When Joanne Sweeney and her husband, Kevin, began house hunting in 1989, they looked for a house to meet the needs of their growing family. A 1910 Foursquare in Arlington’s Ashton Heights neighborhood spoke to them.
Even as their family expanded to four children — who now range in age from 17 to 21 — they opted to enlarge their home and stay put rather than leave the neighborhood and/or move into a more modern place.
“I just like older houses,” Joanne Sweeney said. “I always have.”
Jodie Flakowicz and her husband were living in San Diego when they decided to return to Ashton Heights, where she lived many years ago.
“It’s a cozy place,” said Flakowicz, who serves as secretary of the Ashton Heights Civic Association. “My husband and I moved here because we like to walk as much as possible instead of driving our car.”
Besides, Ashton Heights is within easy reach of the District, Interstate 395, Interstate 66, Reagan National Airport and Union Station.
They can go on foot to just about everything they need and “have access to two Metro stations nearby if we need to go farther,” she said.
Charming older homes, a child-friendly atmosphere and accessibility to the city have made Ashton Heights popular among newcomers and longtime residents for many years.
Variety of housing styles: In 1919, a real estate developer named Ashton C. Jones bought 61 acres in the area and mapped two subdivisions on what is now either side of Pershing Drive, according to the Ashton Heights Style Guide. He combined the two subdivisions and in 1921 named the neighborhood Ashton Heights. Another real estate firm added more lots, as did other developers.
Most houses were built between 1920 and 1945, while others are older and some were added after World War II, between 1945 and 1965. Since then, larger houses have been added, sometimes replacing a torn-down one dating to an earlier period.
A variety of styles dot the neighborhood, including Colonial — the most prevalent — as well as bungalows and Cape Cods, according to the Ashton Heights Style Guide. Other styles include Foursquares and Tudor Revival, as well as a few Sears catalogue houses, said Scott Sklar, president of the Ashton Heights Civic Association.
The Ashton Heights Style Guide was created by Arlington County Community Planning, Housing and Development’s Neighborhood Services Division; the Neighborhood Conservation Program; the Historic Preservation Program Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee; and the NCAC Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board.
In addition to their proximity to the District, Ashton Heights and the adjacent neighborhood, Lyon Park, share a North Irving Street boundary, with houses on the east side of the street belonging to Lyon Park and those on the west side to Ashton Heights.
Children from the two neighborhoods attend the same public schools. The communities also sponsor some joint activities, including the Lyon Park Parade of Costumes held Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. At dusk, residents gather at Lyon Park for a bonfire.
Ashton Heights had its own elementary school until 1973, first called Clarendon School at Wilson Boulevard and Monroe Street, dating to 1910 with an addition in 1954.
It was renamed the Matthew Maury School in 1924, according to the Ashton Heights Style Guide. The Classical Revival-style building, according to the National Register of Historic Places, was renovated in 1977 to become the home of the Arlington Arts Center, a nonprofit contemporary visual arts center. It features exhibitions, educational programs and subsidized studio spaces in 17,000 square feet.
What’s nearby: Ashton Heights has easy access to Clarendon’s shopping for those who prefer walking to driving. Market Common, a mixed-use development of retail stores and restaurants, office space, townhouses, open public space and public parking was developed between 2000 and 2003, changing the landscape of the area. In addition, both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are options. For others, getting in the car for grocery shopping is a choice they make to reach Seven Corners, the Giant on Washington Boulevard, or Target and Safeway.
“The biggest change to Ashton Heights is the intensity of the development around Clarendon,” said Jim Terpstra, historian of the Ashton Heights Civic Association.
Living there: Ashton Heights is bounded by Wilson Boulevard to the north, North Irving Street to the east, North Glebe Road to the west and Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) to the south. Within Ashton Heights’ borders are the Ballston Common Mall, Columbia Gardens Cemetery and the Buckingham post office.
In the past 12 months, 26 properties have sold, with one sale pending and three active listings, according to Ron Cathell, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in McLean. They range from a four-bedroom, four-bath bungalow that sold for $1.625 million to a Colonial-style two-bedroom, four-bath townhouse that sold for $570,000.
There are three properties on the market, ranging from a five-bedroom, six-bath Craftsman listing for $1.649 million to a three-bedroom, two-bath 1920 Craftsman listing for $735,000.
Schools: Long Branch Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Middle and Washington-Lee High.
Transit: Ashton Heights can be reached from the Virginia Square Metro stop on the Orange and Silver lines, though for some, the Clarendon Metro stop is closer. Buses that serve the area include the 38B Metrobus and various Arlington Transit routes.
Crime: During the past 12 months, according to Arlington County police, there were 7 aggravated assaults, 9 robberies and 11 burglaries.
Harriet Edleson is a freelance writer.