Ball-Sellers House

Ball-Sellers House The Ball-Sellers House (c.1742), built by John Ball, is the oldest house in Arlington County, VA

Arlington Historical Society
04/19/2020

Arlington Historical Society

On This Day in Arlington History: April 19, 1974 AHS first receives letter from Marian (Rhinehart) Sellers offering to donate her property at 5620 Third Street, South to the Society. By this time next year (1975) the keys to the 1750 cabin with the 1880s addition will be in AHS hands for $1.

William and Julia Powell owners of the property from 1920-1969 raised Marian after her parents were killed in a car accident. Marian married George Sellers—the boy next door. When Uncle Will passed away and left her the house, she already had a house in Vienna, VA where she served as deputy and later town clerk. She tried renting out the historic home, but found that renting was difficult as far as maintenance and care of the yard was concerned. She was afraid that if she sold it, a developer would tear it down to build multiple houses and we would lose a rich heritage.

Thus, the 1974 letter that so surprised the Society, “My client, Mrs. Marian Sellers, wishes to give the Arlignton Historical Society one of Arlington’s oldest houses.” Marian watched with pride as the Society preserved and has shown the house to thousands of people. She died in 2001.

(Photo Marian Rhinehart Sellers Wallace and daughter Janet and son, James at the ceremony to turn over the keys to the oldest house in Arlington to AHS in 1975)

The Ball-Sellers House will be closed through Memorial Day.Due to the coronavirus threat, AHS is adhering to state requi...
04/10/2020
Arlington Historical Society

The Ball-Sellers House will be closed through Memorial Day.

Due to the coronavirus threat, AHS is adhering to state requirements to close non-essential services. AHS has posted on its website virtual tours, dozens of local history related videos--including three about the Ball-Sellers House--and contents from the decades of original articles published in the annual Arlington Historical Magazine. Please visit us there. We will update this notice if it changes.

Thank you.
-- The Arlington Historical Society
https://arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org

Virtual Exhibit: Crepe Upon the Doors: Epidemics in Arlington County AnnetteApril 4, 2020 Today, battling Corona Virus, the government asks Arlingtonians to shutter businesses, cultural facilities, and schools and requests reside... Read More... 1901-1939ExhibitsHealthMedicinePeople0 Comments0 views

Document Historic Arlington: The Ball-Sellers House (2019)
04/04/2020
Document Historic Arlington: The Ball-Sellers House (2019)

Document Historic Arlington: The Ball-Sellers House (2019)

The Ball-Sellers House is Arlington Virginias oldest house. Built in the 1740s by a farmer, it is a rare example of a middle class colonial dwelling. By some miracle, it has survived for over 270 y…

On this day in Arlington history, March 28, 1899: The Washington Evening Times advertises (see image of ad below) that a...
03/27/2020

On this day in Arlington history, March 28, 1899: The Washington Evening Times advertises (see image of ad below) that an 8-room house with attic, cellar, chicken house with fruit trees and good water source on a lot in Glencarlyn that is 150 X125 feet is available to rent for $150 per year. Anybody else wonder if this house is what we now know as the Ball-Sellers House?

In 1899, the house was owned by entrepreneurs Burdett and Curtis. They were renting the house to people waiting to move into their newly built homes in the GlenCarlyn cooperative. Can we tell tell what the address is from this ad? (Alas, I cannot)

So did what we now know as the Ball-Sellers House have 8 rooms? (4 in the original house if you count the cellar plus 4 in the 1880s section)
Did it have an attic? Yes, both section did, the original section has a bigger one
Did it have a cellar? yes in the original part
Did it have fruit trees? So we are told
Did it have a chicken house? yes, still does, although it's used as a shed now
Did it have a good water source? so we understand
What was the lot size in 1899? We'll have to go to the historical insurance maps to be sure.

Could be BUT we don't know how many other houses fit this description.

The only thing that leans in the BSH direction is that we know it WAS being rented out. we even know some of the names of people who rented it before it was finally sold in 1911.

If you just joined a coop and had a house built for you and your family, would you want to rent it out?

A thought provoking history question...

03/15/2020

The Ball-Sellers House will not be opening for the season on Saturday, April 4. We will remain closed at least through Saturday, April 11.

Due to the coronavirus, AHS is adhering to county guidance and following the actions of the Arlington public school system. We will update this notice if it changes.

Thank you.
-- The Arlington Historical Society

A huge "Thank You!" to Alexis Steen and the team of gardeners she brought in to spruce up the Ball-Sellers House yard.  ...
02/28/2020

A huge "Thank You!" to Alexis Steen and the team of gardeners she brought in to spruce up the Ball-Sellers House yard. The borders around the gardens were expanded and defined. A truck load of mulch was spread. They put lots of care into getting us ready for springtime. It looks great!

HI, Ball-Sellers House fans! We are planning our 2020 season. If you have ideas about events you'd like to see at the Ba...
02/25/2020

HI, Ball-Sellers House fans!
We are planning our 2020 season. If you have ideas about events you'd like to see at the Ball-Sellers House this season please let us know!

Our season opening day in April 4th and we will be open every Saturday from 1-4 pm with free docent-led tours. BUT we like to be different and have events outside of normal open hours, too!

Let us know what kind of events you'd like to see!

-- the Ball-Sellers House Committee of the Arlington Historical Society

Arlington Historical Society
10/24/2019

Arlington Historical Society

This Saturday is the last Saturday of the season to tour the Ball-Sellers House. The oldest building in Arlington County offers free tours from 1-4 pm from April through October but is closed in the winter. The Arlington Historical Society refurbished it to the era it was built in, the 1740s, so it has no heat and no electricity. But stepping into the house transports you back in time.

See how the family of John Ball, including 5 daughters, lived in the colonial era.

5620 3rd Street, south

See you there!

The rain garden got a much-needed haircut, weeding, and mulching.  The cats approve. Thank you one million times to our ...
10/12/2019

The rain garden got a much-needed haircut, weeding, and mulching. The cats approve. Thank you one million times to our new volunteer gardener Alexis! It looks great.

10/05/2019

Sandy Newton demonstrates the process of spinning flax.

Our Flax-to-Fabric demo, with reenactor Sandy Newton. Sandy demonstrated the process of breaking and spinning flax, and ...
10/05/2019

Our Flax-to-Fabric demo, with reenactor Sandy Newton. Sandy demonstrated the process of breaking and spinning flax, and then our AFAC gardener Mary Resnick demonstrating some natural textile dyes. Mark, Ken and Debbie helped us with set up and tours.

The AFAC Garden at the Ball-Sellers House will be open for tours. And so will the Ball-Sellers House Noon-4. At 1:00 San...
09/25/2019
Arlington urban-agriculture gardens to be open to public

The AFAC Garden at the Ball-Sellers House will be open for tours. And so will the Ball-Sellers House Noon-4. At 1:00 Sandy Henderson, reenactor at Mt. Vernon, will demonstrate how colonial Virginians made fabric from flax.

Several Arlington gardens will be open to the public during Urban Agriculture Month in October.

What a fabulous author's event this afternoon. More than 40 people  visited the Ball-Sellers House today to hear Libby M...
09/22/2019

What a fabulous author's event this afternoon. More than 40 people visited the Ball-Sellers House today to hear Libby MacNamee talk about her book "Susanna's Midnight Ride."

Thank you Libby for driving all the way up from Richmond to spend the afternoon with us at the Ball-Sellers House.

Thank you everyone who came and just importantly, the team of people: Lois, Margaret, Mark, and Tracy, who helped make it happen.

If you attended, let us know. Share you photos and tell us what you thought about the book talk!

We are almost ready for our author event featuring Libby Carty McNamee, creator of "Suzanna's Midnight Ride."  Starts at...
09/22/2019

We are almost ready for our author event featuring Libby Carty McNamee, creator of "Suzanna's Midnight Ride." Starts at 2pm!

Photos of the house at dawn ❤
09/03/2019

Photos of the house at dawn ❤

08/17/2019

The Ball-Sellers House is closed on Saturday, Aug 17th due to excessive heat and likely thunderstorms. Please come see us next Saturday. Until then you can visit the Arlington Historical Society indoor booth at the Arlington County Fair.

It was a great day in the life of the oldest house in Arlington.  This morning, descendants of Moses Ball who had a land...
08/10/2019

It was a great day in the life of the oldest house in Arlington. This morning, descendants of Moses Ball who had a land grant just south of that owned by John Ball came up from Richmond and Mechanicsville, VA to see the house and other Ball historic sites. It was great to connect them with their roots! They are wearing the Ball Crest on their T-shirts. They make all our efforts to preserve and share the house worth it!!

08/03/2019

Great day at Ball-Sellers House today. It was hot and the occasional breeze was nice but our many guests were even nicer. Great questions! So glad you came by for the free tour and walk through history.

The Ball-Sellers House is open for free tours today until 4. Step back in time at the oldest building in Arlington count...
08/03/2019

The Ball-Sellers House is open for free tours today until 4. Step back in time at the oldest building in Arlington county.

07/22/2019

Volunteers catalogued 36 Field Site (FS) artifact containers this weekend. That's 20% of them BUT as our archaeologist reminds us, the deeper we went into the archaeological site, the more artifacts we found. We're having fun remembering when we pulled some of the cooler artifacts out of the ground and we're happy to have new volunteers pick up the gauntlet of documenting our treasures. More next Saturday! Want to help? email us: [email protected]

The Ball-Sellers House will not be open this Saturday afternoon July 20 (1-4 pm). It's going to be 100+ degrees and beca...
07/17/2019

The Ball-Sellers House will not be open this Saturday afternoon July 20 (1-4 pm). It's going to be 100+ degrees and because we are a colonial era house, we have no electricity or air conditioning. Check back for next weekend. If you want a special tour for your group, please email us at: [email protected]

Arlington Historical Society
07/17/2019

Arlington Historical Society

On this day in Arlington history: July 17, 1975, the Ball-Sellers House is named to the National Register of Historic Places. Built in the 1740s by John Ball, its last private owner Marian Rhinehart Sellers donated the house to the Arlington Historical Society with the agreement that it be preserved and open to the public free of charge. Today you can visit the house free of charge every Saturday (April through October) from 1-4 pm. A docent-led tour offers you a look at how colonial farmers really lived and a history of Arlington through the experiences of the people who lived there.
(Image: Marian Sellers (left) talks with Donald Orth, President of the Arlington Historical Society (2nd from left) and county board members at the ceremony presenting AHS with the keys to the house in 1975.)

Interested in documenting the archaeological artifacts unearthed in the Ball-Sellers House archaeological dig? We are st...
07/17/2019

Interested in documenting the archaeological artifacts unearthed in the Ball-Sellers House archaeological dig? We are starting the final phase of documenting what we found. If you'd like to help out e-mail [email protected] or [email protected] to learn more. NO experience necessary.

07/09/2019

The Ball-Sellers House is fine. Our caretaker, Margaret, reports that the sump pump was working hard and kept the basement of the original 1740s house from flooding. The doors blew open in both sheds and rain got it. a lot of mulch washed away. But the house remains sound.

Mr. Grass says even though it is heckin hot outside, we are still open until 4pm, and you should come visit us.
06/29/2019

Mr. Grass says even though it is heckin hot outside, we are still open until 4pm, and you should come visit us.

Arlington Historical Society
06/26/2019

Arlington Historical Society

On this day in Arlington history, June 26, 1791: While surveying northern Virginia--and the area that will eventually become Arlington County--to determine the boundaries of Washington City, the new US capital, Andrew Ellicott comments disparagingly on the area's overwhelmingly rural nature. He writes to his wife, Sally from their "Surveyors Camp, State of Virginia" that “The country through which we are now cutting one of the ten-mile lines is very poor; I think for near seven miles on it there is not one House that has any floor except the earth.”

(Apparently he missed John Ball’s house—by now, occupied by his widow, Elizabeth. The Balls had not only a floor but a root cellar and loft—all of which you can still see today at 5620 Third Street, South).

Ellicott goes on to write to his wife, “Labouring Hands in this Country can scarcely be had at any rate: my estimate was twenty; but I have to wade slowly thro’ with six… As the President is so much attached to this country, I would not be willing that he should know my real sentiments about it.”

The Ball-Sellers House caretaker Margaret has been caring for the property in a lot of ways. She has been regularly trim...
06/08/2019

The Ball-Sellers House caretaker Margaret has been caring for the property in a lot of ways. She has been regularly trimming the wisteria so it does not invade the shingles and shutters. She also has the nicest flower and herb gardens around the house. And she replaced the street numbers 5620 on the house after the painters left so visitors will know that THIS IS THE PLACE! To name but a few of the ways she helps the historic house look great. Thank you Margaret!!!

Volunteers and docents walked in the Glencarlyn Day parade today. We had fun! Thank you Nancy, Katherine, Seth, Mark, Ma...
06/08/2019

Volunteers and docents walked in the Glencarlyn Day parade today. We had fun! Thank you Nancy, Katherine, Seth, Mark, Margaret, Annette, Deb, and Lois!!

Arlington Historical Society
05/26/2019

Arlington Historical Society

On this day in Arlington history: May 26, 1746: Moses Ball acquires a land grant of 91 acres in what will become the Glencarlyn neighborhood of Arlington. Lord Fairfax, just 4 years into setting up the new county of Fairfax, is encouraging families to settle and he is providing land grants from the King with affordable contracts. ��Moses' land is adjacent to his older brother, John's to the north, Simon Pearson's to the south, Stephen Gray's to the east and Thomas Pearson to the west. (see map) John's house still stands at 5620 3rd St., S and is open to the public Saturdays Apr-Oct.��The first of Moses and his wife, Anne's 6 sons (John) and 2 daughters is born on the property in 1746. George Washington will buy property south of Moses' land in 1775 and when Washington returns from commanding troops in the Revolutionary war, Moses will help him survey his land in 1785. George Washington's Journal mentions Moses and the survey trip. (see photo)

The Ball-Sellers House is open for free tours today and every Saturday through October from 1-4 pm. An experienced and k...
05/25/2019

The Ball-Sellers House is open for free tours today and every Saturday through October from 1-4 pm. An experienced and knowledgeable docent will show you this rare treasure of an historic house built in the 1740s and take you on a trip through Arlington history in this unique time capsule.

On this day in the life of the oldest house in Arlington: May 19, 1891: William B. Powell is born at Bailey’s Crossroads...
05/19/2019

On this day in the life of the oldest house in Arlington: May 19, 1891: William B. Powell is born at Bailey’s Crossroads. Bill will grow up on a farm on Carlin Springs Road near Columbia Pike, where townhouses now stand (see picture below of Bill Powell with his family at his old homestead on Carlin Springs Road). After serving in the US Army in World War I, he will work at the Navy Yard and meet a pretty Navy Yeomanette named Julia Rhinehart who will live with a cousin on Third Street South in the Glencarlyn neighborhood.

When Bill marries Julia, he will buy an old house first built by a John Ball in the 1750s just down the street from Julia's home. It will be their home for 49 years and he and Julia will be the last owners to live in this house. They will raise Julia's orphaned niece, Marion, in this house at 5620 3rd. St. South and when Bill passes away in 1969 he will bequeath it to his niece. Bill is buried in Arlington National Cemetery: Plot: 31, 0, 5704.

Marion (Rhinehart) Sellers will try renting int out. But by then, she will be living with her husband and family in Vienna, VA and will decide she doesn't really need another house. She will have learned from her uncle and aunt how old it is and how rare So in 1975, Marion Sellers will give it to the Arlington Historical Society (AHS). It will become the Ball-Sellers House.

William worked at the Navy Yard and Julia at the Commerce Department. They rode the trolley into D.C. to work and come back at night to the garden and chickens they loved so well. William had a big garden full of vegetables and a smaller one at the lower end of the yard. Julia grew dahlias, six and seven feet tall, and big as dinner plates. The combination chicken coop and privy was an ingenious building. The chicken coop part was in the south east corner of the fenced yard, so only a gate was needed to make a small chicken yard between the coop and the fence. The privy part was on the opposite side of the little building and a “right far piece” from the house, especially at night. The Powells also had a number of apple trees, so there were always fresh vegetables and fruits.

They used John Ball's original cabin built in the 1750s as their kitchen. A ladder provided access to the loft they used for storage and the lean to had an icebox and served as a pantry. You can see the cabinrestored now to how it may have looked in the 1750s and on any Saturday afternoon from April through October, a docent will be happy to show you the loft, lean to, and chicken coop/privy.

Thank you Mr. Powell for not tearing the cabin section down and treating it so well so that your niece could donate it to AHS

The Ball-Sellers House is open for free tours today and every Saturday through October from 1-4 pm. An experienced and k...
05/18/2019

The Ball-Sellers House is open for free tours today and every Saturday through October from 1-4 pm. An experienced and knowledgeable docent will show you this rare treasure of an historic house built in the 1740s and take you on a trip through Arlington history in this unique time capsule.

We had a great turn out for the George Washington's Forest History Walk last Saturday. The rain held off until about 3:3...
05/13/2019

We had a great turn out for the George Washington's Forest History Walk last Saturday. The rain held off until about 3:30. Did you go? What did you think? Let us know!

Address

5620 3rd St S
Arlington, VA
22204

Opening Hours

Saturday 13:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(703) 577-7042

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