The Town of Wiehle, Virginia (in what would eventually become Reston) began as a concept by Dr. Carl Adolph Max Wiehle. From the 1892 map below, it appears that the Town of Wiehle encompasses most of what is now North Reston.
Dr. Wiehle's Background
A little bit about the background of Dr. Wiehle. He was born in 1847 in Germany and was the son of a German Reformed Minister. Dr. Wiehle immigrated from Germany at the age of 2. Wiehle, VA: Ghost of a Town that Never Quite Lived, Washington Star Pictorial Magazine, Aug. 31, 1952, at 2. He attended the University of Pennsylvania for Medical School and practiced medicine in Philadelphia. Dr. Wiehle had 7 children, did quite well in his practice, and decided to retire from medical practice early to engage in building. He retired from medicine at the young age of 35-41 (accounts differ) in 1881. Wiehle's Legacy Lives on in Reston, Gregg MacDonald, Wash. Post, Apr. 4, 2002.
Purchase of Reston Lands by Dr. Wiehle
Dr. Wiehle purchased 4,000 acres of land in what would later become Reston and moved his family to Washington, D.C., living at 1621 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Dr. Wiehle formed a land partnership in 1886 with General William McKee Dunn to purchase approximately 6,450 acres of heavily forested land in Fairfax County along the railroad, which was close to current day Sunset Hills Road, for about $20,000, or about $4 per acre. Legacy Lives on in Reston, MacDonald. The land was divided equally between Wiehle on General Dunn, who subsequently developed "Dunn" Loring. Dr. Wiehle took the 3,228 acres north of the railroad tracks, where he eventually built his home, a post office and a town hall. Dr. Wiehle's plan was to develop a self-sufficient community that would provide "about 800 homes for 4000 residents." I wonder if he would be surprised today that Reston would ultimately have about 60,000 - 70,000 residents by the year 2017.
The Train Comes to Wiehle
Almost 130 years before the Wiehle Metro Stop opened in 2016, a railroad first established a stop in Wiehle, Virginia in 1888. Reston's first railroad stop, so to speak, was established in August of 1888, on the W. & O Railroad. As the Alexandria Gazette on August 2, 1888, reported:
|New Wiehle Train Stop|
|Sunset Hill Stations Photos Sept. 2017|
In 1887, Dr. Wiehle was able to persuade the federal government to change the post office address in the Town of Wiehle from Thornton's Mills to the Wiehle Post Office. In September of 1887, a new post office, named "Wiehle" was opened in what would become Reston. As reported by the Alexandria Gazette on September 2, 1887. See the article below:
|Wiehle Post Office Established|
The Wiehle Town Hall building still exists, but is in much need of repair and restoration. It no longer sports the steeple shown in the photo below. The old Wiehle Town Hall is located on Old Reston Avenue not far from Sunset Hills Road. The structure was designed by Dr. Wiehle in the Classical Revival style and built in 1892 and originally served two important functions for the Town of Wiehle. The first floor was occupied by the Town Hall and the second floor was occupied by the Wiehle Methodist Episcopal Church. Eventually, the structure became part of the A. Smith Bowman Whiskey Distillery and Farm. Department of Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Form 10-900, dated October 18, 1999. The building was last up for sale a few years ago in 2008 for $1,600, 000.
|1892 Wiehle Town Hall|
|August 2017 Wiehle Town Hall|
August 2017 Wiehle Town Hall
1950s View of Wiehle - Before Reston
In 1892, Dr. Wiehle hired a city planner to draw up plans for the town of Wiehle, which was to include 800 residences laid out along a grid of streets and avenues named after famous locales, such as New York and Paris. The main streets were named Paris, London, Berlin and Vienna Avenues. However, despite the plan for 800 residents, only 10 lots were sold and built upon in Wiehle.
|Dr. Carl Adolph Max Wiehle|
The Town of Wiehle also maintained an Icehouse. According to the NPS Form 10-900 National Register form "A brick icehouse, the larger icehouse for miles around was constructed in 1888 on the Big Lake dam. The structure could accommodate the storage of a large amount of ice that would be cut each winter from the dammed water. The cutting of the ice was a huge event in the town of Wiehle, and the Wiehle family would travel from Washington, DC to attend the ceremonies."
Dr. Wiehle also built the Aesculapian Hotel in 1888, a large summer hotel which attracted a number of visitors from the D.C. area, and which was torn down in the 1950s. The Fairfax County Public Library (Fairfax City Regional) maintains a 1892 version of the Town of Wiehle Map. If Dr. Wiehle had not been injured and/or gotten ill we might all be living in the Town of Wiehle today.
|Map of Wiehle, Virginia 1892|
As you can see from the map above, Dr. Wiehle had an elaborate plan for the Town of Wiehle. The 1892 map had a legend which had a Manor House, Hotel, Poultryman's Bungalow, Horsebarn and many other properties. The following photograph was taken sometime in the 1890s. It shows the Town of Wiehle at its very start. It is hard to imagine that the bridge would sit on top of where the 7-11 on Sunset Hills drive does today.
|1890s Wiehle Virginia|
A town charter was issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia General Assembly in 1898. By 1900 Wiehle had a population that was relatively small, approximately 50 people.
Dr. Wiehle died of pneumonia in 1901. Following his passing, the Town of Wiehle continued for some time, but did not prosper and the lands were sold to the Bowman family in 1927. Wiehle, VA: Ghost of a Town, at 3. The Town Hall ceased to function as such in 1909.
But for Dr. Wiehle's passing, Reston might instead be still known as Wiehle, Virginia. The Virginia General Assembly, in 1989, through House Bill 1156 repealed the original act which had incorporated Wiehle, finalizing the end of the Town's name. However, Wiehle lives on with the naming of the Wiehle Metro Stop / Development and Wiehle Road.
|Dr. Wiehle's signature|