Neighborhood History

The CCPCA History Committee started out as an ad hoc group formed in the summer of 2009 after one resident asked the listserv if anyone knew the origins of Clover and College Park. After that, six or seven curious folks who were interested in answering that question and others–such as finding out what the alcove in the wall at 810 Janney’s was about and exactly how Janney’s Lane got its name–got together and formed the committee. CCP residents knew that Jerry Ford had always been the neighborhood’s claim to fame, but, beyond him, there had to be something more, and we were bound and determined to find out what it was!

Members of the committee have included Patsy Rogers, Chris Tucker, Jim Butler, Leo Voytko, Dorothy Mulligan, Katherine Leon, and Louise Abbruzzese, who was a close friend of the Fords and had a huge newspaper and personal photo file on them. Some members have moved away, but the committee continues research on topics such as the history of MacArthur School and the Civil War in Clover-College Park.

Committee co-chair, Patsy Rogers, worked as a print journalist for thirty years, and, since retiring from the Washington Post, had spent three years as the lead researcher for a documentary film. She knew her way around court houses and deeds and figured she would start with her own house in Clover as well as one in College Park and would work backwards to find out when the neighborhoods started. She thought it would be a cinch.

Many old time Clover Residents thought its developer, Rozier Beech, had reworked a family property of his own. Others, including Dorothy Mulligan, knew their own College Park houses, built in the 1950s, were the handiwork of an outfit called Anco Builders. A year and two months later, dozens of interviews with long-time residents, hundreds of maps, deeds, and many visits to the Alexandria and Fairfax County Courthouse–where all the deeds predating 1930–were kept–and we had some of our answers.

Our respective neighborhoods–now one–had distinct and separate beginnings we had never dreamed of.

Currently, Dorothy Mulligan is hard at work on the history of the MacArthur School, and we are looking for help with a “Who’s-Who” piece about fascinating former residents, including the famous criminal defense attorney, Plato Cacheris, who was living on Skyhill when he was hired to represent attorney general John Mitchell in the Watergate scandal!

We would welcome input from a Civil War buff for a piece on the neighborhood’s role during that event. We already have an interview with an archaeologist who grew up here and dug up many period artifacts when he was a kid.

We would also welcome story suggestions and hope that some of you will join us in this challenging but fun project. Please let Patsy Rogers (email patsyrogersinva at gmail dot com) know if you are willing and available to help. (It really does take a village.)