We've lived here 26 years, and love it.

    My only regret is when people move in and cut down the 60+ year old mature trees.

    The trees are older than they are, and have witnessed every moment.

    Beautiful and treasured.

    It should be a felony IMHO


    1. Many people are ignorant to the value of trees: that these majestic trees protect the environment, clean and keep the air cool, save energy use in the home and increase property values. If the tree is cared for properly, it will survive storms and droughts. The problem are the vulture tree cutters that tell the uninformed that the trees are a danger.

      Consult with a professional arborist first before you cut down a tree.

  12. we've been here for 23 years and the 5 maples on our property were pathetic.
    They had been topped so many times. weak branches, insect damage, you name it. we eventually took them all down, but have planted 10 fruit trees, a conifer, an oak, a red bud, 2 hazelnuts and a serviceberry, in addition to blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, grape vines, and countless herbs.
    The last maple that came down is home to a growing woodpecker family. Flora and fauna in Fairfax county thrives

  13. I did not know that such a nice neighborhood existed in this part of Mason. Thanks for the spotlight post, I must drive around this place to see for myself how lovely it is. Its nice to see that we have an oasis in Mason District and that it not all a dump which some of these bloggers suggest in other posts.

  14. I agree it is a nice neighborhood. Unfortunately the community does not support Parklawn Elementary School. The PTA is pretty much non-existent, which is a big reason why the school rates in the LOWER 20% of all schools in the state of VA. I mean, there are more people posting here than actually are members of the PTA!! Unbelievable. I bring this up because if you want to say Parklawn is a great place to live, then you need to help make this school better. If I were a buyer, I would look up Parklawn Elementary on a site like Schooldigger and would find another place to bring my children up given how bad the ratings are.

    1. Anonymous seems to possess limited knowledge about both our community and our school. In 2016 Parklawn PTA was recognized by Virginia PTA for the success of its membership drive. And for several years the PTA has sponsored many events and initiatives for families whose children attend the school and the larger community: movie nights, a pancake breakfast, outings to restaurants and sporting events, the ever-popular bingo night, etc. PTA also gives back to the school by providing grants for teachers, donating books to the library, sponsoring a spelling bee and after school programming. Test scores are a single indicator and Parklawn's scores, which for some serve as a proxy for a so-called quality rating, are similar to scores reported by other schools in our pyramid. Prospective parents would be wise to do more than look to the Internet only when choosing a school - talk to parents of current students, visit the school, meet the teachers and staff.

  15. Our wonderful Parklawn community is about to be negatively impacted. Fairfax County wants to move the Bailey's Crossroads homeless shelter to the Lincolnia Senior Center site at 4710 N Chambliss. The reason for doing so is to make a corrupt land deal work for Penny Gross' and Sharon Bulova's biggest capmaign contributors. Check out two recent articles in this publication: "Lincolnia residents oppose homeless shelter next door" and "County officials respond to concerns about Lincolnia homeless shelter"-- read the comments sections, too. Also, please check out our website:

  16. If you don't want your neighborhood trashed early next year, please be vocal, sign the stoptheshelter2016 petition on Hold Penny Gross accountable for her corrupt land deal with Avalon Bay at the expense of our neighborhood and the senior citizens at the Lincolnia Senior Center.