By Nan Ernst
Steve & Nan Ernst
We think of our neighborhood as “Old Reston” because it belongs to the original planned community built around Lake Anne Village Center. My husband and I have lived for thirty years at Charter Oak Townhouses. Our cluster, constructed in 1969-1970, is one of Reston’s earliest neighborhoods, with 48 townhouses situated on eight acres adjacent to Hidden Creek golf course. When we came in 1989, we joined many original residents. They created a tightknit neighborhood, and that spirit lives on fifty years later, nurturing us and fulfilling the aspirations of Reston’s original planners.
Reston was planned to balance low, middle, and higher density residential clusters, interconnected by walking trails to village centers surrounded by greenbelts. In designing the original Lake Anne part of Reston, open space amenities including the lake and golf course were considered first with residential clusters planned around these features to maximize communal space and long vistas. The “village” concept determined scale and density. The beauty of nature was fostered through “landscape conservation” of the pastoral Bowman Farm in its new role as a golf course and “greenbelt” to the Lake Anne district. The golf course is known today as “Hidden Creek” because it sits astride the Colvin Run watershed. The headwaters of Colvin Run spring out of the ground just before it enters the course, making it the clearest stream in Reston. The golf course is part of Reston’s identity as memorialized in place names such as Fairway Apartment and Golf Course Island cluster. Open fairways and tree canopy provide a haven for birds and small woodland creatures. Restonians walking on the trails through Hidden Creek golf course take in rolling hills, stately oaks, towering poplar trees, and blooming azaleas, big blue skies by day and starry skies by night. We revel in this green community. Reston’s concept of village centers surrounded by greenbelts has been recognized as a significant planning and architectural achievement. Accordingly, Fairfax County designated Lake Anne Village Center as an “Historic Overlay District” in 1983. Later, Lake Anne Village Center was recognized as a Virginia historic landmark, and in 2017 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Lake Anne district showcases the “new town” movement with its social, architectural and land-use innovations that are internationally recognized for influencing other planned communities throughout the world. The heritage value of Lake Anne Village Center is protected by its status on the National Register of Historic Places, but it could become just a tiny remnant—a small historical artifact—if overbuilding is permitted in the surrounding neighborhoods that constitute original Reston. This heritage needs broader protection, which is why Rescue Reston is working to preserve all of Reston’s dwindling open green space and to maintain current density. First, there was a vision of a garden city, a community open to all races, ages, and incomes. Planning was the tool: “residential clusters, mixed-use development, landscape conservation, ample recreational space, walking and biking trails, and public art,” as it says on the commemorative plaque at Lake Anne Village Center. Our task is to preserve and extend this heritage as Reston leaps into the future. 56
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