Arlington Historical Society

Arlington Historical Society Our mission is to help strengthen our community through a better understanding of its history.
The Arlington Historical Society, founded in 1956, is a non-profit organization. We have two museums--the Arlington Historical Museum and the Ball-Sellers House Museum--that are open free to the public. We sponsor monthly programs, publish the annual Arlington Historical Magazine with original research on Arlington and Northern Virginia history, and an annual high school essay contest. We also bring history into the community at events throughout the year.

The Arlington Historical Society's goal is to help strengthen our community through a better understanding of our history. We do that in many ways: a key one is to promote awareness of Arlington history through two museums, monthly public presentations, and community outreach. The Arlington Historical Museum is located at 1805 South Arlington Ridge Road at the former Hume School. Built in 1891, it is the oldest school building in Arlington. You can walk through Arlington history on a self-guided tour from Native Americans through 9/11. Free. The museum is open to every Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 pm and every FIRST and THIRD Wednesdays of every month, also 1-4 pm. The Ball Sellers House Museum is at 5620 3rd Street South in Arlington. You can step back through time to see how middle-class farmers lived in the Colonial era. Knowledgeable docents provide interactive free tours to the public. It is open Saturdays 1:00-4:00 from April through October and Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Built in the 1740s, this is Arlington's oldest building. We welcome group tours at both our museums during regular hours or at your convenience and can tailor the experience to your interests. Please contact us for more information.

Mission: The Arlington Historical Society supports historical research, collects and preserves Arlington historical artifacts, and promote learning about the history of Arlington County, Virginia

On this day in Arlington history, June 26, 1791: While surveying northern Virginia--and the area that will eventually be...
06/26/2019

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.”

On this day in Arlington history, June 25, 1788: Virginia becomes the 10th state after ratifying the new US Constitution...
06/25/2019

On this day in Arlington history, June 25, 1788: Virginia becomes the 10th state after ratifying the new US Constitution. The land that is now Arlington County was then still part of Fairfax County and had less than 1000 men, women, and children to cheer about it. The news won’t reach them from Richmond for a few more days. Fairfax County’s two representatives to the Virginia convention were Charles Simms and James Stuart. They both vote “Aye.”

On this day in Arlington history: June 21, 1921: Bob May and his wife start Arlington's first bus service consisting of ...
06/21/2019

On this day in Arlington history: June 21, 1921: Bob May and his wife start Arlington's first bus service consisting of one bus and one driver: Mr. May, operating between their home in Barcroft and Washington, DC. It was known as the Columbia Pike Bus Line, and the first Barcroft-to-Washington trip was made June 21, 1921. In 1924 service from Washington to Alexandria was added and the line became the AB&W Rapid Transit Company.

On this day in Arlington history, June 20: 1941: The Virginia Sun urges men to volunteer for the Protective Force in pre...
06/20/2019

On this day in Arlington history, June 20: 1941: The Virginia Sun urges men to volunteer for the Protective Force in preparation for any national emergency. The paper’s editorial reiterated the need by comparing Arlington County participation as a fraction of the men from the much smaller Alexandria City population.

Although the US was not yet at war, Arlington’s civil defense and preparedness activities had already been underway for a while. By late 1940, Virginia had begun to organize militia units called the Virginia Protective Force and a company of 60 men was organized in early 1941 for the Arlington-Fairfax-Alexandria area to guard public utilities and bridges.

These men took the place of the National Guard that had been called into Federal Service. In June 1941, a civilian defense registration plan was being formalized to take a census of skills and availability for use in a possible emergency. The following month, workers with skills and occupations needed for defense industries were registered by the State Employment Service.

Arlington, now inexorably linked to the federal government, understood how important it was for it to be ready to protect the infrastructure surrounding the capital and itself to enable the government to meet any “emergency.” By the time Pearl Harbor was bombed six months later and war was declared, Arlington was well on its way to helping defend America’s war effort.

On this day in Arlington history, June 19, 1742: Fairfax County is established to accommodate the settlers north of the ...
06/19/2019

On this day in Arlington history, June 19, 1742: Fairfax County is established to accommodate the settlers north of the Occoquan—Fairfax County includes all of what is now Arlington County. Previously the Arlington area had been nominally a part of Northumberland County (1648) and Westmoreland County (1663), and effectively a part of Stafford County (1684) and Prince William County (1731). General Assembly of Virginia authorized the formation of Fairfax County from Prince William County. It will be governed by a Lord Fairfax until the Revolutionary War.

On this day in Arlington history, June 18, 1608: Captain John Smith begins a month-long journey up the Potomac and marve...
06/18/2019
First Voyage - Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (U.S. National Park Service)

On this day in Arlington history, June 18, 1608: Captain John Smith begins a month-long journey up the Potomac and marvels at the lands on both sides of the river.
https://www.nps.gov/cajo/learn/historyculture/first-voyage.htm

Captain John Smith led 14 men on his first voyage. In search of a route to the Pacific, the band headed north along today's Eastern Shore then moved to the Western Shore to probe the rivers now called Patapsco, Potomac, and Rappahannock.

Encore Stage & Studio is looking for a diverse group of high school students who are interested in acting, dancing and r...
06/18/2019
Student-Devised Play That Rediscovers African American Voices In Arlington

Encore Stage & Studio is looking for a diverse group of high school students who are interested in acting, dancing and researching local history for its Flip the Script production.

Encore Stage & Studio is looking for a diverse group of high school students who are interested in acting, dancing and researching local history for its Flip the Script production. Theatre is a powerful tool for examining the past and discerning intersections with the present. Encore Stage &a

On this day in Arlington history: June 17, 1975, the Virginia Landmarks Commission places the Ball-Sellers House on the ...
06/17/2019

On this day in Arlington history: June 17, 1975, the Virginia Landmarks Commission places the Ball-Sellers House on the State’s Register of Landmarks. The Virginia Landmarks Register, established in 1966, is managed by the Department of Historic Resources and manages the state’s official list of properties important to Virginia’s history. Structures such as the Ball-Sellers House embody the historical and cultural foundations of the nation.

The Ball-Sellers House is the oldest house in the county. It is owned today by the Arlington Historical Society and is a house museum open free every Saturday 1-4 pm from April through October. Docent-led tours discuss how the house was built, who lived there, and its historical importance to the county and to the country.

On this day in Arlington history June 16, 1940: The Washington Post reports that a new shopping center is planned for th...
06/17/2019
New Arlington Shopping Center Costs $250,000 (1940) - Ghosts of DC

On this day in Arlington history June 16, 1940: The Washington Post reports that a new shopping center is planned for the intersection of Glebe Road and Columbia Pike.

Arlington was growing steadily, and like today, Arlington benefited from being so close to US government jobs. The traffic on Glebe and Columbia mentioned in the article was a fraction of what it is today.

If you live in Arlington, you've probably driven past this place a thousand times. The shopping center we're talking about sits at the intersection of

06/15/2019

TODAY! Saturday, June 15, 2019
The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington
Cordially Invites You to
Founder's Day
a Celebration in Honor of Evelyn Syphax
4-6 pm
3108 Columbia Pike, Arlington
Garden casual attire

On this day in Arlington history: June 15, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln calls for help in protecting Washington, D.C....
06/15/2019
Washington's Civil War Defenses and the Battle of Fort Stevens

On this day in Arlington history: June 15, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln calls for help in protecting Washington, D.C. Troops posted in the forts that ring the city (see map)--particularly those in what will become Arlington--grow anxious as they prepare to move out or increase patrols around the forts.

Throughout June, Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was on the move. He had pulled his army from its position along the Rappahannock River around Fredericksburg, Virginia, and set it on the road to Pennsylvania. Lee and the Confederate leadership decided to try a second invasion of the North to take pressure off Virginia and to seize the initiative against the Army of the Potomac. The first invasion, in September 1862, failed when the Federals fought Lee's army to a standstill at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland.

Lee later divided his army and sent the regiments toward the Shenandoah Valley, using the Blue Ridge Mountains as a screen. After the Confederates took Winchester, Virginia, on June 14, they were situated on the Potomac River, seemingly in a position to move on Washington, D.C. Lincoln did not know it, but Lee had no intention of attacking Washington. All Lincoln knew was that the Rebel army was moving en masse and that Union troops could not be certain as to the Confederates' location.

On June 15, Lincoln put out an emergency call for 100,000 troops from the state militias of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia. Although the troops were not needed, and the call could not be fulfilled in such a short time, it was an indication of how little the Union authorities knew of Lee's movements and how vulnerable they thought the Federal capital was. (Courtesy History.com and Columbia Heights Neighborhood Conservation Plan)
https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/washingtons-civil-war-defenses-and-battle-fort-stevens

TOMORROW! Saturday, June 15, 2019The Black Heritage Museum of ArlingtonCordially Invites You toFounder's Daya Celebratio...
06/14/2019

TOMORROW! Saturday, June 15, 2019
The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington
Cordially Invites You to
Founder's Day
a Celebration in Honor of Evelyn Syphax
4-6 pm
3108 Columbia Pike, Arlington
Garden casual attire

The latest "Our Man in Arlington" column from AHS member and news reporter, Charlie Clark in the "Falls Church News Pres...
06/13/2019
Our Man in Arlington - Falls Church News-Press Online

The latest "Our Man in Arlington" column from AHS member and news reporter, Charlie Clark in the "Falls Church News Press" reveals the secrets of Arlington found in a 1916 telephone directory.

Remember phonebooks? They were a must in the 20th century. Arlington had one as early as 1912, back when it was called Alexandria County. I perused such a directory at Central Library’s Center for Local History and pulled facts that help my ongoing portrait of our, then-officially segregated, home...

TONIGHT!The History of Arlington Through Its Historic DistrictsWith Serena Bolliger and Angelina Jones from the Arlingto...
06/13/2019

TONIGHT!
The History of Arlington Through Its Historic Districts
With Serena Bolliger and Angelina Jones from the Arlington County Preservation Program
Jun 13, 2019
7:00 pm
Reinsch Library Auditorium
Marymount University

Arlington County's Historic Preservation Program will explore the history of Arlington's development through the historic resources preserved using Local Historic District zoning and other planning tools. The presentation will illustrate historic preservation best practices and methods for retaining a sense of place in our rapidly changing urban environment. Attendees will be able to test their own knowledge of Arlington's history in the range of preservation in Arlington.

Serena Bolliger and Angelina Jones from Arlington County Historic Preservation Program are our guest speakers. Serena Bolliger is the Historic Preservation Inspector for the County. Before joining the county program, Ms. Bolliger surveyed historic buildings and restored historic wood windows in Texas (including at the Alamo!) She holds Master’s degrees in Historic Preservation, Sustainable Design in Urban Planning, and Museum Administration. She has assisted on archaeology digs in Rome, Italy, worked on collections at the British Museum, and helped restore historic houses after the hurricane in New Orleans. Angelina Jones is a Historic Preservation Planner for Arlington County. Before joining the county’s program last year, Ms. Jones worked for the National Park Service in Philadelphia, Boston, and most recently in Washington, D.C. specializing in cultural landscape preservation. She has an educational background in landscape architecture, regional planning, and historic preservation.

Arlington’s Local Historic Districts include cemeteries like the 1785-era Ball-Carlin Cemetery in Glencarlyn, community building, commercial buildings such as the Green Valley Pharmacy, Civil War forts, private homes, and even apartment complexes. Our local historic buildings, sites, and neighborhoods capture distinct and irreplaceable aspects of our history and architectural heritage. “Historic district” can be an individual building or a collection of historic buildings, sites, or objects.

The AHS program is free and open to the public. It will be in the Reinsch Library auditorium on the Main Campus of Marymount University. This event is part of a monthly series of public programs sponsored by the Arlington Historical Society and Marymount University’s Department of History and Politics. For more information, please visit www.arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org. Email: [email protected] or call: (703) 892-4204

DRIVING DIRECTIONS and FREE PARKING: Attendees should enter the Marymount University campus at the library gate on N. 26th Street. From Glebe Road going north, take a right onto 26th Street. Pass the intersection with Yorktown Road and then enter the campus through the next gate on your left. The library is to your left as you enter the campus. Free garage parking is just past the library at the bottom of the small incline.

TOMORROW!The History of Arlington Through Its Historic DistrictsWith Serena Bolliger and Angelina Jones from the Arlingt...
06/12/2019

TOMORROW!
The History of Arlington Through Its Historic Districts
With Serena Bolliger and Angelina Jones from the Arlington County Preservation Program
Jun 13, 2019
7:00 pm
Reinsch Library Auditorium
Marymount University

Arlington County's Historic Preservation Program will explore the history of Arlington's development through the historic resources preserved using Local Historic District zoning and other planning tools. The presentation will illustrate historic preservation best practices and methods for retaining a sense of place in our rapidly changing urban environment. Attendees will be able to test their own knowledge of Arlington's history in the range of preservation in Arlington.

Serena Bolliger and Angelina Jones from Arlington County Historic Preservation Program are our guest speakers. Serena Bolliger is the Historic Preservation Inspector for the County. Before joining the county program, Ms. Bolliger surveyed historic buildings and restored historic wood windows in Texas (including at the Alamo!) She holds Master’s degrees in Historic Preservation, Sustainable Design in Urban Planning, and Museum Administration. She has assisted on archaeology digs in Rome, Italy, worked on collections at the British Museum, and helped restore historic houses after the hurricane in New Orleans. Angelina Jones is a Historic Preservation Planner for Arlington County. Before joining the county’s program last year, Ms. Jones worked for the National Park Service in Philadelphia, Boston, and most recently in Washington, D.C. specializing in cultural landscape preservation. She has an educational background in landscape architecture, regional planning, and historic preservation.

Arlington’s Local Historic Districts include cemeteries like the 1785-era Ball-Carlin Cemetery in Glencarlyn, community building, commercial buildings such as the Green Valley Pharmacy, Civil War forts, private homes, and even apartment complexes. Our local historic buildings, sites, and neighborhoods capture distinct and irreplaceable aspects of our history and architectural heritage. “Historic district” can be an individual building or a collection of historic buildings, sites, or objects.

The AHS program is free and open to the public. It will be in the Reinsch Library auditorium on the Main Campus of Marymount University. This event is part of a monthly series of public programs sponsored by the Arlington Historical Society and Marymount University’s Department of History and Politics. For more information, please visit www.arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org. Email: [email protected] or call: (703) 892-4204

DRIVING DIRECTIONS and FREE PARKING: Attendees should enter the Marymount University campus at the library gate on N. 26th Street. From Glebe Road going north, take a right onto 26th Street. Pass the intersection with Yorktown Road and then enter the campus through the next gate on your left. The library is to your left as you enter the campus. Free garage parking is just past the library at the bottom of the small incline.

SAVE THE DATE! Saturday, June 15, 2019The Black Heritage Museum of ArlingtonCordially Invites You toFounder's Daya Celeb...
06/11/2019

SAVE THE DATE! Saturday, June 15, 2019
The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington
Cordially Invites You to
Founder's Day
a Celebration in Honor of Evelyn Syphax
4-6 pm
3108 Columbia Pike, Arlington
Garden casual attire

The History of Arlington Through Its Historic DistrictsWith Serena Bolliger and Angelina Jones from the Arlington County...
06/11/2019

The History of Arlington Through Its Historic Districts
With Serena Bolliger and Angelina Jones from the Arlington County Preservation Program
Jun 13, 2019
7:00 pm
Reinsch Library Auditorium
Marymount University

Arlington County's Historic Preservation Program will explore the history of Arlington's development through the historic resources preserved using Local Historic District zoning and other planning tools. The presentation will illustrate historic preservation best practices and methods for retaining a sense of place in our rapidly changing urban environment. Attendees will be able to test their own knowledge of Arlington's history in the range of preservation in Arlington.

Serena Bolliger and Angelina Jones from Arlington County Historic Preservation Program are our guest speakers. Serena Bolliger is the Historic Preservation Inspector for the County. Before joining the county program, Ms. Bolliger surveyed historic buildings and restored historic wood windows in Texas (including at the Alamo!) She holds Master’s degrees in Historic Preservation, Sustainable Design in Urban Planning, and Museum Administration. She has assisted on archaeology digs in Rome, Italy, worked on collections at the British Museum, and helped restore historic houses after the hurricane in New Orleans. Angelina Jones is a Historic Preservation Planner for Arlington County. Before joining the county’s program last year, Ms. Jones worked for the National Park Service in Philadelphia, Boston, and most recently in Washington, D.C. specializing in cultural landscape preservation. She has an educational background in landscape architecture, regional planning, and historic preservation.

Arlington’s Local Historic Districts include cemeteries like the 1785-era Ball-Carlin Cemetery in Glencarlyn, community building, commercial buildings such as the Green Valley Pharmacy, Civil War forts, private homes, and even apartment complexes. Our local historic buildings, sites, and neighborhoods capture distinct and irreplaceable aspects of our history and architectural heritage. “Historic district” can be an individual building or a collection of historic buildings, sites, or objects.

The AHS program is free and open to the public. It will be in the Reinsch Library auditorium on the Main Campus of Marymount University. This event is part of a monthly series of public programs sponsored by the Arlington Historical Society and Marymount University’s Department of History and Politics. For more information, please visit www.arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org. Email: [email protected] or call: (703) 892-4204

DRIVING DIRECTIONS and FREE PARKING: Attendees should enter the Marymount University campus at the library gate on N. 26th Street. From Glebe Road going north, take a right onto 26th Street. Pass the intersection with Yorktown Road and then enter the campus through the next gate on your left. The library is to your left as you enter the campus. Free garage parking is just past the library at the bottom of the small incline.

Address

1805 S Arlington Ridge Rd
Arlington, VA
22202-1628

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