Rowena Viar and Garth Viar


GARTH VIAR: Well, we moved to the Groveton area in 1930, 1934, down where Perkins Pancake House is now. The house was a white stucco house. Right across the street there was a motel called Evelyn Inn. The Penn Daw Hotel was there and there was big mansion down where K-Mart is now, called Spring Bank, which dated back to colonial times.

ROWENA VIAR: I think that was one of the Mason homes originally. I don't know the details on it but I'm sure it was owned by a Mason.

GARTH VIAR: It was just torn down. Well it had deteriorated, just a little of it left, that's what they tore down and built K-Mart. There was Beacon Airport where the Beacon Mall Shopping Center is now which was run by a fellow by the name of Reid. His father owned all that land and also had a big mansion about where Memco is now. Memco or Holly Farms, right along in there.

ROWENA VIAR: Arthur Godfrey used to keep his airplane there. He used to fly to that airport before he became a national T. V. star, radio star. He used to be on local radio, WJSV, which is now WTOP.

GARTH VIAR: They also used to have horse shows up there at the Beacon Airport, that was after they stopped using it as an airport. The horse shows were sponsored by the fire department. The horse shows were one of the factors in the building of the fire department. We got no money from the county because it was strictly a volunteer fire department.

Right where Bucknell Heights is, where the elementary school is at the crown of that hill, is where my father, Bill Viar, had his stables. Where Bucknell Manor is, is where our riding trails were. We used to rent horses, train jumping horses and show horses. Quite a few, of them come out of there were the best. I guess one of the best known jumping horses all up and down the east coast was named "Hijack." The horse could jump 6 1/2 foot and could get up to 7 foot.

ROWENA VIAR: When we moved down here to this area, it was real country. Some of the vacant lots that had not been built on, in Groveton, still had little corn stubbles where they had cut down corn, cause it had been farm. All of that was farm land. They had just started building the Groveton subdivision when we first moved out here. Where the old Groveton High School is now Bryant, had been farm owned by a fellow name of Burt Ayres. He had a dairy farm and then they made it into a gravel pit.

GARTH VIAR: Burt Ayers and Lud Popkins used to ride in the jousting tournaments. That was before we moved to Groveton. Lud Popkins, his farmland, joined right into Burt Ayers. That's all houses now. Just past going up Popkins Lane, past where the old Groveton High School is, where the stone houses are, that was just cow pastures.

Where National Airport is now that was all river. They put gravel on top of all those woods and everything. Most of that gravel that went into National Airport came out of Burt Ayres gravel pit. What didn't come out of that pit came out of my father's pit which is right across the road where the telephone building is.

ROWENA VIAR:Then where that gravel pit is, was originally Ayres' property too, cause we bought it from Ayres.

GARTH VIAR: Off of King's Highway, where Stoneybrooke is, there's a little subdivision in there. That house there dates back to colonial times. I don't know the exact history on it but I do know its been remodeled. They say that even on a foggy morning or evening you can stand on the porch of that place and see a coach and four horses driving around the circular driveway. Thats been a legend for a long time. I think they even wrote about it in the Gazette a couple years ago.

Over next to Mount Comfort Cemetery on Kings Highway there's a big hollow there, they call Dead Man's Hollow. That's supposed to date back quite a few years. Somebody got killed in that hollow and they say that his ghost still comes back.

There was the Nightingale, it dates back to the 30's. The original Nightingale Club, right where the 1320 club is now, it burned down. It was made of logs. The logs came from the property where Woodley Hills trailer court is now, and Mr. Nightingale built a larger one that operated as the Nightingale Night Club.
Down on North Kings Highway across where the Jefferson Manor Shopping Center is there used to be a great big white mansion. That was called Mt. Eagle Club which dated back to colonial times, was originally a colonial home.

We had this one goat who liked to drink beer. He was quite a beer drinker. He would sit down on his hind legs and hold his front paws up and hold a bottle of beer. He would use them like bare hands and hold the beer bottle and drink the whole bottle of beer, You would never want to leave a 2 x 4 or anything leaning against the barn or he would go up on the roof of the barn. He could get up but he couldn't get back down, so you would have to go up and get him.

Down where Bucknell Manor is there used to be a pack of wild dogs, 25-30 in the pack. I guess they roamed through that part 5 or 6 years before they were ever rounded up. They had gone wild and ran in a pack, just like a pack of wolves.

The gypsies came in somewhere around '39. I don't know whether they caused any trouble. They did have a gypsy camp. They sort of stayed to themselves.

Over where Georges is now, they had sort of a restaurant called "Mom's Place" which, in comparing then to now, would be more or less like a truck stop. They had some cabins and a few gypsies moved into those cabins and then they set up gypsies stand. There was quite a few of them, they even came in with children. They didn't have the gypsy wagons as portrayed in the movies but they had trucks with bodies built on them. I guess they would be equivalent to the old conventional gypsy wagons. There might be still some living in the area right now.

ROWENA VIAR: Seems to me there was another group of them over around the Fort Hunt area. Of course, they always used to say they were part Indian.

GARTH VIAR: There used to be an airport called the Hybla Valley airport. It was like Beacon Airport, privately owned, private planes. All of that was originally designed for what they called an air junction back in the 20's and 30's. It was a dirigible airport called the Mount Vernon Air junction where Lockheed Boulevard comes off of Fordson Road. There was a little building on the east side of what is now known as Lockheed Boulevard.

It's like a little office building on each side of what is now Lockheed Boulevard, with a big archway over top of it that said "Mount Vernon Air Junction." You could walk through this archway. One of the buildings went into this archway, you could walk across and come down the ladder over on the other side. I used to play in them when I was a kid.

ROWENA VIAR: What's the name of that Motel up there by the house where we used to live?

GARTH VIAR: It's the John Yancey Motel now. I think, it used to be called the Wagon Wheel.

ROWENA VIAR: There's a restaurant, and in back of that a big house. We lived in that house at one time. And that's where they used to come play. Well it was really deserted at that time except that Mr. Aicholz lived in part of it.

GARTH VIAR: Mr. Aicholz was sort of a hermit, I guess you might say. He lived by himself, he raised pigs and he more or less squatted in one of those buildings. But anyway that was set up for a dirigible airport and then after the Hindenberg crashed they called it off. So it never did materialize. The Navy had part of the land which Fairfax County later got.

Volume Two, Table of Contents
Snake Hill to Spring Bank Homepage

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