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Arlington Considers Future Of Its Last Dairy Farm

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The farmhouse at Reevesland, the site of the last working dairy farm in Arlington, Va.
Michael Pope
The farmhouse at Reevesland, the site of the last working dairy farm in Arlington, Va.

The cows are long gone, and the house is shuttered. Yet from the top of a hill at the edge of Bluemont Park, it's easy to see how this could have been a dairy farm.

"The really unique thing about this place is that when you're sitting on the front porch looking down towards the park, you can still understand Arlington as a rural area," says Arlington historic preservation coordinator Michael Leventhal.

Yes, Arlington was once a rural area with cows and farms -- something that's difficult to see today. Difficult unless you're at Reevesland, which was a working dairy farm from the 1860's to the 1950's, when Nelson Reeves operated the last dairy farm in Arlington.

He continued to live there until he died in the year 2000.

"He was a delightful person," says Ron Battocchi, who lives next to Reevesland. "In fact, I think in an idealized world, all neighbors would be like Mr. Reeves. If Arlington were still somewhat rural, I don't think this would have nearly the significance. As Arlington is evolving, and you know, it's all high-rises and these corridors, something like this would be just unique."

A decade ago, Arlington County purchased Reevesland with the intention of preserving it. But little has changed here. So last year Larry Goldschmidt and several of his neighbors in the Boulevard Manor Civic Association approached the county about doing something with the historic property.

"We became increasingly concerned that nothing was happening here," says Goldschmidt. "The house was vacant, and there's always the danger it will deteriorate."

One idea is to transform the house and the land into a learning center, where schoolchildren could learn about farming and history. Neighbor Joan Horwitt says the idea is building momentum.

"Six hundred people signed the letter in support of the Reevesland Learning Center in three communities," says Horwitt. "And they said that we want to be able to continue the legacy of Nelson Reeves and his family."

In the coming months, Arlington leaders hope to move forward on the idea.

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Michael Pope is also a reporter with the Connection Newspapers who provides special coverage of Northern Virginia for WAMU 88.5. His story for the Connection can be found at ArlingtonConnection.com.  

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