The three oak trees in the front yard of Eugene and Irene Fraber's Arlington home were removed yesterday with chain saws and bulldozers.
The clearing makes way for the relocation of N. Quincy Street where it will someday pass over the new extension of Interstate 66.
Earlier this month, some of the trees in the Frabers back yard were cleared. The land they once occupied will be used for a new soccer field being installed by Arlington County.
The Frabers's property at 1608 N. Quincy St. has been reduced by two-thirds of its original size by the street relocation and the soccer field project.
"It's just like cutting your heart out," said Eugene Fraber, who has lived on the land for 66 years "We love the trees."
For the Frabers, the tree cutting was the end of what they described as a 19-year battle to save their property.Fraber moved to the site when he was 4 years old, and brought his bride there to live in his parents home 49 years ago. He built much of his own house on the site, four years before the highway was proposed in 1959. Since then the couple has taken the case to court and written to state and federal officials trying to get the highway project stopped.
Originally the Frabers had more than 37,000 square feet of land. The state bought about 3,400 square feet for the highway project in 1967 for $6,000 and the county bought 24,600 square feet in 1975 at $2 a square foot, or $49,200.
The Frabers said they sold the backyard land to the county because they felt that if they didn't, the county would have the land condemned in court and buy it anyway. At the time the I-66 project had practically been abandoned, and they were not worried about losing their front yard, they said. The decision to continue with the I-66 construction was made shortly after they sold the backyard.
The Arlington County Board voted last month to use the Fraber's land for a soccer field despite requests from the Fraber's and many of their neighbors that the land be preserved as a natural area.
"We wanted to keep it like it was because it was real natural," Mrs. Fraber said, adding that the area used to have a multitude of birds and flowering plants.
Mrs. Fraber said she offered to use the land in her back yard for gardens where handicapped children could work under the supervision of herself and her husband. Instead, their vegetable, chrysanthemum and tulip gardens will have to be moved.
"I used to have the whole place full of flowers," Fraber said bitterly, chomping on his cigar. "I have every color of mum . . . (and) I'm going to move every bit of the dirt out of the garden."
While the Frabers and about 30 I-66 opponents watched the trees come down yesterday, Mrs. Fraber said she had dreamed of celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary next year with a lawn party under the oaks.
But she said she and her husband would not move from the house.
"This has been our home . . . where else would we go?" she said.