Early Years

During World War II and immediately thereafter, Hillwood residents and the community at large used the Hillwood Square Community House for many events. It served as the meeting place for routine and special community meetings, and community leaders also sponsored parties and other recreational activities for the residents. A local Boy Scout troop met at the Community House regularly and the American Red Cross held first aid courses there in June of 1944.13 During the summer of 1945 an ambitious Fairfax County Recreation Program designated the Hillwood Square Community House as one of 28 locations in the County where youth could go for recreation, play activities and events.14 The Falls Church Cooperative Nursery and Kindergarten also used the community house from at least 1948-1955.15

After World War II ended, the Lanham Act required the federal government to sell the permanent war housing projects and demolish the temporary ones. Since Hillwood Square was considered a permanent housing project, the Act required that in order to preserve the local real estate market the government must sell Hillwood Square at market rate and not as low-income housing. Some of the residents of Hillwood Square wanted to purchase the property where they were living but their first attempt failed. The AMVETS national headquarters then organized a group to try to realize the formation of a cooperative housing association.16

As part of the disposition of defense housing after the war’s end, the government sold hundreds of defense housing projects to mutual home ownership associations. The formation of mutual home ownership groups, a type of housing cooperative, is an important part of housing history. Residents who formed mutual ownership groups earned too much to qualify for low-income or public housing assistance. However, they were not able to afford to own their own homes as most housing was priced out of their reach. Mutual ownership afforded moderate income earners the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of homeownership through a cooperative model of purchasing and maintaining the property. Requirements were strict, and the federal government required proof of a mutual ownership groups’ ability to fund the purchase and maintenance of a project before that project was sold to the group.

On April 29, 1950, Hillwood Square Mutual Association was successfully incorporated as a non-profit organization in which no capital stock is required or is to be issued. The purpose of the corporation was to purchase, own, operate and manage a housing project. On June 15, 1950, the association executed a first deed of trust to secure the payment of a note and purchased the 20.0929 acre parcel known as Hillwood Square from the United States of America Public Housing Administration for a sum of $468,000. The sale was subject to the “General Conditions of Sale of Permanent Lanham Act Property” under sale plan 4 (form PHA-SP-1802-3), one of the requirements of which was the association give first preference to veterans in the purchase of new memberships until at least January 1, 1951.

A History of Hillwood Square

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