It wasn’t the house that most attracted Brian Hannigan to Dominion Hills. In fact, his Colonial Revival-style red-brick home looks a whole lot like those of his neighbors.
What drew Hannigan and his wife, Judy Sullivan, to this section of Arlington County in 1983 was the setting outside: a canopy of mature trees, the grassy field and bustling playground of the neighborhood’s one-acre Dominion Hills Park, the greenery of Four Mile Run, and three multi-use trails within a stone’s throw of the porch.
He is also within walking distance of a skate park, a regional park, a community pool, tennis courts, picnic areas, and the spectacular azalea and rose gardens of Bon Air Park.
“I saw the great outdoor advantages to this neighborhood, that the physical setting was a great place to raise kids,” said Hannigan, whose children are now grown.
“I used to run 10-mile mornings along those trails, and I can’t tell you the number of bike rides I took with my kids,” added Hannigan, 67, president of the Dominion Hills Civic Association and a government relations consultant. “I see a lot of older people walking, too. The recreational opportunities are a big advantage of this neighborhood.”
“Dominion Hills’ best feature is that it’s so comfortable for families to locate here and be happy,” Hannigan said. “They’re happy because the quality of life is good, schools are excellent . . . and although prices are a lot higher now, they’re still evidently affordable for young families.”
Harmony in monotony: Two-story Colonial Revival was the original — and initially the exclusive — style home in Dominion Hills, which was developed primarily in the mid- to late 1940s on lots of 6,000 to 7,000 square feet. (Ranches and split-levels were later added.) That older section is on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, in recognition of its significance as a large-scale postwar suburban development in one architectural style, and demonstrating principles of mass production and standardization.
“Some could say it would be monotonous to have so many homes the same, but for us it makes Dominion Hills a rightly scaled, harmonious and attractive neighborhood,” Hannigan said. “Houses are set on their lots in different ways, there’s a variety in house details such as door surrounds and placements, and you see a lot of varied additions.”
Claim to fame: Actors Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty, who are siblings, grew up in a house in the 900 block of North Liberty Street as Shirley and Henry Warren Beaty.
A 2005 biography of Beatty by Suzanne Finstad said the two were drawn to the arts during their early days in that house. The Beatys, according to the book, were among the first families in the neighborhood to get a television, and Warren would tune in weekly to the “Texaco Star Theater” to follow his idol, Milton Berle.
Both attended Washington-Lee High School (MacLaine, Class of 1952; Beatty, Class of 1955). Beatty was a linebacker on the football team, and was offered 10 scholarships to play in college. MacLaine was a straight-A student, a cheerleader and president of a sorority, and she sang and danced in school and community musicals.
“She was funny and friendly — she had a great personality,” Amy Barrington, 79, who sat behind MacLaine in study hall, said in a telephone interview. “She did a lot of dance routines in the auditorium.”
Audrey Meadows, who played Alice Kramden in Jackie Gleason’s television show “The Honeymooners,” also once lived in the neighborhood.
Living there: Thirty-one homes were sold in Dominion Hills between March 2012 and March 2013, at prices ranging from $457,500 to $865,000, according to Joseph Reef of Coldwell Banker Realtors. Contracts for six homes, with a median list price of $647,450, are pending. Currently, there is one home listed for sale, for $749,000.
Boundaries: Four Mile Run to the north and east, Wilson Boulevard to the south, and McKinley Road and Ohio Street to the west.
Commuting: Dominion Hills, about five miles from Washington, is close to Interstate 66 and Routes 50 and 7. It’s a mile from the East Falls Church Metro station, and Metrobus Route 1 buses run along Wilson Boulevard and through the neighborhood to the Ballston station.
“This is a great location for families with commuters who head in different directions,” Hannigan said. “If one went into D.C. and the other to Tysons Corner, both would have good commutes by car, and, with the new Silver Line coming, both will also have Metro accessibility.”
Schools: Ashlawn or McKinley Elementary, Swanson Middle School, and Yorktown or Washington-Lee High.
Crime: According to the Arlington County Police Department, in 2012 the neighborhood had one burglary, one robbery and two aggravated assaults.
Connecting with neighbors: The Civic Association sponsors several family-oriented social activities, most of them held in Dominion Hills Park. It communicates to residents through an electronic mailing list, a Web site and a newsletter. “A lot of our work is with neighbors on behalf of neighbors,” Hannigan said, noting the group helps residents with issues such as street repairs and zoning. Currently, the biggest concern is cut-through and speeding traffic.
Gathering spots include the Westover Market, Westover Farmers Market on Sunday mornings and Ayres Hardware, “which is a treasured community institution that gives the area a small-town feel,” Hannigan said.
Cheryl A. Kenny is a freelance writer.