The Marco Polo Building – a part of life in Vienna By Connie Stuntz
Because of the seemingly certain fate of Vienna’s Marco Polo building at 245 Maple Avenue West, this article I found in our collection of memories seems timely. It appeared in The Providence Journal, a popular weekly McLean newspaper edited by Richard Smith. His wife Louise Smith wrote “The Grapevine,” a neighborly society column enjoyed by much of Fairfax County.
In her December 7, 1954 column, she describes the interior of the Marco Polo in its first year when my husband Mayo and I hosted a holiday dance there:
The dance was held in the new Garden Room opened in Vienna during the past Fall by Mr. George Copp, and no more agreeable place could have been found. The building features a two-story, semi-circular bay window in the center of its façade. Behind the lower one on Saturday evening twinkled the lights of a Christmas tree. Coats were left below on ample racks, and one went to the second floor for dancing.
At one end of the ballroom was a great raised fireplace, in which roared at first, and finally glowed, a cheerful fire. The walls have enough variety in finish to lend interest and a certain coziness not usually found in such large rooms. There is red brick, pine paneling, painted plaster, and a large expanse of scenic wallpaper.
We were pleased that George Copp had been inspired to build such a gathering place in Vienna. The spacious second floor room was perfect for the Christmas Dance for several hundred special friends and relations whom we wanted to entertain before our family left Vienna in early 1955 for Japan for several years.
As I’m writing this now, I’m thinking of all sorts of events I’ve attended at the Marco Polo Restaurant on the first floor, particularly Ayr Hill Garden Club May luncheons. They always had good food and plenty of parking. Until now I had not realized how much the 62 years of this building’s history meant to me.
Passing of Historic Vienna Inc. Board Member Frank Lancaster – July 16, 2016
We at Historic Vienna will dearly miss our great friend Frank Lancaster and are grateful for his wonderful life. Frank was born in 1929 in Sheffield, Alabama. His father was a railroad employee, which meant the family moved all around the Southern United States.
Frank attended night school at George Washington University and American University. In 1947, Frank was recruited to the CIA where he worked as the librarian and later became involved in aerial photography Frank was a steady volunteer in the town of Vienna and in the surrounding community. In 1960, he was the first manager of the newly formed Pigtail-Ponytail Girls Softball League. He volunteered first at the storefront library near the Giant and then at Patrick Henry Library when it finally opened in 1971.
Frank’s kindness, patience and experience were shared freely as he served so faithfully on the Historic Vienna board of directors.
Washington Post Obituary follows:
LANCASTER ELBERT FRANKLIN LANCASTER, JR. “Frank” (Age 86) II Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” On the evening of July 16, 2016 due to natural causes, Dad went home to be with the Lord Jesus. Surrounded by loving family he passed peacefully from his home of 52 years in Vienna, VA. Frank was born the eldest of three sons to Elbert and Kathleen in Sheffield, AL on November 9, 1929. Born the son of a railroad man, Frank cherished the memories of moving around the south and eventually settled in Ashville, NC. After graduating high school, he moved to the Washington, DC area in 1946 where he met his wife, Lois of 53 years. He loved his career with the CIA where he loyally served for 38 years. After retirement he remained the best of friends with many co-workers. Giving freely of himself he volunteered in the community and his church. He served on the Historic Vienna Board and played the role of Santa Claus for many years at the Freeman Store. He was instrumental in introducing kid”s softball to Vienna, which was a reflection of his love for baseball. Dad enjoyed Bluegrass Music. Stories of trains, life”s hardships and victories, and love of God were lyrics he loved to dwell on. A faithful member of the Capital Baptist Church, he looked forward to his weekly bible study. Dad lived by example, impacting many lives. With God”s promise we are rejoicing in his departure, although he will be dearly missed. Dad was preceded in death by wife, Lois and daughter, Susan. He is survived by his children, Linda Wilborn (Thom), Kathy Robinson (Johnny), Vicki Bell (Tom) and Billy Lancaster (Melanie); grandchildren, Susan Wright, Franklin and Jim Nichols, Amy Bolin, Katy DeCarli, Vicki Moe, Johnny and Davey Robinson, Tommy, Matt, and Josh Bell, Cindy, Sara, and Billy Lancaster; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Roger B. Neighborgall – Historic Vienna Friend and supporter passes on
We at Historic Vienna will miss Roger very much. He was very supportive of our programs and an important inspiration to all. His devotion to helping others and improving our community were key and very successful missions throughout his life.
Roger’s obituary from Washington Post:
Roger B. Neighborgall, Sr. On his 93rd birthday, September 13, 2016, after a brief illness, Roger B. Neighborgall, Sr. of Falls Church VA died with his family by his side. A graduate of Duke University, Roger was a member of the greatest generation, a US Army Ranger who fought in Europe including the Normandy invasion and Battle of the Bulge. At the end of the war in Europe he applied his munitions expertise to help recover stolen Jewish treasure stored in German bank vaults. His military awards include the Silver and Bronze Stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. He was recalled to service during the Korean War and spent his civilian career as an executive in the defense industry. Roger’s war experience imparted a profound love of life and a can-do determination to give back to his family, community and country. A community activist and perennial volunteer, he was active in the Lions Club, the American Legion and various city government organizations. He spoke extensively about his experiences to community and school groups, and particularly enjoyed teaching middle schoolers about the War, life, and the qualities of leadership. He was founder and President of the N. VA Tennis League and President of the Friends of the W&OD Trail. He was active in veterans’ organizations and was a USO volunteer and a greeter of Honor Flights bringing his fellow vets to visit the WWII Monument. Roger is survived by his wife of 38 years, Linda; children, Roger Jr., Lisa Mathieu (Stephen), Christa Hyland and daughter-in-law, Rebecca Neighborgall; 8 beloved grandchildren and one glorious great-granddaughter.
Historic Vienna was saddened to hear that Oakton VA resident, Robert F. Dorr passed away on June 12, 2016. Bob starting writing in 1955, was an Air Force veteran (1957-60) and a retired American diplomat (1964-89). He has authored more than 70 books and thousands of magazine articles about aviation, the Air Force, and military history. His writings are superb and will be a lasting legacy of his contribution towards documenting the history of aviation.
Bob was a loyal supporter of Historic Vienna and we were fortunate to have him speak at the Vienna town Hall on several occasions. Bob donated many books to Historic Vienna which we have been selling at our store.