Residents of Ashton Heights like to say that their community is both located in, and represents, “the heart of Arlington.”
And that heart is still beating strong as it turns 100 years young.
Residents of the neighborhood gathered Sept. 25 at the Arlington Arts Center for an evening soirée marking the centennial of the community, which is bounded by Wilson Boulevard to the north, North Glebe Road to the west, Arlington Boulevard to the south and North Irving Street to the east.
“What a great community we live in,” said Scott Sklar, president of the Ashton Heights Civic Association, in the organization’s most recent newsletter.
Sklar had joked that his one suggestion for the anniversary shindig had been a giant cake from whence a re-enactor portraying Ashton Jones, who developed the land in the 1920s, could pop out. A more manageable-sized cake was substituted instead, completing an evening that featured Rockland’s barbecue.
Jones (1879-1960) purchased the largely rural tract in 1919, a time when Arlington was growing due to an influx of workers in the region as the federal government expanded during the Great War (now known as World War I). Located just south of Clarendon, it offered direct road and streetcar connections to the nation’s capital.
Original homes cost . . . well, it would be painful to hear how modest the original sales prices were given that much of the neighborhood now sees transactions of $1 million or more. Let’s just say that the original homes cost what might be spent on an uncomplicated bathroom remodel these days.
The Sept. 25 celebration included remarks by local historian Charlie Clark, who once lived in the neighborhood. Also on the historical front, Peter W. Dickson has updated his seminal work – “Ashton Heights: Its Origin and History” – which details the evolution of the neighborhood over the course of 100 years. Copies are available for $10.
(In a pop-culture vein, local resident Ann Felker noted that 1921 not only saw the debut of the Ashton Heights neighborhood, but also Wonder Bread, Cheez-It, Chanel #5, the word “robot” and polygraph tests.)
To further celebrate the anniversary, the civic association will host a “Great Tree Walk” of the neighborhood on Saturday, Oct. 2 from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a plant/tree giveaway with ice cream and snacks from 2 to 4 p.m. at the parking lot of Clarendon United Methodist Church, 606 North Irving St. For more information, see the Website at www.ashtonheights.org.