On weekday mornings during the school year, Hayfield Farm residents Marilyn and Albert Blocker have a regular routine: They take a walk in the morning and meet their grandchildren as the kids walk to school. The morning rendezvous makes the Blockers happy that their son Lewis and his wife Patty moved back to Hayfield as adults. And the kids "get excited" to see their grandparents, says Patty Blocker.
This small-town atmosphere is what attracted Lewis and Patty Blocker back to Hayfield after growing up there -- and they're far from alone.
Mamie Allen, another former Hayfield resident who has returned, says she experienced a flood of memories this summer as she watched a group of teenagers laughing and splashing at the neighborhood pool. Allen grew up in Hayfield as Mamie Gaffney and now lives with her family in the same house in which she was raised. She loves the familiarity of the Halloween parade, Easter egg hunt and pool parties thrown by the community association.
"This was our first home -- my dad was the original owner. Not much has changed," Allen said. "I call it my little 'Leave it to Beaver' world."
The Allens and Blockers are among a number of people who grew up in the 700-home community and are now moving back to raise their families in the tightly knit neighborhood. Tree-lined streets, schools within walking distance, shopping and a park are all part of the attraction.
Karen Wolfe met her husband Tony at Hayfield Secondary School in the early 1980s, married a few years later, and watched the housing market in Hayfield from their home in Prince William County. The moment was right in 2001, and they bought a house in Hayfield around the corner from where she grew up as Karen Niezgoda. Karen's parents still live in the same house. "I plan on growing old here," she said.
When the Hayfield alums gather at the pool in the summer, said Kim Lambert, the group talks about houses in terms of who used to live there when they were kids in the 1970s and '80s -- not who lives there now. "We all still talk in terms of when we grew up," Lambert said.
Greg Lambert, her brother, bought their parents' house; then Lambert's father returned a few years later and bought another house a few blocks away. When Kim's toilet broke at three in the morning, Dad was a few blocks away and came over to fix it that night. "It's almost like coming home," Lambert said.
Blocker's babysitter, Libby Keenan, is the mother of one of Blocker's friends from way back. Several of Keenan's customers were "all friends with one of her kids," Blocker said.
Bill Alewine, a resident and Realtor with Century 21 New Millennium, noticed that trend when he sold a house to Doug Powell, who grew up around the corner on Broadmoor Street where his parents still live. "We see a lot of that," Alewine said. Although Alewine has sold 125 homes in Hayfield over the past 10 years, he noticed the turnover rate -- his estimate was 5 percent a year -- was relatively low compared with 20 percent in some surrounding communities.
Hayfield houses come in colonial, ranch and split-level designs, according to Alewine. In the original development, the only homes with garages were those one-level ramblers that did not have basements; the garage housed the hot water heater and furnace. But fewer than a dozen of those models were built, Alewine said, and garage additions became more common as the community aged.
Hayfield is bordered on all sides by parkland and military installations. Talk of extending Hayfield Road through the Virginia woods of Fort Belvoir to Route 1 has come up from time to time, particularly since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- because Woodlawn Road cutting through Fort Belvoir was closed to the public and has remained closed. Every time, the suggestion has been defeated by residents who fear it would increase traffic and change the nature of the neighborhood.
Officials are looking at four options for a road that "would be somewhere between there [Belvoir land south of Hayfield] and the existing Woodlawn Road," said Jeff McKay, chief of staff in Fairfax County Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman's (D-Lee) office.
"We would never support a road going through Hayfield Farm," McKay said.
Fort Belvoir was spared in the recent round of military base closings, which could make Hayfield attractive for the thousands of military families that may be relocating to the area. There are plans somewhere down the road to widen Telegraph Road. "I know that will affect the traffic," Wolfe said.
In addition to being an attractive place to raise a family, Hayfield has a history. When the development was built in the early 1960s, there was a 16-sided barn on the property, and local lore had the barn belonging to George Washington himself. In reality, the barn was built in 1893 and modeled after another barn that Washington did build on the Mount Vernon plantation a few miles away. There was a manor house on the Hayfield land that was built by Washington, but it burned down in 1917.
Although land records over 200 years ago are a little hazy, Washington either sold the land and mansion to his cousin Lund Washington or gave it to him for managing the Mount Vernon plantation. Lund Washington and Elizabeth Foote lived in the manor until her death in 1812, and was buried, according to an old Hayfield Citizens Association newsletter, in a boxwood garden area. Her remains were later transported to the Pohick Cemetery at Pohick Church in Lorton.
The land was used for raising cattle until it was purchased by Wills and Van Meter in 1963, and the first house was built in 1965. County officials were considering using the barn for a theater, until 1967, when the barn was destroyed in a fire.
Hayfield residents want to make it clear that there is no road through to Route 1 and ensure there will not be one in the future.
Hayfield Park is on the site where a 16-sided barn still stood when the first houses were built in the 1960s.