Officially, Fairfax County doesn’t have a Lee Highway or Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway anymore, but months after the names were dropped, they can still be seen on street signs throughout both corridors.
By the end of this month, that should no longer be the case — at least for smaller signs, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation says. A contractor is replacing the small blue signs at street corners with ones identifying the roadways as Route 29 and Route 50, respectively.
“This work is underway, and we anticipate this work to be complete by the end of November,” FCDOT Head of Communications Freddy Serrano told FFXnow.
The process of replacing larger, overhead directional signs, however, isn’t expected to begin until next year.
Getting those signs made and installed will be the Virginia Department of Transportation’s responsibility, though the county is covering all of the costs. A VDOT spokesperson says the department hopes to finalize an agreement with a contractor by the end of this year.
“It will involve 110 signs and it should take about two years to complete from the start of the contract that is anticipated to start in Jan. 2024,” VDOT said by email.
According to Serrano, a preliminary schedule from VDOT estimates that the overhead sign replacements will be finished by the end of 2025.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Sept. 13, 2022 to stop referring to routes 29 and 50 as Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial, names adopted in the early 20th century as nods to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Instead of giving the roadways entirely new names, as Arlington County did with its Route 29 segment in 2021, the board opted to use the route numbers to reduce confusion and the cost of new street signs. FCDOT staff previously said changing the signs would be more challenging for longer names.
At the time of the vote, county staff estimated that the sign updates would cost about $1.4 million. It cost about $46,000 for FCDOT’s contractor to fabricate and install the corner street signs, according to Serrano.
“Most of the costs of the sign replacement will be VDOT’s replacement of the larger overhead signs,” he said. “FCDOT will not have an updated cost estimate for that portion of the sign replacement until VDOT begins their preliminary design.”
County staff estimated it would take another $1.5 million to fund grants to help affected property owners cover expenses for updating business licenses, land records and other documents, as recommended by the Confederate Names Task Force that reviewed the proposed renamings.
On its website, FCDOT says the county “is developing” a financial assistance program, but Serrano confirmed to FFXnow that “the proposed grant program for businesses has not been approved at this time.”
The county updated addresses in its records to reflect the name changes, including for property taxes and voter registrations, on July 5.
Fairfax County has shed another vestige of its Confederate past.
Oak Marr Park, which is home to the Oak Marr RECenter and Golf Center Complex, was renamed “Oakmont” earlier this month by the Fairfax County Park Authority board, which approved the change at its Nov. 8 meeting.
Located at 3200 Jermantown Road, the facilities were originally named after John Quincy Marr, a Warrenton militia captain who became the first Confederate soldier killed by the Union Army in the Civil War.
“The elimination of ‘Marr’ from the name of these park facilities follows the county’s pattern of moving away from names and titles that glorify the Confederacy,” the park authority said.
Until recently, Marr had also been recognized with a stone monument outside the old Fairfax County Courthouse at 4010 Chain Bridge Road. The monument was erected in 1904 by the Daughters of the Confederacy, marking the spot where he died on June 1, 1861, according to the FCPA.
The monument, which was accompanied by two howitzers and a state memorial marker, was the subject of a protest by the local advocacy group Reston Strong in June 2020, ultimately leading to their removal on Nov. 6, 2020.
Continuing a trend that began in 2017 with J.E.B. Stuart High School’s renaming as Justice High School, the Fairfax County History Commission conducted a review that identified more than 26,000 streets and landmarks in the county with names related to the Confederacy.
The most significant change to come out of that review and a subsequent Confederate Names Task Force has been the elimination of Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway as the county’s names for routes 29 and 50. Those renamings took effect on July 5, though the street signs are still being changed.
FCPA staff initially proposed replacing Oak Marr with “Oak District,” noting that the site’s scope and amenities classify it as a district park, per the county’s comprehensive plan. But some board members wondered at an Oct. 25 meeting if the name might create confusion by implying the existence of an Oak magisterial district.
One board member admitted finding it “just a little plain.”
“You cannot incorporate Oakton into the park, because there’s already an Oakton Community Park, although some of the feedback I got indicated folks want Oakton in there somehow,” said Ken Quincy, who represents Oakton as the board’s Providence District member.
Before the board vote on Nov. 8, FCPA Executive Director Jai Cole credited Quincy with proposing Oakmont, noting that it “keeps the O and the M as Oak Marr and Flint Hill next to Oakmont.”
“Sounds like a great idea,” Mount Vernon District Representative Linwood Gorham said, while another board member suggested that it “sounds like a winery.”
An FCPA spokesperson says the park authority is in the process of transitioning its website and registration systems for camps, classes and other services to the new name, a process expected to finish by mid-November.
The signage at the affected facilities will likely take longer to get replaced.
“We do not currently have a set date for the installation of the physical signs at the Oakmont Rec Center and Golf Center as they need to be manufactured and transported to the site,” the spokesperson said. “We will hope to have a better idea of that timeframe within the coming weeks.”
Image via Google Maps
Fairfax County Public Schools is moving forward with a name change for W.T. Woodson High School.
The Fairfax County School Board voted 10-0 with two members absent on Thursday (Oct. 12) to drop former FCPS superintendent Wilber Tucker Woodson as the namesake of the 61-year-old school at 9525 Main Street outside Fairfax City.
The decision came after a month of public outreach in settings both formal — as in a public hearing on Oct. 10 — and informal, according to Braddock District School Board Representative Megan McLaughlin, who brought the issue to the full board last month.
“As a two-generation Woodson family, resident, homeowner, I continue to hold incredible pride for the school and to be a part of this community,” McLaughlin said. “But I also hope that, in our community conversations with each other and having spoken with leaders of our athletic boosters, with our [parent teacher student organization] leaders, with our student leaders, there has been quite an understanding that…as a board and a body, we know how important it is to have names on a building that can inspire all students, our staff and our community.”
As superintendent from 1929 to 1961, Woodson oversaw FCPS during a pivotal period of growth, but the recent discovery of a letter where he denounced integration gave momentum to calls for a name change, including from members of the Black Student Union, McLaughlin previously told FFXnow.
Opposition to renaming the school slightly outweighed support in an online survey that received 1,415 responses from Sept. 15 to noon on Oct. 12, according to a presentation that Superintendent Michelle Reid gave to the school board at Thursday’s meeting.
The balance was tipped mostly by self-identified alumni, some of them old enough to recall “positive interactions” with Woodson as he stayed present in the community after his retirement, McLaughlin said. Concerns included the potential cost and the “very strong connection” some felt to the existing name.
However, a majority of parents or caregivers and “other” respondents — a category that encompassed students, staff and miscellaneous community members — said they are “very likely” to support a name change, which was also favored by all but one of the handful of individuals who testified at the Oct. 10 public hearing.
In a statement read by at-large member Abrar Omeish since she had to leave before the renaming vote came up, the school board’s student representative Rida Karim, a junior at Woodson, said her discussions with fellow students indicated most of them support a change as “a crucial step towards fostering a more inclusive environment.”
“The potential of renaming W.T. Woodson represents a significant step towards justice and unity,” Karim said in the statement. “It serves as a reminder that our present should not be constrained or defined by the past, and a new school name would embody the strength of our community, our compassion and a belief in our commitment to providing for each student, irrespective of their background.”
After last week’s vote, FCPS has shifted into a second phase of community engagement to determine the school’s new name.
The school board proposed Carter G. Woodson, a Virginia native known as the “father of Black history.” More than 450 survey respondents said they would support that, but 369 people suggested alternatives, led by nine submissions of Little River High School in reference to the school’s location near Little River Turnpike.
An online form for feedback and questions on the renaming is now open through Nov. 1. FCPS will hold a community meeting at Woodson High School on Monday, Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. and a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 24. The school board is set to vote on the new name on Nov. 9.
Woodson High School may soon drop “W.T.” from the beginning of its name.
The Fairfax County School Board launched a formal process last week to consider renaming the school just outside Fairfax City, adding it to a growing list of local institutions and landmarks whose monikers have been reevaluated in recent years.
Crediting students with advocating for change, the school board has suggested adopting scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson — the “Father of Black History” — as the school’s namesake in place of Wilbur Tucker Woodson, whose long tenure as Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent included opposition to desegregation.
“I truly believe it will be and can be a remarkable moment for our county, for a solemn reckoning of our county and our Commonwealth’s segregationist past and a reconciliation and a healing,” said Braddock District School Board Representative Megan McLaughlin, who introduced the proposal at a work session on Sept. 12.
The proposal was co-sponsored by six other school board members, including all three at-large members and three other members — Karl Frisch (Providence), Ricardy Anderson (Mason) and Laura Jane Cohen (Springfield) — who also represent portions of the Woodson area.
Now serving over 2,400 students, Woodson was the largest school in Fairfax County and Virginia when it originally opened its doors in fall 1962 — just over a year after W.T. Woodson retired in June 1961, according to FCPS.
Appointed superintendent from 1929 to 1961, Woodson oversaw FCPS as it evolved from a smattering of small schoolhouses into one of the state’s largest districts, growth fueled by the county’s population boom following World War II.
When he died in 1983, a Washington Post obituary described Woodson as “a gradualist” who believed Black and white students should be integrated over time, starting with first graders, rather than all at once.
However, in a 1959 letter to a school board member, Woodson called desegregating schools “most unfair” because it would force “social adjustments to which so many parents strongly object.” In addition to fearing “social mixing,” he warned integration would reduce political and financial support for public schools.
According to McLaughlin, concerns about Woodson High School’s name have cropped up in the past, but it wasn’t given the same priority as schools with clear nods to the Confederacy, like J.E.B. Stuart (now Justice High School), Robert E. Lee (renamed after Rep. John Lewis) and Mosby Woods (now Mosaic Elementary School).
That changed when an FCPS staff member found the 1959 letter while researching the system’s history with segregation, confirming that Woodson’s resistance to integration reflected his personal beliefs, not just adherence to state policy.
“The school board may consider a change in the name of an existing school or facility to ensure an inclusive, respectful learning environment,” McLaughlin told FFXnow. “It’s not inclusive when you have the name of an individual on a building that we now have a document that shows that he believed in the merits of segregation.”
Noting that several of her family members have attended Woodson, including her husband, brothers and children, McLaughlin stressed her desire to approach the renaming process with “humility,” even as she hopes the community will support Carter G. Woodson as an alternate name. Read More
Fairfax County is considering renaming its community center in Bailey’s Crossroads after a mid-20th-century pillar of the Black community.
At a Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday (Tuesday), its first since July, retiring Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross proposed looking into renaming the decades-old Bailey’s Community Center after Minnie Peyton.
Peyton was the well-known matriarch of Springdale, a historically Black community in Bailey’s Crossroads that originated as a home to freedmen after the Civil War.
Peyton founded several local churches and donated land to the county, specifically for an elementary school for Black students. When the school was completed in 1956, per county tax records, Fairfax County was still segregating Black and white students.
Today, the land once occupied by the school is the site of Bailey’s Community Center and Higher Horizons Head Start Program, an early education facility founded in 1963.
Naming the community center after Peyton would be a fitting acknowledgment of her role in the area’s history, Gross said in a board matter.
The Springdale community in Bailey’s Crossroads had its beginnings as home to freedmen following the Civil War, and has nurtured hundreds, perhaps thousands, of families in the last century-and-a-half. As with many traditional Black communities, the residents erected a church and built a small elementary school to educate their children, but the neighborhood received few local services – no paved roads, no sidewalks, no public drinking water or wastewater infrastructure. There is a growing desire in the community to re-name the community center to honor Minnie Peyton and reflect its historic roots.
While advocating for the change, Gross acknowledged that “more research needs to be done” and requested that the Fairfax County History Commission “verify available documentation” before the switch.
Gross gave the commission a deadline of next summer to report its findings.
The Board of Supervisors approved the request unanimously, though no date or timeline was given on when the community center’s name might actually change.
Scott was a former supervisor and represented the county in the Virginia House of Delegates for over two decades. He was most known for advocating for the state’s “motor voter” law, which allowed people to register to vote at DMVs, employment centers, and welfare offices. He died in 2017.
A renaming ceremony for the community center in Oakton will be held on Sept. 30.
Fort Belvoir’s Lee Road is officially being renamed EO 9981 Road in a ceremony this morning (Wednesday).
The name change comes as a result of a 2022 recommendation made by the Congress-backed Naming Commission tasked with coming up with a plan to remove names, symbols, displays, and monuments that honor the Confederacy from all “Army assets.” That includes bases and roads.
Lee Road in Fort Belvoir, a U.S. Army installation, is named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee. But that will officially change when the road gets renamed after Executive Order 9981.
The order integrated the armed services and was signed into law by President Truman on July 26, 1948 — exactly 75 years ago to the day.
“The impact of EO 9981 cannot be overstated,” Fort Belvoir spokesperson Paul Lara told FFXnow. “By removing barriers based on race and fostering a merit-based system, it opened doors for countless men and women, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, to serve their country with dignity, honor, and equal opportunities. It set a powerful precedent for future civil rights advancements within the United States and inspired similar reforms in other sectors of society.”
The public ceremony will start at 10 a.m. today at Woodlawn Chapel (6050 Gorgas Road). Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay will present a proclamation recognizing EO 9981 to Col. Joseph Messina, who commands Fort Belvoir.
The ceremony will also include remarks from author and retired judge Rohulamin Quander, who is a descendant of enslaved servants under George Washington. The event will conclude with the unveiling of the new sign and refreshments.
While the recent effort to rename nine Army bases has gotten most of the attention, roads and buildings are also part of the directive. In the instance of Lee Road, Lara says the decision on the new name was left to Fort Belvoir leadership.
Leadership went with EO 9981 Road because of the order’s significance and because a concept was preferable to a person or place, which would have required significantly more vetting and approvals from the Secretary of the Army, Lara said. A concept, though, allows the renaming to happen quicker.
This won’t be the only Fort Belvoir road that will be renamed. Beauregard Road, Stuart Road, and Johnston Road are also slated for a change, per Lara.
“The possible names are still being decided, but we wanted to act on the 75th anniversary of the Executive Order for this first rededication,” Lara said.
As for Fort Belvoir itself, that name looks to be sticking around, despite ties to the plantation that once stood on the property and its history as the site of Confederate Memorial Day celebrations.
In a final report released last year, the Defense Department Naming Commission noted that it didn’t have the authority to move forward on the renaming of Fort Belvoir, but a change was recommended.
However, the Fairfax County History Commission expressed concerns with the report, citing a lack of transparency, potential historical inaccuracies, and the impact a change might have on telling the stories of enslaved people who lived on the plantation.
Lara confirmed there are “no current plans” at this time to rename Fort Belvoir.
The City of Falls Church has officially decided to reinvest in a 10-block commercial area that encompasses the largest Vietnamese shopping center on the East Coast.
On Monday, June 26, Falls Church City Council unanimously voted to approve the East End Small Area Plan, which proposes reinvestment into a series of commercial properties — including the historic Eden Center (6751-6799 Wilson Blvd) — between Wilson Blvd, East Broad Street and Hillwood Avenue.
The council’s vote comes after the planning commission endorsed the plan on June 7.
With the East End as the last of eight planning areas deemed “underutilized” and in need of reinvestment under the city’s Comprehensive Plan, the council’s vote serves as the long-awaited culmination of two years of dedicated community outreach and organizing.
After the plan was publicly launched in the fall of 2021, local Vietnamese organizers formed Viet Place Collective and worked extensively with the city to craft a plan that adequately represented the thriving Vietnamese community set to be the largest group affected by reinvestment initiatives.
The grassroots organization was lauded by council members for building an unprecedented model of community engagement in local public policymaking that the city hopes to continue.
VPC’s activism continued at Monday’s meeting, where they urged the council to rename the district currently known as the “East End” or Planning Opportunity 5 to “Little Saigon East” in future city planning.
Eden Senior Vice President and General Counsel Alan Frank objected that the name Little Saigon would take away from Eden’s unique, globally recognized branding and cause the shopping center to lose its name recognition in a country full of “Little Saigons.”
“You say that calling the area Little Saigon is not the same as renaming Eden Center, but we’re talking about the same piece of land, so I think that’s not really right,” Frank said. “If we’re going to market something, we need to market it under one name. We need to attract tenants there under one name, and it’s got to be Eden Center located in the city of Falls Church.”
In response, VPC Core Organizer Hoài Nam Nguyễn clarified that the Eden name would not be under threat of replacement.
The shopping center would keep its trademarked name but belong to a new jurisdiction titled Little Saigon that Fairfax County could promote and create signage for without crossing the line between public and private interests, Nguyễn says.
“We want to make sure that people understand that we’re advocating for a name of an area, so this is a greater neighborhood name, and the shopping centers in the area…have autonomy over their name,” Nguyễn said. “So, no one is believing that the Eden Center name will go away — it’s the opposite. We are believing that [the] Eden Center name will be promoted in conjunction with a Little Saigon name and vice versa. Little Saigon and Eden Center can be together and can work together.”
Nguyễn also acknowledged that the East End area is home to other cultures beyond the Vietnamese community but reaffirmed that the name Little Saigon is not meant to be “exclusive.”
“We feel like Little Saigon is a name that acknowledges the Vietnamese people…and Vietnamese businesses in the area but isn’t exclusive to only the Vietnamese,” Nguyễn said. “There’s plenty of other examples where you have a Little Saigon in other parts of the country where not all the businesses in there are Vietnamese either…So, our intent with the name is not to alienate other minorities or other cultures. It’s to pay tribute to and recognize Vietnamese culture, which is the most predominant one in the area.”
Local residents are asking Reston Association to change the name of Shadowood pool once again.
The effort — which previously came up over a decade ago — is primarily underway in order to tackle the assumption that the pool is only for the use of the Shadowood Condominium Association instead of for all RA members.
Residents want to rename the area to South Lakes Recreation Area, which includes the pool and tennis courts at 2201 Springwood Drive, according to materials for the RA Board of Directors meeting on Thursday (June 22).
They argue the name change would improve usability and encourage access for all paying members.
“The Shadowood Pool name change issue has been dragged ad nauseam, but is not going away and it will not go away,” Connie Fiorito, secretary of the Colonial Greene Cluster, wrote in a 2011 memo. “Why? Because even if some may think that it is a mundane issue, it is a real issue for the members whose use Shadowood pool, as shown by the signatures of support.”
The issue first arose in 2009 and 2010 when some residents approached RA for a name change. The board ultimately voted against a change in 2011, citing a lack of the required number of signatories for a petition.
A new official name change request was submitted by Alan Nathanson in December. Staff recommended reviewing the issue soon — but not on an expedited timeline.
“As staff does not believe this item is a high priority in the midst of the park and recreation staff’s busy season, staff recommends the Board take this issue up in the fall and winter in advance of next year’s aquatics season,” staff said in the meeting materials.
Several RA members petitioned the board to approve the name change at a May 25 meeting.
The remainder of the work — including a wading pool conversion — will happen in the off season. The pool is expected to then reopen before the 2024 swim season. First built in 1976, the pool has been replastered several times because surrounding trees drop debris that stain the white plaster surface.
Since then, RA’s board approved $1.1 million for construction-related costs. Renovations include chipping out the tile and coping. A gas line will also run from South Lakes Drive to allow the installation of heaters to heat the main pools.
Repairs to the bathhouse roof, flooring and exterior lighting are also planned, and the wading pool will be converted into an interactive splash pad with a recirculating filtration system to save water.
Fairfax County can officially retire Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway as its names for routes 29 and 50.
The highways will be renamed after their route numbers effective July 5, the county announced today (Thursday).
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Sept. 13 to drop the highway names, which were homages to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, but the Commonwealth Transportation Board didn’t approve the changes until May 24.
“The renaming of both roadways signifies our unwavering dedication to acknowledging the experiences of our community, especially our African American neighbors,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “Thanks to the dedicated work of all the community members who participated in the Confederate Names Task Force, we can put these divisive names behind us and continue to move our County in the right direction.”
According to the county, its records will automatically update on July 5 to reflect the new street names, including for property taxes, voter registrations and Fairfax Water.
However, individual property and business owners will be responsible for updating their address when it comes to their driver’s license, legal documents, utility bills, mail and other services.
The county says it’s developing a grant program to provide financial assistance for those affected by the name changes, though the program needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will replace the road signs, but the county has agreed to cover those costs, which were previously estimated to range from $1 million to $4 million, depending on the length of the new names.
The Board of Supervisors created the Confederate Names Task Force in 2021 after the Fairfax County History Commission identified hundreds of sites bearing names associated with the Confederacy, including Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial highways.
According to the task force’s report, Lee Highway covers about 14 miles from Centreville to Falls Church, with a break in the middle where Route 29 meets Route 50 in Fairfax City. It was named after Robert E. Lee in 1919.
Lee-Jackson Memorial consists of about 8 miles of Route 50 in western Fairfax County. The name was adopted in 1922.
Fairfax County has already decided to rename the Providence Community Center after the late Jim Scott, a former Providence District supervisor and state delegate.
The exact phrasing of the new name, however, remains up for debate.
Fairfax County Neighborhood & Community Services launched a public vote on June 1 to determine which name out of three options should be adopted:
- Jim Scott Community Center at Providence
- Jim Scott Providence Community Center
- Jim Scott Community Center
Votes can be cast online or in person at the Providence Community Center lobby. Respondents are limited to one vote per device.
The poll will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 23.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Oct. 25 to initiate a process to rename the community center after Scott, who represented Providence District on the board for 14 years, starting in 1971. He was then elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1991 and served 11 terms.
Scott died in 2017. Here’s more from the county on his legacy:
During his decades of service in local and state government, Jim was a strong advocate of affordable housing, education and school-based daycare centers, and civil rights. Rep Gerald E. Connolly, former Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, credited Jim as a “gentle but forceful advocate for all who feel powerless.”
Jim championed formation of the School Age Child Care program, which provides Fairfax County children in kindergarten-sixth grade with high-quality before- and after-school educational care. We look forward to naming the building in his honor to recognize and preserve the legacy of Jim Scott’s community-first representation.
Located at 3001 Vaden Drive in Oakton, the Providence Community Center provides classes, summer camps, and other programs as well as meeting space. It operates on Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
It’s also one of 12 additional sites that will open at 9 a.m. tomorrow for early voting.