What to do with human bones predating the Civil War was an agenda item for Balmoral Greens’ homeowners association last year.
The lush, historically rich community in Clifton, Va., has several small, old cemeteries dotting its green common areas. When a large tree fell in one of them, unearthing the remains, the problem arose.
“We decided to go all the way and do re-interment,” said Todd Timm, 51, an architect and Balmoral’s HOA president. With assistance from Fairfax County and Smithsonian Institution experts, the remains were exhumed and the deceased was identified as Mr. Melvin, a free black man from the pre-Civil War period. “Now we’re waiting on a minister to commit the burial,” Timm said.
In addition to its Civil War connections — there are old battle trenches in and near the neighborhood — Balmoral is uniquely linked to the national anti-vice movement of the early 1900s. The neighborhood was part of Ivakota Farm, a Progressive Era reform school and home for unwed mothers and their children. From 1915 to 1925, the compound, which served more than 1,100 women, was headed by prominent anti-vice leader Kate Waller Barrett, president of the National Florence Crittenton Mission. The farm was also used by other charities until it was sold in 1962. In 2007, with approval from Fairfax County, a historic marker relating that history was placed in the community.
“When people move in here, they see the beauty, the wooded, parklike setting, the old-growth forests . . . that’s what brings them,” Timm said. “Then they do research and discover the history of this community and it brings a sense of community pride.”
Most of the 180-home community of primarily Colonial, French-country and international-style houses was built between 1996 and 2002. Timm, an original owner, designed and built his 12,000- square-foot Greek Revival home on a 2.6-acre property in the community’s “estate” section, which includes lots of mostly two to eight acres. The “executive” section, encompassing about 70 percent of the neighborhood’s 1,000-plus acres, has smaller lots, generally one to 1.5 acres.
Close ties: “There’s no gathering place here, so neighbors take the initiative to get together socially,” Timm said. “That bonds people even more — it forces them to go out and knock on doors and form a community.” The approach seems to work: Timm said social activities, often publicized or supported by the HOA include progressive dinners, fall picnics and turkey trots, and wine, book and bunco clubs.
Christine Krstolic, 41, had concerns about forging community ties in a neighborhood with homes so far apart when she moved to Balmoral with her husband, Matt, 38, a construction project manager, and their three young children, in December 2012.
“We lived in [nearby] Little Rocky Run, a great family neighborhood with pools and playgrounds, for eight years, and felt we needed not just a bigger house but more land,” said Krstolic, an at-home mom. “There are little things you think you’re losing when you move from that type of neighborhood to one like this. But you don’t. We do know our neighbors here. Yesterday, we literally borrowed ketchup from the family with six kids that lives across the street.”
Recreation: Balmoral’s sylvan setting includes natural ponds, a creek, horse and multipurpose trails, and acres of woods and parkland. Westfields Golf Club adjoins its northwestern border.
“We can walk down the road to a trail to Bull Run [Regional Park], and to Hemlock [Overlook Regional] Park,” said Krstolic, noting that she often sees neighbors on the trails. “And there are horse farms nearby. . . . The kids love to walk down to visit the horses.”
A favorite family trek is hiking to Clifton’s historic old town. “It’s less than 30 minutes walking with three kids,” Krstolic said. “We have lunch at the [Main Street] pub and then we get ice cream at Peterson’s. You see a lot of people from the neighborhood there.”
Schools: Union Mill and Fairview elementary, Liberty and Robinson middle, and Centreville and Robinson high.
Living there: The neighborhood is bordered, roughly, by Compton Road to the north, Balmoral Forest Road to the east, and Bull Run Regional Park to the south and west.
From May 2012 through May 2013, 10 homes sold, at prices from $800,000 to $1.245 million, said Lisa Clayborne, a real estate agent with Long & Foster.
One contract is pending, at $1.375 million, and three homes are on the market, for $940,000, $965,000 and $1.165 million.
HOA dues, which cover trash service, community management and maintenance of common green space, are $160 a quarter.
The nearest grocery store is four miles away, but it takes only 10 minutes to get there because there’s no traffic, residents say.
Buses run from the Stringfellow Road Park and Ride to the Vienna Metro station. There is VRE commuter rail service to Washington from the Burke Centre station.
Cheryl A. Kenny is a freelance writer.