Where We Live
Barcroft: A Lake Superior In Fairfax
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Elliot and Vicki Haugen have always enjoyed country living, with its wide-open spaces and lush greens.
But when the couple moved to the Washington area from Missouri seven years ago, they didn't expect the country. They were resigned to accept that it would be nearly impossible to find large gardens, let alone a spacious piece of property, within a 20-minute commute from Elliot's job in downtown Washington.
Then one of Elliot Haugen's co-workers suggested he visit Lake Barcroft, a community that surrounds the 135-acre lake of the same name in Fairfax County. He found a green neighborhood, with water views and beach access, tucked away off Columbia Pike seven miles from the District line. "You usually think of lake communities in far-off locations or places that are not as developed," he said.
There are 1,044 households that belong to the Lake Barcroft Association, the community association that owns and runs the lake and provides residents access to its five small beaches. Of those houses, 225 are on the waterfront. All residents pay $260 annually in homeowners fees, plus an average of $600 per home toward maintaining the lake and dam, said David Goslin, president of the association.
The neighborhood's houses, built during the 1950s, were modestly designed, Goslin said. Today, many have been heavily renovated; styles include unassuming ranchers and sophisticated Colonials. Lots are about half an acre, with most sporting lush trees, well-manicured lawns and carefully plotted gardens.
Swimming, fishing and wind surfing are allowed on the lake, as are some small boats. It is also home to wildlife including beavers, great blue herons, geese and sea gulls.
"You just don't know how nice it is until you've been out there," said Heather Thomas, a three-year Lake Barcroft resident and a real estate agent with Long & Foster in McLean.
Once people move to Lake Barcroft, they stay put, Thomas said. "Turnover is enormously low," she said. She estimated that in many neighborhoods in the region, people tend to move every five years. In Lake Barcroft, she said, "People know their neighbors and will live here for 40 years."
Because of the slow turnover, it can take some patience for newcomers to find a house. "Usually, once someone makes the decision to come to the neighborhood, it just takes finding a home that suits them," Thomas said.
"There's a guy, [who doesn't live in Lake Barcroft,] that keeps coming to the newcomers club," she said. "Now, he'll eventually move here once the right house becomes available."
The lake was built early in the 20th century by damming Holmes Run. It was surrounded by thick forest and used as a reservoir, said Anthony Bracken, 71, a neighborhood resident and author of the book "Lake Barcroft History."
By mid-century, with the construction of a new reservoir in Occoquan, Lake Barcroft became an expendable surplus for the Alexandria Water Co. In 1950, the water company sold the 135 acre lake and 566 acres of surrounding land to developer Joseph V. Barger for $1 million, said Bracken, who spent a year researching the neighborhood for his book.