History

See MBE featured in the "Where We Live" Section of the Washington Post

by Ann Cameron Siegal August 8, 2008
 
 
Broyhill McLean Estates

By Brian Higgins, Nicole Ritchie and Sandy Schaefer

Oral Histories provided by Robert Reid, Louise Gary, Bill Frazer and Sidney Dewberry

Pages 41-47 in “McLean Citizens Association: Anthology of Local Histories”

Compiled by Jan Auerbach, April 2007

  

When Broyhill McLean Estates was built in the late 1950s, milk was still delivered door to door and there was only one stoplight in McLean.[1]  M.T. Broyhill and Sons Corporation built Broyhill McLean Estates and presented it as one of the best really close-in locations in Northern Virginia – ideally situated to take advantage of “new transportation arteries such as the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Circumferential Highway.”[2]  Even then Broyhill foresaw that a climb in home values was destined for this unique locale because of its proximity to “new national institutions such as the mammoth Chantilly Airport and the ‘Little Pentagon’ CIA building.”[3]  Today, Broyhill McLean Estates forms an arc around nearly 25% of the Central Business District and is the only subdivision that fronts McLean’s three major thoroughfares: Dolley Madison Boulevard, Old Dominion Drive, and Chain Bridge Road.  See map.

 

The Land

In the 1950s M. T. Broyhill & Sons purchased Drew Farm for the subdivision. Fred Drew owned a large dairy farm and pastureland that covered the area from the early 1900s.  Mr. Drew’s daughter, Mrs. H.C. Gilpatrick, lived in another home on this estate called Killoran; its entrance was at 7103 Old Dominion Drive, between Rt. 123 and Balls Hill Road.  According to original homeowner Louise Gary, Ray Gilpatrick, who lived in Killoran and attended her church, sold most of his estate which was originally owned by Fred Drew to Mr. Broyhill. In 1961, Ray Gilpatrick sold his remaining 12-acre property, including his large house, to the Dominican Sisters who established the Dominican Retreat.

 
A significant section of the neighborhood north of Rt. 123 was previously known as “the kite hill.”  Before the hill was graded for homes to be built, children would come to fly their kites on the hill.[4] Dead Run drains the subdivision into the Potomac River.  The western branch drains two Evans Farm ponds under Merrimac Drive and around the Retreat House; the eastern branch flows along the eastern property line of Pathfinder lane; and they meet in McLean Central Park.  This serves to remind us that the Potomac watershed extends into our own backyards.

 

Development

Construction began on the first houses of the subdivision in 1957.  Marvin T. Broyhill and his two sons, Marvin, Jr, and Joel, owned the development company.  For some time after World War II, they developed dozens of subdivisions in Arlington and Fairfax and may have been one of the largest home builders in the world – up to 1500 homes per year.[5]  Broyhill & Sons also developed Broyhill Crest, Broyhill Park, and Broyhill-Langley Estates in Fairfax County; Broyhill Forest and Broyhill Hills in Arlington County; and Sterling Park in Loudon County. To provide quick landscaping and shade, the developer planted two silver maples on each lot, one in front and one beside or behind the house.  Various hedges were also planted, especially in front of homes and picture windows.

 
This aerial photo of Broyhill McLean Estates was taken in May 1960 by original homeowner, Robert Reid of Wasp Lane. He noted that today many people compliment our neighborhood for its beautiful tree canopy. However back in 1960, the only trees over 8 feet tall were the pines at Dewberry and Mayflower. This photo is taken facing south.  The long patch of red clay running horizontally across the bottom is now Dolley Madison Blvd. The green field in the upper center is today Lewinsville Park.  Mayflower Drive connects the neighborhood on both sides of Dolley Madison Blvd.
 
On July 22, 1957 M.T. Broyhill Jr. and Joel T. Broyhill signed the Owner’s Dedication for Broyhill McLean Estates. Joel T. Broyhill represented Virginia’s 10th District in Congress from 1952 to 1974.6 Greenhorne, O’Mara, Dewberry & Nealon completed the Civil Engineering and Land Surveying.  The Surveyor’s Certificate was signed by James D. Nealon, Certified Land Surveyor.
 
In 1961, the neighborhood was extended along Hornet Lane and Fern Oak Court. In 1962, a four-lane bypass of the McLean Central Business District was built from Churchill Road to Anderson Road. The road, called Dolley Madison Boulevard, was built in state right-of-way in the original subdivision plats, and bisected the subdivision. The Capital Beltway opened later that year. In the 1980s, Broyhill McLean Estates welcomed new neighbors along Merrimac Drive which was extended with upscale homes.  The shorter street had ended with a pond and swampy land nearby.  Louise Gary recalls that swings and a baseball field had existed where these newer homes were built.

 

 

Home Features

Broyhill McLean Estates was “planned for 250 home sites on curving streets with cul-de-sacs served with all utilities, curbs and gutters with sidewalks on through streets.  Lot sizes average over 12,000 square feet with elevations as high as 340 feet above sea level.”  Early advertisements, like the one featured below, promoted a variety of floor plans including Bi Levels (two levels facing the street), Split Levels (three levels), Ramblers (one of two levels facing the street), and Cape Cods. In 1958, houses sold from $13,500 to the low $20,000s
 
These well-built homes featured Interior Décor by Colony House and modern General Electric Kitchens in mix-or-match colors with dishwashers and metal cabinets.  Some innovative or, as some may say, experimental architecture options were available like the USS Steelstyle models featuring steel studs, steel doors, and steel framed windows from United States Steel Homes Division.  Today’s residents still tell stories of the innovative ways they have to find to hang pictures on their walls because they cannot nail into steel studs.  Combine the steel framed homes with the metal kitchen cabinets, now back in vogue, and this must have been a fireman’s dream community.
 
Prices increased significantly during the life of the subdivision due to its prime location, quality of homes and lifestyle, home improvements and additions, and numerous other factors. Between 1979 and 2007, while the Consumer Price Index increased by 2.8 times (203.5/72.6), the assessed value of a typical home increased by nearly 9 times, land by 15 times ($20,000 to $300,000 per quarter acre) and improvements by 5 to 10 times.

 

Street Names

 
All but one street in the subdivision is named after a sailing ship, warship, or yacht.  Marvin T. Broyhill, Jr. loved boats and suggested the names, according to Mr. Sidney O. Dewberry, the Civil Engineer who designed the subdivision and for whom Dewberry Court is named.  Audmar is named after M.T. Broyhill’s own yacht which is taken from the first three letters of his and his wife’s first names: Audrey and Marvin Broyhill.  The Enterprise, Merrimac, Monitor, and Wasp were ships in the US Navy.  The Statendam and Homeric were cruise ships.  The Santa Maria and the Nina were two of the three ships Christopher Columbus led when he discovered America.  And, of course, there is the Mayflower.  In 1959, Charles Gary, original owner (wife Louise) of 7024 Santa Maria Court, suggested that it would be fitting for the residents from Santa Maria and nearby Nina and Mayflower to host a block party on Columbus Day.  While not always on Columbus Day, the tradition of the block party continues today!

 

Residents

 
Original homeowner Robert Reid recalls McLean still had a rural Virginia feel with local lawnmower and bicycle repair shops.  There were three times as many gas stations than today but you had to trek to Lee Highway in Arlington to find a restaurant.  Local entertainment might include a visit to the horse shows in a muddy pasture where Tyson’s Holiday Inn now sits, or a visit to the movie theater or bowling alley where Balducci’s is today.  But the real fun was in your own backyard. Since there was no central air conditioning at that time, hot summer evenings were spent out in the yard grilling and socializing with neighbors.  Often neighbors would stroll down to the local grocery store where you might run into politicians who would eagerly great you with “Let me tell you what’s been happenin’ up on the hill today.”  Bridge was a popular social indoor activity.
 
Original homeowners were mainly World War II and Korean War veterans, many with GI Bill college educations, and their families, the “Baby Boomers.”  Like the rest of Northern Virginia and Fairfax County, they represented the influx of population that followed the vast expansion of the Federal government and provided workers for all levels of government, technology, goods, services, and public and private schools.7   Many residents today are professional doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, realtors, and business people.  Others work in retail in McLean and Tysons.  Others are employees or retirees of the Departments of Defense, State, and Transportation, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Foreign Service, Agency for International Development (AID), World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Foreign Embassies and Military Missions.

 

Civic Association

Originally founded in 1959, the Broyhill McLean Estates Civic Association (MECA) was created to spearhead the founding of the non-profit McLean Swim and Tennis Association (MSTA). The neighborhood and association were instrumental in establishing this as one of the first community pools in Fairfax County.  McLean Swimming and Tennis Association is a community-based non-profit recreational and social organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.  MSTA is located on a four-acre site at 1700 Margie Drive in McLean (adjacent to McLean High School) near Great Falls Street.

 
In 1985 Lynn and Peggy McNulty led the re-establishment of the association, which had become inactive. The couple alternated as President for many years. A revised Constitution and By-Laws were approved on May 5, 1987. The association sponsored block parties, community events, and community activism.  Significant events included celebrations to honor original homeowners. Over 100 residents met at the Dominican Retreat House to honor seventy-one original homeowners on May 4, 1988 (51 were able to attend).  In 1997, an “Almost Forty Celebration” at Evans Farm Inn was held and honored 55 original owners (25 were able to attend).  With the 50th Anniversary of Broyhill McLean Estates approaching in the summer of 2007, approximately 30 original residents still live in the neighborhood. 
 
By the late 1990s, the civic association, which is now referred to as McLean Broyhill Estates (MBE) Civic Association, was called upon by the neighborhood to lead the fight against development of Evan’s Farm. For many years residents benefited from the adjacent Evans Farm Inn, opened in 1959, with Sitting Duck Pub, Mill, antiques store, doll shop, pond, vegetable fields, geese, ducks, farm animals, and old farm equipment. Turkey vultures roosted in the oak trees in front of Evans Farm. While many in the McLean community wished to reverse sale of the property for development in favor of parkland in the late 1990s, the MBE Civic Association took a more pragmatic approach and tried to convince developers and politicians to at least respect the current zoning law on the books of three houses per acre to maintain the community feel. Unfortunately this did not happen but the association was able to secure a sidewalk to connect the two neighborhoods.8
 
Today MBE Civic Association continues to keep neighbors aware of local activities and developments; it also hosts neighborhood block parties, Halloween parades, caroling, home tours, social hours, a website and more, all in the spirit of continuing neighborhood unity and pride.  The MBE Civic Association strives to maintain that classic notion of neighborhood. Nearly 50 years after its inception, Broyhill McLean Estates remains not only an ideal location for living and commuting but an ideal place for those seeking a spirit of neighborly community.

 

Endnotes



[1] Robert Reid, Original Home Owner, Oral History

[2] Broyhill McLean Estates Sales Brochure 1959

[3] Broyhill McLean Estates Sales Brochure 1959

[4] Louise Gary, Original Home Owner, Oral History

[5] Sidney Dewberry, Civil Engineer of Broyhill McLean Estates

6 Broyhill, M. T. & Sons, July 25, 1957.  “Deed of Dedication and Resubdivision, Broyhill’s McLean Estates,” Fairfax County Deed Book 1575, Pages 546-555.

7 Netherton, Nan, Ruth Preston Rose, and Ross Netherton, 2004.  “In the Path of History, Virginia between the Rappahannock and the Potomac: A Historical Portrait,” Higher Education Publications, page 63.

8 Bill Frazer, Home Owner, Former MBE President, Oral History

 

ĉ
Katie Broom,
Mar 10, 2013, 12:42 PM
Comments