Monday, March 14, 2011

I would like to take you to Fairlington

Fairlington is well-documented, not only on its historical marker signs, but HERE and HERE and HERE, thanks to dedicated residents who really love this historic community.

So, I'll focus on my perceptions, as a (transitory) resident.I've been planning to write about Fairlington for a while; as is often the case with something close to home, I finally will, now that my time here is drawing to a close and I've learned a little more about this epic 1940s planned community by living here for eight months. I inhabit a small top-floor bedroom in a three-story brick townhouse. I call it the baby's room; envisioning the young families moving to the area at the onset of WWII, it's the only bedroom beside the master. It is a cozy perch from which to work, with two windows and the constant white noise of I-395. I can check the traffic in a glance while sitting at my desk. Fairlington is equidistant from Old Town Alexandria and the District. I can drive into the District in less than ten minutes, depending on traffic, and bike there in about 45 minutes via the excellent trail network that converges on Shirlington. Good restaurants abound in Shirlington, as well as my favorite local paper shop, and groceries and post offices are within a ten minute walk here and on King Street. The neighborhood has a friendly, relaxed which is nowhere more apparent than strolling above 11 lanes of highway on the Abingdon Street Bridge.
Noted architects Franzheim and Mills used high-quality materials, employed architetural variety and got the traditional details right.
Two schools, a fire station, and a church in matching neo-colonial red brick and white trim round out the 3500 dwellings in the Fairlington community.
Fairlington's homes, in almost thirty different varieties, are built on the hills, on either side of 395. The high-density mixed-use development at Shirlington is in the distance, across 395 (photo above). The architects took advantage of the topography to maximize capacity and dwelling entrances. Take your eyes from the house at right (above) to house at right (below, same house) It's a two-story duplex townhouse. Walk down the steps to the left and another dwelling occupies the basement. A duplex cottage is attached at the rear. Below the cottage, another entrance from the side. That's one building, about six units. But it does not look like a typical 6-unit apartment building at all.Traditional townhouses moulded to the landscape. It is seldom that the front door actually fronts the street to which it is addressed which makes for interesting directions when inviting friends over to your house. My door fronts a lovely wooded path (above)

I would not have been inclined to choose a home that did not have a proper street address or a neighborhood whose street network was so circuitous and "suburban." But my first impression was lots of big leafy trees and well-designed dwellings. I've enjoyed calling Fairlington home for the curiosity of its era, 1940s wartime, as well as it location. The whir of helicopters so common over Fairlington is a result of its proximity to the Pentagon and a reminder of its origins as WWII Defense Housing.
Enjoy the "Reminiscences" of older folks who called Fairlington home throughout the decades.

1 comment:

Brenda Sparenborg said...

Thanks for the tour of your neighborhood! It does look lovely!