Another Arlington Historic Site to Be Demolished

Comments at Arlington Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board on January 27, 2021.

I’m here to speak on behalf of local historic designation for the Rouse estate. While I applaud HALRB’s efforts to use historic designation to forestall redevelopment of the site, I am concerned that no one has attempted to designate the property historic till now.

According to County Attorney Steve MacIsaac at the January 23 County Board meeting, trying to get historic designation at this late date is a race against time. The County is poised to approve the demolition permit any day. At the County Board meeting Matt de Ferranti also mentioned that the cost of acquiring the property is prohibitive.

Yet in its Public Spaces Master Plan the County has committed to acquiring 30 acres of land over the next ten years (p. 55).

The county will have to spend money to keep its pledge regardless of where the land is purchased. Why not the 9-acre Rouse estate and historic farm house, unless of course the County’s pledge was made in bad faith?

In this connection I remind HALRB that in 2017 the County demolished the historic Wilson School located in North Rosslyn. At that time I pointed to the Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue, newly renovated by Donald Trump into a luxury hotel. No pains were spared by the Trump family to restore the Post Office Pavilion to its original grandeur. Yet across the river here in Arlington limousine liberals thought nothing of trashing a building designed by a noted 19th century architect that was habituated by an American president—a Democrat no less.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly referred to Donald Trump as an embarrassment to the nation. Yet what could be more embarrassing than a government that doesn’t keep its commitments? Say what you will about Donald Trump. One thing is certain. He kept his commitments. Arlington County by contrast has made a sham of its commitment to historic preservation and parkland acquisition—manifesting a lack of cultural appreciation that would embarrass even Donald Trump.