ARLINGTON, VA – A large Victorian house on Washington Blvd., where the first chairman of the Arlington County Board once lived, was demolished earlier this month to make way for new homes to be built on the site.
The Fellows-McGrath House, built in 1889, was formerly the residence of Harry Andrew Fellows, who was Mayor of Falls Church and who became the first chairman of the newly formed Arlington County Board in 1932. The house, 6404 Washington Blvd., later became a bed and breakfast known as the Memory House.
With land large enough to build two new homes, the Fellows McGrath home buyer likely got a bargain when they paid just over $ 1 million for the home.
The land that is currently being assessed is set to become the site for two new homes. With Arlington being the hottest housing market in Northern Virginia, the new homes could easily sell for $ 2-3 million each.
Conservation Arlington is tracking demolition permits and by late September the group found that more than 15 other homes on individual lots in Arlington had sold for more than $ 1 million in 2021 and then demolished. However, the Fellows-McGrath House was on a double lot, as were several other homes in 2021 that sold for over $ 1 million.
Many Arlington residents and heritage officials had hoped the county would do more to save the Fellows McGrath House.
Arlington County approved approved land disruptive activity for the Fellows McGrath house in August and approved a demolition permit in September. The house was demolished on December 6th.
Arlington County approved land disruption activity permit for the Fellows McGrath house in August and approved a demolition permit in September. The house was demolished on December 6th. (Mark Hand / Patch)
“I wish the county were more willing to invest in saving historic homes as they have in the past,” said Charlie Clark, columnist for Falls Church News-Press, who also chairs the Arlington Historical SocietyThe Preservation Committee said in an email to Patch. “But elected officials still feel burned by what they ultimately saw as the lavish 2001 Reeves Farmhouse purchase.”
After purchasing the Reeves Farmhouse 20 years ago, Arlington officials could not find adequate use for it.
“While activists cannot completely override the laws of market supply and demand, conservationists, both county and volunteer workers such as the Arlington Historical Society and Arlington Preservation, can monitor developments and raise early warning signals when important property is threatened.” said Clark, whose new book “Lost Arlington County, “offers readers a glimpse of the businesses, homes, and amusements that have come and gone in Arlington as the county became a vibrant suburb of the country’s capital in the 1900s.
After eight months in the market, the Fellows-McGrath home was sold to FNM Investments LLC in February for $ 1,088,295, according to Arlington County’s real estate records.
Manassas’ agent Masum Kahn, who owns FNM Investments, bought the house building modern homes, Clark reported in a column for the Falls Church News-Press.
Demolish the house “would be a pityClark wrote.
“The green and red house (3,221 square feet, with built-in china cabinets) is not just a landmark, it was the home of the only man who was executive director for both Falls Church and Arlington County for 43 years,” he wrote.
Harry Andrew Fellows bought the house in 1900 with his wife Alice. Harry died in 1943 while Alice died in 1971 at the age of 105, according to Clark. The house was then bought by John and Marlys McGrath.
“Most builders (most Arlington people, in fact) aren’t that interested in history,” Clark said in his email to Patch. “So the trick is to network and find the right buyers and contractors, while maybe educating to change some minds along the way.”