Boulevard Manor: Our Community Heritage From Land Grant to Subdivision

(Courtesy Anna Belle Lane and The Arlington Historical Magazine, Vol. 8, No 3, October 1987) Rev. Sept. 1998

Our neighborhood has been occupied for 200 years. Native American presence is known by artifacts from the Powhatan Springs area, although no evidence has been found of permanent Indian settlement.

Although much of our community was developed from land owned by the Reeves family, it originated as part of two land grants from the colonial era: one to Thomas Pearson in 1707 of 660 acres and the other to John Ball in 1742 of 166 acres. Most of our community lies within the Pearson grant which ran from what is now Arlington Blvd and N Manchester St to Four Mile Run, northwest to Patrick Henry Drive and I-66, and south through Upton Hill Regional Park to Arlington Blvd. Any land on the east side of the line between N Manchester St and Four Mile Run lay in the John Ball grant which included Glencarlyn.

Thomas Pearson died before 1730 and left his grant to his son, Simon, who in turn left it to his son, Thomas. No one lived on the land until 1740 and 1741 when Thomas Pearson leased the land for the purpose of getting it seated, cleared, and cultivated. Thomas’ son, Simon, inherited the tract, and on his death in 1797 willed his dwelling, plantation and furniture to the son of the woman he had been living with for a number of years and to whom he gave his own name. The rest of his estate was willed to a brother, Thomas.

Meanwhile, it is believed John Ball built a log cabin soon after he received his grant in 1742. This log house is part of the Ball-Sellers house at 5620 Third St S, now owned by the Arlington Historical Society. Mr Ball raised corn, wheat and tobacco. After his death, the 166 acre tract was sold to William Carlin, a tailor from Alexandria.

William Carlin died at the age of 88 in 1820, and his widow died in 1835 before his estate could be settled. He had stipulated in his will that the land was to be divided into lots and sold, the proceeds to be divided between his wife and seven living children. It was difficult to find buyers for the small lots and his will was not settled until twenty-eight years after his death. John L Bladen and his wife bought the last lot, part of which included the section of Boulevard Manor. In 1856 the Bladens sold to W.D. Walloch and his wife, who in turn sold to Ira Lain in 1857.

In the 1840s and 1850s northern farmers were moving south to buy land which had been depleted of fertility by the tobacco crops. One such person was Timothy Bishop Munson who moved with his family from New York to Fairfax County in 1851. Munson started a nursery and raised sheep on the land which took his name, Munson’s Hill, most of which was part of the Pearson tract. Many of the large trees in Washington came from this nursery. Munson’s Hill extended into present day Arlington and included the greater portion of Boulevard Manor, most of Spy Hill, and Stone Ridge. Spy Hill received its name from the scouting activities in the area during the Civil War.

The Civil War also brought some new players to the scene. On his way home after the war a young Confederate soldier, William A. Torreyson, stopped off at Bailey’s Cross Roads to visit his sister. While visiting he met his future wife, they married, and in Feb 1866 he purchased from Ira Lain the tract of land which had been a part of the Carlin estate. Mr Torreyson and his wife set up housekeeping in a log house which was located at about First and S Madison Streets and established a dairy farm. In 1869 Mr Torreyson purchased from the heirs of Timothy B. Munson 94 acres which included that portion of Munson’s Hill extending into what is now Arlington County. The Torreysons soon built a lovely home, Chestnut Grove, near what is now the intersection of First and N Manchester Streets.

Mr and Mrs Torreyson had three children, Duke, Lucy, and Ruth. Miss Lucy fell in love with George Reeves from southern Maryland, who left Maryland and established a farm in Benton, MO.

Mr Torreyson’s health began to fail him and he asked Mr and Mrs Reeves to return to Virginia to assist with the dairy farm, which they did in 1898. In 1902 Mr Torreyson deeded to his daughter, Lucy Torreyson Reeves 77.5 acres on which Mr Reeves established his own dairy farm. This tract included the Carlin tract and the land north of Second St N to Wilson Blvd.

In 1910, one month before his death, Mr Torreyson deeded to his other daughter, Mrs Ruth Torreyson Hupman, the remaining 80 acres of the farm, all of which had come from the Munson’s Hill tract. Mrs Hupman sold the farm to Frank Hummer in 1927 who in turn sold it to Leroy Eakin in 1930.

Mr Eakin plotted 23 lots in the area on the north side of Arlington Blvd and named it Boulevard Manor. The streets were not named except for Montague Rd which was a designated county road, and Montague Circle. A clause in the deeds of these lots stated that no dwelling costing less than $5000 would be erected on the property. Only three lots were sold and only one house was built during that era. Lot 16 was purchased in March 1932 by Amie Henry who built the Spanish style house located at 110 N Montague. Amie Henry and her husband sold their home when he retired in 1968. The front portion of the lot was divided into three lots on which the homes at 202, 204 and 206 Montague St N were built.

Munson H. Lane, Sr bought lot 23 and later sold part to the Courembis Contruction Co to be included in the development of Boulevard Manor as plotted in the 1950s and part to Mr Lebowitz to be included in the development of Spy Hill. It was not until 1946 that Mr Eakin sold the third lot, lot 15, to John Van Strien. Mr Van Strien sold to Mr and Mrs P.R. Rupert in 1948 who in turn subdivided the lot into three. These lots were sold and resubdivided several times. In the 1950s six houses were built on what had been lot 15 in a wedge between Montague and Nottingham Streets.

It is not known when the Reeves’ home, 400 N Manchester St, was built, but it was referred to as the tenant house when Mr and Mrs Reeves moved into it in 1898. It has had two additions since that date. The Reeves had three children, Torreyson, Ruth, and Nelson. The house at 506 N Montana St was built in 1923 when Torreyson was married. He and his wife lived there for a year or so. Nelson and his wife, Louise, lived in this house until Mr and Mrs George Reeves died in 1948. They then moved to the home place which became known as Reevesland.

Ruth Reeves married Munson H. Lane, Sr in 1923, and they moved into a house located at 400 N Lombardy St. This piece of property had been owned by William McElhinny and his wife who used it on weekends. In 1919 they sold it to Mr George Reeves who in turn deeded it to his daughter in 1924. Upon the death of Ruth Reeves Lane, this property was purchased by Mr Driscoll who developed Stone Ridge.

In 1885, John J. McElhinney, a professor at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, and his wife purchased 94 acres from J. Thomas Miller in two transactions. This 94 acres, a section of the Thomas Pearson land grant, extended from Wilson Blvd south along the property line of Upton Hill Regional Park to Arlington Blvd, east to the intersection of Federal Hill on the east side and Arlington Blvd, north in almost a straight line to the intersection of 5th Rd and N Montague St, east on 5th Rd to N Manchester St, north to 8th Rd N and west to Wilson Blvd.

Mr McElhinney died in the mid-1890s, and there began to appear transactions of deeds between his widow and their sons, Rogers J., R.A. and William E.

In 1897 Mrs McElhinney sold land to Mrs Susan K. Uber which included land north from what is now Montgomery Ward to 6th St N. The Ubers built a very nice home near the intersection of Madison and Longfellow Sts. They sold to George Offutt who gave the land to his son, Olin. The house burned, was replace by a smaller one, and was eventually torn down in the 1940s. A county road passed through this area from Wilson Blvd to Leesburg Pike and was known as Uber Rd later to be known as N Ohio St. A section of N Livingston St which runs along Upton Hill Regional Park is all that remains of the road.

In 1904 Mrs. McElhinney sold to George Reeves land which is the section between N Montague St and N Littleton St.

Rogers McElhinney, who never married, was a truck farmer living at 501 N Lombardy St in what was then a three room house. He sold off parts of his land, an acre or two at a time, whenever he was in need of money. Of the ten transactions he made between 1901 and 1910 one was to Augusta B. Porte. About 9 deed transactions later this land was sold to Dominion Hills Recreation Assoc in 1955. Previous to this time this property had been known as Powhatan Springs. It is not known when the present house was built, but William Martin owned it from 1931 to 1938 and rented it. Misses Elizabeth Ford and Raw Holley rented it and served meals to guests. When the owner wanted to raise the rent from $100 per month to $150, they moved as they couldn’t afford the increase. The next tenant used it for a dance hall.

Rogers McElhinney also owned property where the Ashlawn School is located. He divided this land into two sections and sold one to George Reeves and the other to Ed E Ardinger in 1905. Mr Ardinger’s house stood on the corner of what is now 8th Rd and N Manchester. These two lots were obtained by the county in 1955 for Ashlawn School.

Rogers McElhinney’s last transaction was to sell his house and 9/10 of an acre to Munson H. Lane, Sr in 1932. Being elderly and in poor health Mr McElhinney went to live in a nursing home. This property, 501 N Lombardy St, is now the home of Mrs Munson H. (Anna Belle) Lane, Jr.

George Offutt who had bought the Uber property bought the remaining McElhinney property. In 1939 he sold to W.R. Kelly. Courembis Construction Company bought from the heirs of Mr Kelly to build the section of Boulevard Manor from the 501 N Lombardy St property to 6th St and over to Livingston St.

Courembis Construction Co. bought land from J.R. Eakin and the Lucy Torreyson Reeves estate in 1952 and began the construction of houses in Boulevard Manor as replotted at this time from the original Eakin plot of Boulevard Manor.

The Church of the Brethren held Easter sunrise services in April 1955 after acquiring the land from the Lucy Torreyson Reeves estate. The church broke ground on Jan 20, 1957 and held its first service in the new church on Dec 22, 1957. To settle the estate of Torreyson Reeves, the land which was owned jointly by him and his brother and sister was sold in Mar 75 as part of the development of Spy Hill.

Nelson Reeves stopped shipping milk in July 1955 and the last cow left in Dec 1955. The next spring “they broke the barn down”. Hurricane Hazel in Oct 1954 with winds up to 95 mph had already taken down one of the silos. Nelson Reeves still lives in the home place at 400 Manchester St N, and celebrated his 98th birthday there Aug. 29, 1998.