The modern architecture and wooded landscapes of the Hollin Hills neighborhood in southern Fairfax County have always been valued by the residents who live there. Now, the entire community is recognized as a state treasure.
Hollin Hills was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in late June and has been recommended to the National Park Service for addition to the National Register of Historic Places.
The community first “got serious” about applying for the register about a decade ago, said Jere Gibber, the co-chair of the committee that worked on the lengthy nomination package.
“It was a lot of volunteering by neighbors, plus we hired a consultant who helped,” Gibber said.
Construction of Hollin Hills began in 1946 and continued through 1971.
The neighborhood’s unique style is the result of a partnership between architect Charles Goodman and builder Robert Davenport.
Goodman designed homes that blended with the natural topography, incorporating large expanses of glass. Other key architectural elements of his designs are open floor plans, exposed wooden framing and the use of V-shaped “butterfly” roofs.
The lots that Davenport laid out are not the typical rectangular lots but instead follow the natural contours of the land.
Goodman sold his designs nationally, said Lena Sweeten McDonald, national/state register historian with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
“He was one of the most successful architects in Virginia that was designing in the modern style,” McDonald said.
Goodman also made an effort to make his homes affordable by using techniques that reduced the cost of construction, she said.
Even though the neighborhood was built out over the course of several decades, “the whole time they adhered to the same sort of architectural vision,” McDonald said.
Another key thing that makes Hollin Hills stand out from other postwar neighborhoods is how little it has changed since it was built, she added.
Gibber said the design review committee of the Hollin Hills Civic Association is one of the primary reasons the neighborhood has maintained its architectural integrity.
“Without the design review committee, we would look like many other communities that have had changes over time,” Gibber said, such as people tearing down and rebuilding homes. “It’s a very well-designed community and, for the most part, it has been able to stay that way.”
Hollin Hills just recently became old enough that it could truly be considered for the historic registers, McDonald said, and both residents and state preservationists are happy to finally see it on the list.
“We’re very proud to see this historic district being listed,” she said.