The Lay of the Land

General Description

The current site is a parcel listed by Fairfax County as 19.2251 acres in size, though the deed of record lists the property as 20.0929 acres. On the site are 41 original buildings. 12 buildings are one story duplexes each with two, one-bedroom units for a total of 24 one-bedroom units.

28 buildings have two stories and contain 4 to 6 row house style units each. Row house style units have either 2 or 3 bedrooms. In total there are 96 two-bedroom units and 40 three-bedroom units. The remaining building is the Community House, a gathering place for member meetings and social activities. Two shed sized structures are also on the property. One is a gas meter house at the north-east corner that is still in use and the other a sewage pumping station house at the south-east corner that is no longer in use.

Residences and the Community House are clustered at the north end of the property. The front of the buildings face walkways: 3 row house buildings and 4 duplex buildings face north towards Williams Walk; 9 row house buildings form a long and narrow u-shape around Mankin Walk; another 9 row house buildings are in the same configuration around Church Walk; 6 row house buildings are situated on either side of Franklin Walk; 5 duplex buildings, one row house building and the Community House face Cherry Street; 3 duplex buildings are located on Defense Drive. Alleys and service roads allow access to the rear of most units.

The site layout fosters a greater sense of community by restricting the parking to the perimeter areas behind the units on Mankin Walk, along Defense Drive and in two small lots at the north end of the alleys. Mature trees and significant green space areas are located throughout the community along the walk ways. A playground is located in the northern part of the community, near 2830-2840 Cherry Street in addition to the recreation areas on the south end.

The south end of the property features ample recreation space and includes a ball field, victory gardens, and another playground. This green space isolates the community from the activity of a garden apartment complex and Route 50 located to the south. Contributing further to the peaceful and park-like setting is the nature in which the surrounding properties were developed.

The west property line adjoins single-family residences, the James Lee Community Center and a church graveyard. Cherry Street and single family homes border the east end of the property. The north property line adjoins a City of Falls Church ball park and an established townhome community built in the 1970′s.

Constructed in 1941–1942, most Hillwood Square residences are small row house style units. The lower level of the row house consists of a living room, eat-in kitchen and utility closet. Upper levels are either two or three-bedroom and one bath. Some units have additional space: rear one-story additions built by residents to provide an additional 112 to 160 square feet of living space. The community calls these additions “porches,” and they are the only non-original building construction on the two-story buildings. Some of the porches are three-season, others are four-season and open to the kitchen area. The porches were built as early as the 1950′s and as late as 2008 (to date).

The remaining residences are one-story duplex buildings housing two one-bedroom units each. Some one-story duplexes have small additions, where the area with the original utility closet has been expanded by approximately 20-24 square feet to provide additional living space in the kitchen area. These modest additions are not part of the original construction, but are added by residents just as the porches are on the larger units.

Buildings exteriors feature asbestos shingles, white painted wood trim and generously sized double-hung, 6/6 divided light windows. Some residents have replaced original wood windows with vinyl double-hung windows. In a couple of instances, residents have replaced original windows with bay windows. Trim has been capped with aluminum sheeting on some of the buildings. A few of the units have exterior window shutters flanking the windows or have awnings over windows, a door or a patio. These shutters and awnings are not part of the original design and were added by residents. The majority of buildings have moderately pitched roofs; the remaining buildings have flat roofs. Brick chimneys on the roofs provide ventilation for gas furnaces and gas water heaters.

Overall architectural style is a restrained, simplified colonial revival, a style that late 1930′s architects and builders were experimenting with.1 The buildings exhibit more architectural detail than is typically associated with government built housing projects. Exterior window and door casings are flat with eased edges; entry doors on the row house style units at the ends of each building have a prominent rectangular pediment above. Dentil moldings are visible just under the roof eaves on buildings with flat roofs that have not yet been capped with aluminum. A wide trim band surrounds the pitched roof buildings, just under the roof line. Building corners have wood trim.

The center units of each townhome-style building are defined with an overhanging second-story and wood trim. Windows are generally in pairs on the front and back of the buildings, except in the back for kitchens or bathrooms, or on end-units where the design is symmetrical with a window on each side of the front door. One-bedroom duplex units are somewhat less detailed, but do exhibit wide trim details and small porch overhangs at the front doors.

A History of Hillwood Square

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