Friday, March 16, 2018

History of Gary Braithwaite Field at Quartermaster

By John Berry

This article is about the main soccer field in South Reston, Gary Braithwaite Field at Quartermaster. I have often jogged by the soccer field on Glade Drive, not far from the Nature Center, to see the numerous soccer games on the weekends and many cars packing the street. I recently jogged by and noticed that they were renovating the field. The grass appears to have been taken off and it looks as if the field is undergoing a major renovation.

The soccer field has been around as long as I have lived in Reston, since 2004. Perhaps it was original to Reston, or a new development at some point between the beginning of Reston and 2004. In any event, the soccer field is always pretty packed so I am sure that the players will appreciate the efforts to restore the field before it gets warm.  It is not certain exactly when the field will re-open, after looking at the Reston Soccer Association (RSA) website, but it will not be re-opened in early Spring. Perhaps for the late Spring or Summer.

I did some quick research and the field is apparently named for a Gary L. Braithwaite who lived in Reston, Virgina and was heavily involved in Reston Soccer.  Mr. Braithwaite was born in Enid Oklahoma, raised in Teaneck, New Jersey and moved to Reston.  In addition to his career, he volunteered for the RSA starting in 1986.  He also served on the Board of Directors for the RSA, in addition to Reston Community Association. The field was named in his honor. He passed away in September of 2008.

I don't know when the field was named after him or if was called anything else before it was named in Mr. Braithwaite's honor.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Grant Hill - Restonian

By John Berry

I grew up as a big Grant Hill fan. The interesting part was that I lived in Detroit and not Reston at the time. Grant Hill was the star of my beloved Detroit Pistons. Born in October of 1972, Grant Hill was the son of NFL Pro Bowl running back Calvin Hill.

He moved to Reston in 1975 as a preschooler when his father played for the Washington Redskins. He attended Terraset Elementary School, Langston Hughes Middle School and then graduated from South Lakes High School in 1990. He wore #32 for the South Lakes Basketball Team.  While at South Lakes High School he played for coaches Wendell Byrd and Gary Hall.  Grant Hill was a 6' 4". Freshman when he started his high school career at South Lakes, eventually reaching 6' 8".

As everyone in Reston pretty much knows he attended Duke University, winning two NCAA titles, one at expense of my alma mater Michigan in 1992 and was eventually drafted third in the NBA draft in 1994 by Detroit. He quickly put his considerable skills to work for Detroit and had an outstanding 6 years with the team until 2000. He continued playing the league after Detroit, with the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and finally the Los Angeles Clippers, retiring in 2013.  Grant Hill also earned a Gold Medal from the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Grant Hill Jersey Retirement Ceremony

I can remember going to see Grant Hill play many times for the Pistons when I lived in Detroit. Detroiters considered Grant Hill to not only be an outstanding player but a person of integrity and part of the community.

It took me until about 2007 to realize that he went to school in Reston. Grant Hill recently had his basketball jersey retired at South Lakes High School in Reston.  There was a really good article on Grant Hill in the Washington Post this past December.  There was an earlier article in the Washington Post in 2013. Grant Hill hosts a sports show on NBA TV's NBA Inside Stuff and is part owner of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks.

Friday, February 23, 2018

From Reston Tailoring to J-Petal, Hunters Woods Shops Change with the Times

By John Berry

If Restonians have not noticed by now, I like to write about historical issues and areas in Reston. I need to head back to the libraries for more detailed research, so I thought I would cover another area that doesn't require as much research but is somewhat interesting to me; the different businesses that come and go in Reston.  In this article I discuss a storefront change over the last several years in Reston at Hunters Woods Village Center.  This particular storefront involves the space at 2260 Hunters Woods Plaza, Suite B.

This location was occupied by Reston Tailoring and was the first business that I can recall occupying the space since we moved here in 2004.  I wish that the business would have stayed at this address because they were so convenient to our house.  Reston Tailoring and the Cordova family have been simply amazing.  Whenever I have needed a suit tailored on short notice or a dress shirt fixed they have always done so with professionalism, good tailoring and friendly conversation. I believe that they occupied this space (or a space at Hunters Woods Village Center since 1984) until about June of 2013).

Reston Tailoring
The good news is that the Cordovas and Reston Tailoring are still in business, and have moved to Lake Anne Plaza at 1601 Washington Plaza.  I highly recommend their tailoring.  My entire family enjoys their fine craftsmanship. I was very sad to see them move further from where my house was located in South Reston, but I am glad that they are still in town and still visit them today for all of our alterations.

After the Cordovas left in or around June of 2013, a business that I had not heard of, Mathnasium, took over and opened in the space in or around early 2014. The business involved tutoring and seemed to do a brisk business in the beginning of their lease, focusing on mostly on math tutoring for younger students.  I never really got the chance to visit the business, but it stayed for about 2 years at this location.

While the Mathnasium chain continues in other locations, it has left 2260 Hunters Woods Plaza, Suite B.  I believe it left at some point in 2016 - early 2017.  A new business, however, has just taken over the location.  The business is called J-Petal. I was picking up some food for my daughters and noticed the new sign. I found the menu fascinating. I also looked them up online and see that they have 3 other successful locations in Brooklyn, New York, Harrisonburg, Virginia and Somerset, Massachusetts.

J-Petal apparently serves Japanese Crepes and Thai Ice Cream. Their menu is listed here. I am eager to try out their Cookie Monster dessert.  J-Petal's other locations get good reviews so I cannot wait to try them out (I still miss Dairy Queen).

Three business in this location over the course of 33 years and they are all very different.    

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Remember Books-A- Million?

By John Berry

I don't know if 11620 Plaza America Drive had a business before Books-A-Million, but the space has been home to a number of businesses.  My favorite was Books-a-Million. It was able to exist in the time of Barnes and Noble and seemed to do good business.  It was nice place to visit.  My youngest daughter would always take me to the train set and make me sit there (kudos for the chairs) while she and other local kids played with the train set. The store always seemed to have a good selection of discount books and plenty of magazines. Books-A-Million closed around April of 2011.  

Staples was next, and I liked the office supplies that it provided. However, towards the end of it's tenure at the location I had the feeling that Staples would not keep the store given that the technology items were not kept up to date. That usually is a good sign with these types of stores. It was a good store for the time, although I still missed the book store.  

When Staples closed in October/November 2017, Total Wine announced that it was going to open in the space.  I like Total Wine and it should be a good fit for the location, however, I still miss the book store.  In any event, I walked by it the other day and it looks like it is about ready to open. 

If anyone knows whether or not another business was located here before Books-A-Million, please be sure to comment.  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Remembering Primo Italiano at Plaza America

By John Berry

I have lived in Reston since 2004 and always loved Primo Italiano restaurant. It was located at 11888 Plaza America Drive and was there for many years before it closed in May of 2015. My family would often go there or pick up take out. My personal favorite were the sub sandwiches (especially the Italian) and the nice people that worked there. Since Primo Italiano left, there has been a void in the space for about a year and a half.

Primo Italiano 2011
However, just recently (this past Friday) a new restaurant opened up, Grill Kabob. I ate there on Saturday and have to say the food and service was excellent. It was also interesting how they reconfigured the space to make it more open. I would try it out.  I enjoyed it and Plaza America definitely needed this type of restaurant. I recommend the Gyro sandwich.
Grill Kabob - Nov. 2017 before opening
Grill Kabob Feb. 2018 - Now Open

Monday, February 5, 2018

History of the Fairfax Hunt Club

By John Berry

Fairfax Hunt Club - February 2018

Fairfax Hunt Club - February 2018 (from Road)
The Fairfax Hunt Club was founded by A. Smith Bowman (1868-1952), who was born in Kentucky, on his 4,000-acre Sunset Hills Farm (North Reston) in 1928. He also owned the Bowman Distillery that once was located in Reston and now is located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. You may recognize the Bowman name, given that some roads in Reston are named after Mr. Bowman (e.g. Bowman Town Drive). The Fairfax Hunt Club’s 8 acres are bordered by Lake Fairfax Park to the South, The Meadows at Great Falls Crossing to the East and more single family homes to the North and West.

The Beginning of the Fairfax Hunt Club

After purchasing Sunset Hills Farm, Mr. Bowman started the Fairfax Hunt Club out of his desire to hunt foxes and engaged the local population at the time in this type of activity.  He would invite neighbors, friends and family to hunt with him. As of 1929, the Fairfax Hunt Club had grown fairly large and Mr. Bowman sought formal recognition of the Fairfax Hunt Club from the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America. The MFHA (Masters of Foxhounds Association of America) accepted the Fairfax Hunt Club later that year and gave formal recognition to the group in 1933. In 1937, the Fairfax Hunt Club was given it's legal name by the Commonwealth of Virginia as "The Fairfax Hunt." The Fairfax Hunt Club grew significantly over the 1930s and many important members of the D.C. area, such as General George Patton, hunted with the group. At one point the Fairfax Hunt Club was located at the Aesculapian Hotel, located, I believe, near where the Fannie Mae building is now.

After hunting at the Bowman Estate for some time (currently up the hill on Old Reston Ave. and occupied by the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (1856 Old Reston Ave), there were no facilities for the Fairfax Hunt Club from 1936 to 1951. As a result meets and events were held elsewhere.The clubhouse, however, on Lake Fairfax Drive was not built until around 1951.

The Reston Location

In 1951, the Fairfax Hunt Club was given, by the Bowman family, a tract of 10 acres on the northern Edge of Reston.  The clubhouse on the property has an interesting history. A log house, located on Beulah Road in Vienna was owned by the Roy Money family.  In the Spring of 1951, Mr. Money had decided to tear down the log house, but the Fairfax Hunt Club purchased the structure and had it removed, log by log, and rebuilt on the present location.  Eventually, the log home was enlarged through additions. The location of the Fairfax Hunt Club was 1321 Lake Fairfax Drive
Reston, VA 20190. Eventually, as Fairfax became more populous, Fairfax the location became less able to host hunt events. By the early 1970s (after Sunset Hills Farm had been sold off) the fox hunting aspect of Fairfax Hunt had largely moved to Loudoun County (and beyond).  I was unable to find all the much on the current ongoings of the Fairfax Hunt Club, so if anyone has any information, please feel free to post it.

Current Status

In 2011, the location became managed by J.R.'s Custom Catering, which also is affiliated with local restaurants, like J.R.'s Stockyards Inn.  J.R.’s Custom Catering is the exclusive event management and caterer for the Fairfax Hunt Club, which can accommodate 300 guests. There was some discussion in June/July of 2014 of the Fairfax Hunt Club selling the property as part of a residential development, but it is unclear what the status of that is. The Hunt Club, as of February, 2018, still is apparently still for rent for special events through J.R.'s Custom Catering.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Brown's Chapel in Reston

By John Berry

Brown's Chapel Today
Brown's Chapel located at 1575 Brown's Chapel Road in Reston, Virginia near Lake Newport, has a storied history. Brown's Chapel was first built in 1879. Reverend Augustus and Sarah Brown deeded a half-acre of land on Leesburg Pike to the Methodist Episcopal Church. Reverend Brown and Joe and Irving Brown built the church. The structure is very historic, approximately 914 square feet, and is used for a variety of activities. The first religious services began at the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1879.  The church was built on land at the corner of Baron Cameron and Leesburg Pike.  The church had an active congregation until 1967.

Reverend Jesse Brown, at age 76, and his wife Abigail came to the Leesburg Pike area with their 44-year old son, Augustus Americus Brown and 2 other ministers to set up a missionary and a farm.  They ended up purchasing a 317-acre farm that was located on both sides of the Leesburg Pike, for $12 per acre. Both Jesse and Augustus had pastoral licenses. The Methodist Episcopal Church congregation dissolved in 1967. After the church was dissolved, the Northern Virginia Methodist Board of Missions offered the chapel to the Fairfax Historical Landmarks Preservation Commission for possible relocation. Relocation had been necessary due to the widening of Leesburg Pike at the time. The Preservation Commission then contacted Gulf-Reston, Inc., who at that time were the developers of Reston.

In May 1968, Gulf-Reston decided to move the chapel (all 70 tons of it), saving it from destruction, to Baron Cameron near Lake Anne and Lake Newport, where it sits today. Brown's Chapel is 28 feet wide, 36 feet long and 32 feet high. The style of the building is Greek Revival, based on a New England interpretation. This style was common where the Reverend Brown's family had originated.

Moving Day for Brown Chapel, May 3, 1968
Brown's Chapel today is now part of Reston Association and Reston has been built up around the chapel since the move to it's current location on May 3, 1968. Today, the area surrounding Brown's Chapel includes baseball fields, a basketball court, picnic grounds, a playground, a connection to the walking paths, and other recreation amenities. From my experience with the Reston Association camps,  Brown's Chapel is the refuge for indoor games and watching videos. The Reston Association's camps have regularly used the space for some time.

Of note, a cemetery owned by the former congregation of Brown's Chapel is still located at Baron Cameron and Leesburg Pike, at 10416 Leesburg Pike (visible from the road) which contains more than 200 graves, many of which are unmarked and remain.  It is interesting to note that some of the members were buried there as late as the 1980s, even after the church had been moved. A link to some information about the cemetery is located here.

Brown's Chapel Cemetery near 7-11 on Leesburg Pike, near Baron Cameron

History of Gary Braithwaite Field at Quartermaster

By John Berry This article is about the main soccer field in South Reston, Gary Braithwaite Field at Quartermaster. I have often jogged by...