Friday, May 18, 2018

History of Hunters Woods Elementary

By John Berry

I figured that I hadn't written an article on any Reston schools as of yet on the Reston History Blog.  I thought I would start with my home area, Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, which was built in 1969 and which is located at 2401 Colts Neck Road. It is home to the Mighty Mustangs and a great elementary school. I have a daughter that attended Hunters Woods from 2009 to 2015 and another daughter that is about to start at the school this coming Fall. It is an amazing elementary school with a long history in Reston over the past 49 years. Hunters Woods Elementary School was the second elementary school built in Reston, after Lake Anne Elementary School was built in 1966.  

The first principal of Hunters Woods was O. Stuart Chaplain, Jr. who served for many years (over 12 years or more). According to the Reston Times, he began interviewing for the first Hunters Woods teacher positions on July 1, 1969. Former Principal Chaplain, by the way, recently wrote a new fiction book that is on Amazon.com.

Dr. Chaplain, First Hunters Woods Principal
In 1975, Hunters Woods Elementary had a new wave fitness program which caused the school to be named the most physically fit school in Virginia by the President's Council. Another article from 1975 from an Iowa newspaper discussed the introduction of Movement Education at Hunters Woods Elementary, too enhance rhythm, balance, coordination and memory which is still in place to this day. There was an interesting article about teacher pay that involved Principal Chaplain back in 1979 from the Washington Post. It also appears the Principal Chaplain later became a principal at Neil Armstrong Elementary School at some point.

Hunters Woods 2018
Undated Photo, likely early 1971-1973



Anonymous 1971 Photos of HWES in Front of the School
As of 1996, the principal of Hunters Woods was Linda Goldberg. I wasn't able to find out too much about her background during her tenure. From about 2001 to the Spring of 2005, the principal of the school was Stephen Hockett. I could be off on some of the exact dates because there was not a lot of information available in the old news databases. Mr. Hockett eventually transferred to McNair Elementary School. From what I can tell from news articles he was very well liked and did a great job at Hunters Woods. In 1995, Hunters Woods was the first elementary school to be granted access to the Internet. In 1997, Fairfax converted Hunters Woods Elementary to a magnet school, one of two in Fairfax County.  Hunters Woods was remodeled in 2002, putting in a number of new windows, a stage, black-box theater, science labs and museum space.  Hunters Woods is famous for their Black-Box theater productions.

There are a number of ways that a family in Fairfax County can enroll their student at Hunters Woods; through living in the immediate area (our good fortune), through the Fairfax application/lottery system or through transfer to the Gifted and Talented student program from other local schools. When my oldest daughter started in 2009, the principal of Hunters Woods was Olivia Toatley, who retired after a 40-year distinguished career in June, 2012. In 2011, Hunters Woods welcomed a delegation from Taiwan so that they could see how the arts and sciences and arts could be integrated in their school system.

I believe Ms. Toatley was the principal at Hunters Woods from 2005-2012 and had served a previous stint as assistant principal at the school under former Principal Hockett. She was very nice. She was replaced by Principal Emily Cope, who is still principal and has always done a great job while being accessible to all families. It seems like everyone loves Ms. Cope and I know from first hand how well she runs the school.

Below are some more recent pictures of Hunters Woods Elementary School.

Artwork - Class of 2010-2011 


Hunters Woods Sign 2017
Front of School 2018
Hunters Woods PTA Symbol
Front of Hunters Woods Artwork


Of all the playgrounds at Reston Elementary schools, I have to say that Hunters Woods has one of the best.  They have just about everything: swings, every kind of slide and bridges galore. Also, the cushioning on the playground is very plush to help with any falls.  


Hunters Woods Playground

Hunters Woods has a number of amazing programs that most other elementary schools simply do not have.  They have an artist in residence program every year.  Each year a professional artist is invited to share their experiences with 6th grade students.  The students, with the artists help, create a permanent work of art for the school. If you have time, it is nice to visit all of the art projects completed over the years. Hunters Woods also has a great musical program for students. They normally have over 40 teachers and 1100 or so students. They also have a very pro-active PTA that does a lot to help the school and teachers.  Hunters Woods continues to excel today, some 49 years after it was built. We look forward to returning to Hunters Woods Elementary with our new daughter.



Friday, May 11, 2018

Reston Radio - Circa 1966


In searching for Reston information, I found out that Reston, at one time, had its own radio station. Who knew?  In any event, the radio station as of 1966 was WHRN, 1440 AM.  The radio station no longer exists, but it was located at 2455 Fox Mill Road. I did some basic research into this radio station, which no longer exists, to see what I could find.

From what I could tell, WHRN started in 1965, with an easy listening format. After about a year, the format changed to a country station until 1967 or 1968. WHRN referred to the station as "Tall Grass Country." Form more information, check out this website.

WHRN - Reston Radio

Monday, May 7, 2018

Beckanstin Builders of Reston Homes

By John Berry

Beckanstin Home ad late 1960s
I live in a home built by Allan R. Beckanstin in 1970 on Triple Crown Road.  He was one of the main builders, especially in South Reston in the late 1960s/early 1970s.  Most of the homes built by Mr. Beckanstin were contemporary, with some version of split-level built into them.

Mr. Beckanstin began his building career building homes in the Lake Barcroft area in the mid-1950s. Following his Lake Barcroft work, he became a speculative home builder in Reston.  During the period of 1964 to 1971, he built more than 150 houses in Reston. I suspect that most of these were built in South Reston.   As of 1966, Mr. Beckanstin's business was located at 12205 Quorn Lane, which also appears to be a home that he built.  It is also interesting to note that the going price for one of his homes, in 1966 was between $37,000 to $47,500.

One of Mr. Beckanstin's trademarks was that he attempted to build houses in Reston while preserving the natural settings. I can see that in my home given the age of some of my trees. Mr. Beckanstin later built homes in McLean.  Mr. Beckanstin passed away at the age of 84 in 2001.  The homes that he made in Reston, however, have had last a lasting and amazing legacy in Reston. Here are a few sample Beckanstin houses below:

Example Beckanstin #1
Example Beckanstin #2
Example Beckanstin #3

If you live in Reston, you should check out your house and see if it is an original Beckanstin.  They truly are neat homes. 




Friday, May 4, 2018

History of the Reston Zoo

By John Berry

Roer's Zoofari
I love the Reston Zoo. It is located at 1228 Hunter Mill Road in Reston, Virginia. It has always been nice to have a local spot to visit without having to go downtown DC or elsewhere.  I thought I would explore it's origins. The zoo has changed owners and names multiple times over the years.

The Zoo was originally opened in 1975, and still operates today as Roer's Zoofari. When it opened, it was started by Mark "Jack" Crippen, Jr. as a 60-acre park called the "Pet-a-Pet Farm." Mr. Crippen, after losing a significant amount of money on the project decided to close the operation in 1978.  However, the park was able to re-open after a new owner, Mark Smith, was able to find a financial backer to re-open the park. The Zoo was then re-named the "Pet Farm Park" in 1980 and operated that way for about the next 20 years.  

In 1993, the Zoo was renamed again, as the "Reston Animal Park" and in 1994 was reduced in size to approximately 30 acres.  I noticed that at some point, in July of 1993, somebody had filed two $500,000 lawsuits against the Reston Animal Park for an incident involving a buffalo that charged a gate, knocking a woman and her granddaughter into the air (neither received major injuries). I imagine that these cases were thrown out or settled for some very minor amount. The owner eventually left for Loudoun County and the zoo was leased to the Morgensen family in 2000.

Reston Zoo - Before Roer's
And who could forget the issues that occurred in 2012 in which the former director of the Zoo was charged with euthanizing animals improperly.  In any event, it looks like the Zoo is doing well now under the new ownership in place since 2016. The Zoo was purchased by Jacob Roer and Vanessa Stoffel, who gave the zoo it's present name "Roer's Zoofari." I like their sign as well. The zoo currently has approximately 30 acres, which is amazing considering the value of that property today. The zoo has such mammals as an American Bison, Asian Water Buffalo, a Wallaby, Bobcat, Zebra, Cheetah, Giraffe, Llama, Kangaroo, Sloth and many more.

Giraffe Time
The Zoo, whatever it's name, has always been a great location to take the kids to and see and pet and feed animals (exotic and more traditional) and has had a neat gift shop.  I recall that my daughter, at some point around 2006 went to a birthday party where they were even able to ride on a llama.

Petting Time at the Reston Zoo

I am very glad that Roer's has been able to keep the location as a zoo, instead of having the land used up for another housing development.  It is nice for kids to be able to go and visit animals without having to go all the way down to Washington, D.C.






Friday, April 6, 2018

Sunset Station Circa the 1950s

By John Berry

The photo immediately below depicts Sunset Station in Reston, currently still preserved near Old Reston Ave and Sunset Hills Rd.  The photo was likely taken in the late 1940s or early to mid-1950s.   The tracks have since been replaced by a nice bike and running path that are well used, but it is hard to believe that trains once ran up and down in this same location.


The photos below were taken in late 2017 which show that the station, while not serving trains any more, still has been preserved.  



Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Where Have You Gone Barnes and Noble?

By John Berry

I miss Barnes and Noble. It is still hard to believe that it has been gone from Reston for 5 years, since it was replaced by the Container Store in or around February of 2013. The bookstore had been located in the same space in the Spectrum Center since about 1998. I vividly recall taking my older daughter there to sit on the benches and read children's books while I looked at the magazines.  There is nothing quite like a bookstore. I also miss BooksAMillion that left Reston a bit earlier than Barnes and Noble (I believe).

I am happy that Scrawl Books is doing well (and definitely buy books there), but still yearn for Barnes and Noble to make a comeback. I would even be open to an Amazon Bookstore if they ever decide to come to Reston. I love big bookstores.

Reston Barnes and Noble 2012
Barnes and Noble was perfectly situated, with an open door to Starbucks after you checked out so that you could get your caffeine and then read books or refresh yourself after reading and purchasing books. It is hard to know what caused Barnes and Noble to leave Reston, but it probably had to do with a combination of Amazon online sales and higher rent costs.

The staff at Barnes and Noble were always great and I could always count on finding or being able to obtain the books I wanted without too much trouble.  Hopefully, Scrawl Books will grow large enough to become the Reston bookstore or Barnes and Noble (or Amazon Bookstore) will return.  Until then some photos from the store.






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.



History of Hunters Woods Elementary

By John Berry I figured that I hadn't written an article on any Reston schools as of yet on the Reston History Blog.  I thought I woul...