Ravenwood Park is a vibrant community of 257 homes nested in a beautiful, verdant setting in Falls Church, Virginia. Since its establishment in the late 1950s, Ravenwood Park has been an active community whose residents care and are involved in their neighborhood. Block parties and social events, programs that provide important information, organized and impromptu efforts to support and help each other, Neighborhood Watch, charitable activities, and shared commitment to keep the neighborhood and area beautiful are all hallmarks of a place that is a great one in which to live.

If you live here, we're so glad you do! If you are visiting, welcome and please come again! If you are thinking about coming here, please do and contact us to find out more!

Great things are happening in Ravenwood Park! And we'll be all the greater if you are a part of it!

- Christopher Bell, President, Ravenwood Park Citizens Association

A Short History of Ravenwood Park

By Mark Doehnert, Anneliese Drive

The original residents of the area where Ravenwood Park is located were the Necostin tribe of the Piscataway Indians. Many artifacts were found near the Powhatan Springs (5960 Wilson Blvd., Arlington), named for the Indian Chief Powhatan. Then English and Scottish settlers began to arrive, and by the late 1670s all Indians had been removed to lands elsewhere. Munson Hill, off Route 7 near Nevius Street and Rio Drive, was first known as Pendennis, which is an English-Scottish word meaning "headland of the fort."

Seven Corners, once known as Payne's Corners, had long been a meeting place, with an inn called Ordinary there in the early 1800s and then Taylor's Tavern. Munson Hill Farm was a large tract between what is now Bailey's Crossroads and Seven Corners. It was settled and developed during the early 1700s. One of the early land owners was John Alexander, for whom Alexandria, VA, is named. Another early land owner was Gabriel Adams, and one of his descendents, William Adams, built a home called Church Hill at Munson Hill around 1750. The Adams house was the place where the Washington, DC, areas's Methodist Church had its beginnings. The old Adams Family home "Church Hill" was torn down in 1964 to build the Lafayette Park Condominiums. The family cemetery was reportedly where J.E.B. Stuart High School stands.

J.E.B. Stuart High School, named after the famous Confederate Cavalry leader J.E.B. Stuart, was established in 1959. Lake Barcroft came into being in 1915 as a water supply for the City of Alexandria.

At 3236 Peace Valley Lane, adjacent to Lafayette Park Condominiums, a house stood for over 100 years. The land was traced back to the William Payne family, influential people in early Fairfax County. Thurlow White, owner of the property in the early 1900s, is claimed to have been an arborist/landscape designer for Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, Washington, DC. A Naval Admiral, Rear Admiral Bradford Bartlett, owned and lived in the house in the 1950s to the time of his death. It was razed in 2010.

Columbia Pike was constructed as a toll road in 1808, and was then called the Washington Graveled Road. Leesburg Pike was built in the early 1800s and was originally called the Alexandria-Leesburg Turnpike. Timothy Munson bought land in 1851 and gave his name to the farm.

During the Civil War both Munson Hill and Bailey's Crossroads were scenes of action. At the time of the Civil War, Munson Hill was high enough that one could see both the dome of the U.S. Capitol as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. At the beginning of the war Bailey's Crossroads was a Union Army camp. At the same time the Confederate Armly occupied Munson Hill under General J.E.B. Stuart early in the war, Federal troops built Fort Buffalo at the present site of Seven Corners, and it became one of the ring of forts protecting the District of Columbia in 1861. At about that time Bailey's Crossroads was the site of the largest military review ever held anywhere. General McClellan reviewed 75,000 troops, and President Lincoln was among the additional 75,000 spectators who came to watch the Army of the Potomac's vast parade. Another witness to the review was Julia Ward Howe, and what she saw inspired her to write the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Bailey's Crossroads is named for the Baileys, a circus-owning family whose menagerie and shows were merged with those of P.T. Barnum about 1870. The Barnum and Bailey Circus was then billed as, "The Greatest Show on Earth." For many years Bailey's Crossroads was its winter quarters.

Ravenwood Park was first constructed in the 1950s by Coffman and McCaffery, Inc. An early advertisement brochure lists them as building "many of Arlington's better homes and a reputation for quality." The homes were described as the "Forty Niner," a rambler for forty-nine feet long, and the "Bi-level" colonial.

Seven Corners was the first mall built in northern Virginia's Fairfax County in the mid-1950s. Garfinckel's and the Woodward and Lothrop had stores there. The mall was enclosed in the 1960s. The Garfinckel's store closed in 1990. Lord and Taylor, now the location of the Sears stor, opened a store across from the Seven Corners mall in 1965 and closed it in 1992.

Credits: Elephants and Quaker Guns by Jane Chapman Whitt, 1984; Fairfax County, Virginia: A History by Nan Netherton, et al, 1992; Internet sites: Fairfax County, Lake Barcroft and Wikipedia; Ravenwood Park brochure courtesy of Robert Finley, a prior Ravenwood Park resident. Carol Turner, Ravenwood Park resident, also contributed.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mark
    Good history of the area. Of you ever update it could you correct the spelling of my family name - it's McCaffrey. Also, Coffman and McCaffrey built 182 homes in Ravenswood Park - the remainder were referred to as "White's addition" after Sargent White who either owned or built that section. I grew up on Sargent Drive which my father developed and named after the first name of Mr. White.
    Thanks! Mary Ann McCaffrey Barbee