Across from townhouses at South Four Mile Run Drive and Shirlington Road… (Audrey Hoffer/For The Washington…)
Cord Thomas, 31, is a newbie in Nauck, having moved to the Arlington County community 21/2 months ago.
Thomas exchanged a townhouse in Arlington Village for a 1960s brick rambler with a large back yard. Surrounding him are homes built in the 1940s and ’50s, an architectural mix he finds visually appealing. He also enjoys biking to his job in Ballston.
Like many residents, Thomas appreciates the neighborhood’s diversity and history. Nauck is home to African Americans, Hispanics and whites; old and young; professional and blue-collar.
Nauck is the oldest African American neighborhood in Arlington. The Levi and Sarah Jones family were among the first African Americans to buy land and build a house there in 1844. Then residents of the nearby Freedman’s Village, recently freed slaves, moved there. And in 1874, D.C. resident John D. Nauck purchased 46 acres, subdivided them and sold lots to other black families.
The neighborhood was a stop on the migration route, which took shape at the end of the Civil War, from the south to Freedman’s Village, according to a draft book of the history of the Nauck community by Alfred O. Taylor Jr., 79, president of the civic association and longtime community activist, that will be published soon.
“It’s quiet, the houses have unique characteristics, everyone is welcoming, [Arlington County] is investing money here, and it’s really nice to have diversity in the neighborhood,” Thomas said. “My neighbors are from all different walks of life, and that’s great.”
Old and new attractions: Retail outlets and churches in the community reflect Nauck’s history and modern-day needs.
The community still has an array of commercial enterprises and services that were established many years ago to cater to the African American community. Four churches anchor the neighborhood — Lomax AME Zion, Mount Zion Baptist, Our Lady Queen of Peace and Macedonia Baptist.
Green Valley Pharmacy, established 62 years ago by Leonard Muse, was designated an Arlington Historic District in January. Muse, 90, clad in a white lab coat, is still in charge of the operation. As customers lined the counter to make purchases recently, he admitted to a visitor that he hopes to turn the shop over to his 29-year-old granddaughter, who lives in Rosslyn.
The community is served by a variety of newer retail offerings, including restaurants in adjacent Shirlington; one Giant Food supermarket on Columbia Pike and another on Glebe Road; Potomac Yard, five to 10 minutes away by car; and downtown Washington, an easy 10-to-15-minute drive.
Nature beckons: Sidewalks and streets are wide. The gently rolling terrain turns steep occasionally, and houses high up command panoramic views of Arlington and Washington. “When I stand on my front steps, I can see the planes land at the airport and I can pick out sites downtown,” said Taylor, the community historian.
The Washington & Old Dominion Trail is a popular footpath for strolling, running and biking that extends 45 miles to Leesburg. A bank of red Capital Bikeshare bikes sits adjacent to the trailhead.
Parks dot the neighborhood, with benches, shade trees, grass, colorful play equipment and recreational offerings for all — Drew Park, with its sprayground; Fort Barnard Park; Walter Reed Community Garden, with an adjacent dog exercise area; Jennie Dean Park; Nauck Park; and Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center. Army Navy Country Club members are footsteps away from the sprawling, verdant grounds.
New gathering spot: Roughly a whole block at 24th Road South and South Shirlington Road will be revitalized as part of Arlington Public Art’s project for Nauck Town Square, said Chikwe Njoku, a county staffer.
County officials are looking for a landscape architect and artist who will engage community residents to find out how they want to use the space and how it can best reflect the area’s history. Local input will inform the design of the public plaza that will become the neighborhood social and cultural center.
In the meantime, the community will assemble on the site for fun and games on Sept. 21 to celebrate Nauck Civic and Community Pride Day.
Living there: Nauck is a semi-triangular piece of land bordered by 16th Road South to the north, Army Navy Country Club to the east, Four Mile Run Drive to the south and Walter Reed Drive to the west.
The available housing in Zip code 22204 is varied and includes small and medium-size single families, condominiums, new three- and four-level red-brick townhouses and older red-brick two-story garden apartment complexes.
“Housing here is more easily in reach of ordinary people, both professionals and blue-collar workers,” said Mike Webb, an associate broker with Re/Max Allegiance and the real estate agent who sold Thomas the property.
Old houses are being fixed up, and tear-downs are replaced with much larger structures.