Barcroft Neighborhood History
From the Barcroft Neighborhood Conservation Plan,
with some amendments
See below for many more historical materials.
The Barcroft community traces its history to the time of George Washington, who surveyed the land and may have built a gristmill here. George Washington Parke Custis later built the Arlington Mill on Four Mile Run near Columbia Pike. Custis' mill was destroyed during the Civil War.
Barcroft neighborhood owes its name to Dr. John
Dr Barcroft built and operated a mill after the Civil War on the foundations of the Arlington Mill. It was said to have the largest mill wheel on the east coast.
Dr. Barcroft, a physician and inventor, had also owned a mill further west on Columbia Pike at Holmes Run, beyond Baileys Crossroads, for which Lake Barcroft is named. He died in 1895, but continues to get votes from our precinct in elections today. Thanks to one of his descendents we have some genealogical data on him.
The earliest homes in the neighborhood were built near Columbia
Pike beginning about 1892 as the subdivision of Corbett. This
area was resubdivided under the "Barcroft" name in 1903.
The community grew to the north and east, and homes gradually
filled in the area of the current Barcroft neighborhood. From
1918 through the 1950's, builder Walter O'Hara and his son Robert
built several hundred Barcroft homes in a variety of styles.
The neighborhood also has at least one Sears home and one Lustron
enameled steel home. Today the central part of Barcroft has a
mix of homes built between the 1880's and the 1980's, most of
them more than 30 years old. Beginning in the 1960's, townhouses
and apartment buildings were built on the edges of the neighborhood
along Columbia Pike, South George Mason Drive and Arlington Boulevard.
The neighborhood's first retail establishment was a country store
built about 1885 and owned by Oscar Haring. It was located on
Columbia Pike at Four Mile Run. Oscar Haring's store gave way to the Barcroft Shopping Center in 1949, and other retail establishments now line Columbia Pike.
In the early years of the twentieth century, many Barcroft families
commuted to Washington on the railroad along Four Mile Run now
known as the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD). The first
rail line was built in 1850, with the stop at Columbia Pike handling
passengers, grain for the mill and live animals. The
rail connection was important until paved roads offered more convenience for motorized vehicles. A bus service began in 1919, and gradually the rail service was discontinued, with passenger service ending in 1932 and freight service ending in 1968.
Barcroft's neighborhood civic association, originally known as
the Barcroft Citizens Association, has been in continuous operation
since at least 1907. The name was changed in 1908 to The Barcroft
School and Civic League (BSCL) when the Barcroft School moved
into the newly constructed Barcroft Community House at 8th Street
South and South Buchanan Street. The school moved to its present
location on South Wakefield Street in 1925. The Barcroft Community
House has now been designated as a local Historic District, and
is the neighborhood's most important landmark.
The community's first newspaper, a tiny but well written neighborhood newsletter, was published for a time in 1903. Publication resumed in later years, and the Barcroft News still chronicles neighborhood events.
Throughout its history as a neighborhood, Barcroft has been a
quiet residential area whose residents prize its tranquility,
ease of access to the District of Columbia, and friendly neighbors.
Our Collection of
Barcroft Neighborhood History
A history of Barcroft - by Mildred Handy Ritchie
Our first newsletter, the 1903 Barcroft News
Our historical photos
History of the Barcroft School and Civic League, by Charlotte Manning
Barcroft: The Beginnings of a Suburban Neighborhood (1886 to 1920), Revised. By Elizabeth J. Walter (2010 revision)
Presidents of the Barcroft School and Civic League
Our 2003 Centennial Celebration - A play dramatizing early Barcroft
Our Neighborhood Conservation Plan (with a history section)
A map of Barcroft in 1915
A map of Barcroft in 1951. Note the streets not yet built.
A map of our current streets and parks.
Our neighborhood Census Data.
Original Barcroft Elementary School drawings
Barcroft Bible Church photos by former Pastor Marlin Hardman
The Outhouse at the Barcroft Community House. Barcrofters had no indoor plumbing until the mid-1930's. The BSCL had a Sanitation Committee to deal with issues.
Barcroft Walkabout. A ten minute walking tour of the neighborhood.
History of Columbia Pike with some Barcroft info.
The letter from Arlington County documenting designation of the Barcroft Community House as a local Historic District.
This page was revised on: October 17, 2012.