Summer Activities on the Green and at the Freeman Store

Visitors to the Town Green, located between Maple Avenue and the rear of the Freeman Store, are reminded that the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  When you run in to buy a soda or some candy, please take the time to appreciate that you are stepping back into another era, where an actual Storekeeper reaches into a glass display jar to pull out a candy stick or a jawbreaker, where you can explain to a child how a crank-operated, wall-mounted telephone works and where a family really did “live above the store.”  Our “Roads To Rails To Trails:” exhibit continues through the summer months, as does a mini-exhibit on the War of 1812 and our Museum Rooms offer a look into the past with period decorations and displays.

The concert schedule for the Town Green offers something for everyone – blues, military bands and choruses, jazz, country, bluegrass, rock.  Starting times are usually 6:30, music lovers are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets (but no alcohol and pets are discouraged).  A full schedule of concerts is available on the Town website.

The End Of An Era: On Mayo Stuntz’s Passing

Mayo Stuntz portrait

Historic Vienna Remembers Local Historian Mayo S. Stuntz
by Laine Hyde, Historic Vienna Inc. Secretary

Among the small number of video histories collected by Historic Vienna, Inc. is a tape of a one-hour interview with Mayo Stuntz.  Despite a career in government and private enterprises, Mayo – he was one of those “one name suffices to identify him” people – was usually known primarily as  Historian.    Together with his wife Connie, he produced numerous books on Vienna and other local subjects; primary among these was “This Was Vienna, Virginia: Facts and Photos,” considered an invaluable historical resource.

Mayo was born in the heart – the very heart – of the Town, in a home at the intersection of Old Courthouse Road and Maple Avenue.  This would explain not only why in recent years a “Happy Birthday, Mayo” sign would appear in October in front of JiffyLube but also how he came to know from personal, life-long experience, the history of his home town.  He was there.  He went to Vienna Elementary, walking home for lunch.   The family moved all the way to the edge of Vienna and he spent most of his life living in that home, eventually raising a new generation there.  A list of “served on” would include the Fairfax History Commission and the little group which advised the Town on the restoration of the Freeman House and eventually became Historic Vienna, Inc.  He lived to see the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.  Throughout his life and most particularly in retirement, he was always willing – enthusiastically willing – to share his memories, his experience and his love of history with groups or individuals.

Mayo Stuntz died on May 9 at the age of 97.  His contributions live on.

Official Obituary: Mayo S. Stuntz, Sr. (Age 97)
Passed away on May 9, 2013.  Born in Vienna, VA in 1915, attended Cornell University, served in the U.S.Army in the Pacific (Lt. Col, Ret.), had a 25 year career in the Central Intelligence Agency, and was a well-known local historian and co-author.  Beloved husband of 66 years of Constance Pendleton Stuntz.  Father of Anne (Brad Swanson), Reid (Linda), and Mayo Jr. (Elizabeth).

Grandfather of Allison Schulte (Ben), James (Mollie O’Rourke), Katie, Joe (Michelle), Grace, Jay Swanson, Charles Swanson and Steve Swanson.  Great Grandfather of Audrey Rose Schulte.
The family will receive visitors on Wednesday, May 15 from 2-4PM and from 6-8PM at the Money and King Funeral Home in Vienna, VA. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, May 16 at 1PM at the Vienna Presbyterian Church.  Interment will be at 4PM at the Flint Hill Cemetery, Oakton, VA.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Vienna Presbyterian Church or Historic Vienna, Inc. in Vienna, VA.

Spring Membership Meeting: The W&OD Railroad’s Civil War History

Time: 7:00 PM
Date: Thursday, March 28
Location: Dyer-Gunnell American Legion Post 180

The Spring Membership Meeting of Historic Vienna, Inc. will be held on Thursday, March 28, at 7 PM at the Dyer-Gunnell American Legion Post 180 (330 Center Street North, Vienna).  Following a brief business meeting and announcements, the Speaker for the evening will be local historian and reenactor Jon Vrana.  The Social Hall entrance is on the second floor.  Please drive around the building and park at the upper level.

Mr. Vrana is currently President of the Burke Historical Society, Board Member of the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum, and has served on the Fairfax County Sesquicentennial Committee.  He has vast experience as a living history civilian and military reenactor and has appeared as Senator Justin Morrill, Capt. Samuel Means, Henry Thomas Harrison and Col. Silas Burke.

At the HVI Membership Meeting, Mr. Vrana will discuss the history of the Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad and others which ran through Vienna from 1855 to 1968.  The exhibit “Roads to Rails to Trails” is currently open in the Freeman Store exhibit room and includes photographs, drawings, maps, artifacts, replicas and displays, illustrating the evolution through the years to what we now know as the W & OD Trail, a Northern Virginia Park Authority property enjoyed by 2 million visitors each year.  If you have ever walked, jogged or biked on the W & OD or if you are a lover of trains, Mr. Vrana’s lecture and the exhibit will be of interest and we encourage you to attend.

HVI’s Membership Meetings are free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served.

Please call (703) 994-9054 for more information!

Exhibit Closing Soon: Vienna Awakens to War, 1861-1865

Vienna Awakens to War 1861-1865 is open for visitors at the Freeman House (originally Lydecker’s store during the war) from 12:00-4:00 PM, Wednesday through Sunday. The exhibit has been extended through the end of 2012 due to its popularity.

This exhibit takes a look at the War Between the States through artifacts loaned by members of the Vienna community, some of which have been passed down through many generations of family members and others lovingly collected by the current owners.  The exhibit, designed and mounted by Historic Vienna Inc. volunteers, includes reproductions of Union and Confederate uniforms and a dress of the period, bullets and ammunition, a genuine Colt revolver, buttons, currency, a Confederate war bond, original 1861 Harper’s Weekly pages on the Battle of Vienna and on the use of an observation balloon between Vienna and Falls Church, artifacts on camp life and domestic life such as children’s games and cooking utensils, a beautiful period doll, an officer’s writing desk, and many other photographs and memorabilia.  It is most fitting that this exhibit be shown at the Freeman House, as it was occupied by troops during the war.

As we continue to remember the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it is crucial for all of us to understand what happened in our area and in our nation during this time.

Please visit and enjoy this free exhibit before it closes! Color brochures have been provided by Visit Fairfax and The Fairfax County Sesquicentennial Committee and are available at our exhibit. This brochure highlights all of the major events that happened in our county during the war.

 

Open House At the Vienna Train Station

Time: 1:00-5:00 PM
Date: Saturday, December 15
Location: The Vienna Train Station (Dominion Road NE, Vienna, VA)

The Vienna Train Station will be open on Sat. Dec. 15 from 1 to 5 PM.  View a depiction of the Western and North Carolina RR as it existed in the 1950s.  Free admission; donations accepted. The station is located on Dominion Rd. NE behind the WO&D caboose.  The caboose will not be open during the month of December.

Please support our model railroaders as they represent an interesting part of Vienna’s history!

112 Images of Vienna on the Library of Congress’s Digital Collection

The Library of Congress offers print, pictorial and audio-visual collections and other digital services on their AMAZING website.  The link below will take you to the Library of Congress  digitized collection relating to Vienna Virginia.  We at Historic Vienna have been fortunate to use some of these rare images for our exhibits.

You can find the whole collection of images of Vienna on the Library of Congress’s website!

If you have old photographs of Vienna and want to share copies with Historic Vienna, please contact David Shelby at (703) 965-7003.

 

Vienna Woods Exhibit at the Freeman Store and Museum

“The History of Vienna Woods, The Early Years: 1951-1955”. This exhibit is the first phase of one of Historic Vienna’s newest research initiatives.

Did you know that in 1951 $14,750 -15,500 bought you a three bedroom one bathroom brick rambler on ¼ acre in Vienna?

Come learn about the Yeonas Company’s involvement in Vienna’s rapid post World War II population growth, when Vienna changed from a sleepy country village to a growing modern Washington suburb. Explore the different house models offered and the special features and options. Find out the origin of some of Vienna Woods’ street names.

This exhibit will be up until early September 2012 at the Freeman Store, 131 Church Street NE, Vienna 22180.   The store is open Wednesday through Sunday, 12 noon to 4 pm, closed Monday and Tuesday.  Vienna Woods Pool has provided a very nice display case for a mini version of this exhibit through the end of the summer season so please take the time and stop by and learn more about Vienna Woods and this successful development.

Contact Anne Stuntz with any questions at (703) 994-9054 or by email at stuntzag@aol.com.

Vienna Woods Community History Project

Historic Vienna, Inc. has a wonderful volunteer who has started researching the history of the Vienna Woods Community. Anyone have an original sales brochure tucked away in the back of a desk drawer? It can’t hurt to look…

If you are a long time Vienna Woods resident (or know someone who is), or if you have stories, photos, or memorabilia from Vienna Woods’ early days, please contact HVI President Anne Stuntz at (703) 938-1894 or by email at stuntzag@aol.com.

Freeman Store and Museum Added to the National Register of Historic Places!

The National Park Service has named the Freeman Store and Museum to the National Register of Historic Places.  After a multi-year application process involving Historic Vienna, Inc. and the Town of Vienna, together with HistoryTech, a consulting firm hired to do additional research and prepare the actual application documents, the structure was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register by  the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in fall of 2011.  In April, 2012, the plaque commemorating the Virginia designation was unveiled.  And we waited.  The process is extremely exacting and information is checked, re-checked and then checked again, with questions about the structure itself and the history of the building’s use.  Every detail has to be documented, every fact cross-checked, to ensure that the application is accurate and to maintain the integrity of the application process, as well as the significance of the designation.

The Freeman House was built in 1859 by Abram and Susan Lydecker as a store and residence, the traditional “living above the store” structure.  It was advantageously located on the town’s main commercial street – Church Street – as well as being adjacent to the railroad line.  In May 23, 1861, the Lydecker’s store was one of the polling stations at which Fairfax County’s citizens cast their ballots on whether to secede from the Union.  Vienna voters, voted 77 to 44 against secession, one of only three precincts to do so.  During the ensuing war, both Union and Confederate troops occupied the house, which served as a hospital and military headquarters.  Post-war, the store passed to the Lydecker’s daughter and son-in-law Anderson Freeman and subsequently to their son Leon.  In addition to operating the business, Leon Freeman founded the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, with a horse-drawn chemical pumper (which can be seen today at the new VVFD building on Center Street), became a Director of Vienna’s first bank, and served as Mayor and as a member of the House of Delegates.

In 1929, the store closed.  The structure was in disrepair when the Town of Vienna purchased it in 1969 and formed a committee of interested citizens to plan and advise on the restoration and future use of the building.  This committee became Historic Vienna, Inc. in 1976 and the restoration was celebrated as a National Bicentennial Project by the Town.  Today, the Town continues as the owner, while Historic Vienna, Inc. owns the interior furniture, collections and fixtures and operates the Freeman Store and Museum.  The first floor Freeman Store maintains the ambiance of a late 1800s general store, complete with pot-bellied stove and an ever-ready checker board.  The second floor has a parlor and dining room with period furnishings, together with an exhibit space where HVI’s volunteer Museum Committee has mounted exhibits using our own collections (“From Our Attic”), traveling shows from the Virginia Museum (“Jamestown”) and items on loan from other organizations (the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department) and individuals (“Vienna Remembers World War II” and the current “Vienna Awakens To War: 1861 – 1865”).   There are also mini-exhibits using the downstairs hallway and permanent collections of documents and descriptive materials on display.

Special thanks are due to both individual HVI Board members and to Town staff – each of whom insist that they were “only doing their job.”  At the least, they did those jobs in exemplary fashion and will leave a legacy of success:  The Freeman House is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources Landmark Register.  A ceremony to unveil the National Plaque is being planned for Spring of 2013.