Original Purpose

The Federal Works Agency, United States Housing Authority (USHA) built Hillwood Square to provide housing for war program workers and their families migrating into the area during World War II. Hillwood Square was one of two communities built in Fairfax County intended as permanent housing units that the federal government would sell at market rate once the war ended. Building plans located at the Hillwood Square Community House date from mid to late 1941, and the USHA oversaw the construction of the community in 1941 and 1942. Documents reference Hillwood Square as War Housing Project number VA-44137 and VA-44137-X. A dedication document created by the architect (and/or his staff) located at the Hillwood Square Community House shows a dedication date of May 30, 1942. The Federal Public Housing Administration managed Hillwood Square until they sold it in 1950.2

In total, five defense housing projects were built in Fairfax County. The two permanent type defense housing projects include Hillwood Square and a community of 12 experimental “igloo” units built by the Defense Homes Corporation; both projects were located in the Falls Church part of Fairfax County. The ―igloo‖ homes no longer exist. The three other projects in Fairfax County were located at Ft. Belvoir and included a women’s dorm, Gray’s Village and Young Village, all constructed as temporary projects and now demolished.3

In the nearby City of Alexandria, defense housing projects were utilized for subsidized public housing after the war’s end and managed by the City of Alexandria. Most of the buildings were constructed in high density areas near what is now the Braddock Road Metro and were of both temporary and permanent construction.4 The status of those defense homes projects is: Roberts Homes, demolished in 1983; Madden Homes, demolished between 2005-2008 and replaced with market rate townhomes called Chatham Square; Chinquapin Village, demolished and now a recreation area called Chinquapin Park; Parker Homes and Ramsey Homes, currently under consideration for higher-density redevelopment by the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority; and Cameron Valley Homes, demolished and now the site of condos and condo townhomes called Quaker Hill.5

In Arlington County, only two defense housing projects remain: George Washington Carver Homes and Fairlington Village. Carver Homes is a very small cooperative housing association in the Columbia Pike corridor region of Arlington County. Carver Homes has sparser construction and exhibits none of the site planning advantages of Hillwood Square; and it has been under significant pressure for redevelopment in recent years. Fairlington Village, one of the largest defense homes communities ever built, is on the state historic register; it was constructed for officers and their families and is all brick construction.

Oral history passed down through generations of Hillwood Square residents tells us that the original residents from 1942 were Torpedo Station workers at the Alexandria Torpedo Factory. Many descendants of original residents still live in Hillwood Square today and two original residents of Hillwood lived here until their deaths in 2007. While no roster of civilian Torpedo Station workers exists, Federal Government Housing Bulletins and other documents show that Hillwood Square was built to provide reasonably priced housing to civilian employees of the Munitions Building and their families.6 Prospective residents were required to show proof that they were civilian army or navy employees before being allowed to rent.

A History of Hillwood Square

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