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Neighborhood Spotlight: Tauxemont — a community ahead of its time

Neighborhood Spotlight is a recurring column covering both the City of Alexandria and Alexandria in Fairfax County. This monthly column is sponsored and written by the Seward Group of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

Recycled materials, accessible structures that blend into natural surroundings, affordable but with “high artistic values” — these were the standards set by a group of neighbors and friends who met in the early 1940s in the Arlington community of Buckingham.

Government workers by day and innovative developers by night, the Tauxemont neighborhood was a result of this New Deal-inspired creative thinking, and named in honor of the Native Americans that lived in the area in the 17th century.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it is considered to be one of the first suburban developments in Northern Virginia. Among the 20 families who “founded” Tauxemont were Robert Davenport, who later developed Hollin Hills to international acclaim and the architect Alexander Knowlton who also assisted with the planning and served as construction manager. The group formed a cooperative and acquired the land in 1941.

Most residential developments at that time featured regular rows of houses lined up along the road with very little landscaping. Tauxemont was composed of simple and affordable houses built in harmony with their natural setting, sited to provide privacy yet convenient to the community’s tennis courts, playground, community house, cooperative preschool and Wellemeyer Field. No curbs, gutters or street lights interfered with these wooded retreats and residents are still quite fond of having a community well.

The developers were interested in finding a peace time use for leftover World War II material and utilized these supplies in the construction of many of the homes. The simple design was the result of the “modern movement” using basic materials, large windows and open space.

Cost savings was also a result of a one-story design with three bedrooms, one bath, a kitchen and a combination living/dining room. They measured about 1200 square feet, but the openness and light made them seem larger. A few changes were made by flipping the floor plan, the choice of exterior materials, types of windows and location of the fireplace.

The original 100 houses were built in three phases and completed by the end of the decade. Although the community is considered historical, homeowners are permitted to tear down the original homes and rebuild as the county zoning laws allow. Thus some of the 1940s era homes have been replaced by much larger multi-level structures.

Prized by its long-time residents, including our Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell, many have lived in Tauxemont for generations. His grandparents, Sam and Flossie Surovell, were among the first 20 founding families and Scott’s children are fourth generation Tauxemonters!

And what does he like about living in this special neighborhood? He listed many attributes such as the large, secluded wooded lots and the innovative ways in which the houses were sited, the low profiles which blend into the landscaping and feature few steps, the year-round celebrations and suppers organized by the residents and the many amenities such as the tennis courts and playing fields.

Did you know a very unique feature of the Tauxemont neighborhood is that they get their water from their own private neighborhood well? This is a huge source of pride for the community. (Water System — Tauxemont)

The neighborhood of Tauxemont remains true to its roots: love of community and love of nature. It is truly a jewel in the Fort Hunt area.

Please Note: Much of the information contained in this article was found in the National Registry Archive.

Neighborhood website:  Tauxemont

About Seward Group: We are award-winning real estate agents with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. Lyssa Seward, Melody Abella, Anita Edwards, Laura Catron, Gina Wimpey and Elaine McCall make up our team. We offer our clients Full-Spectrum Concierge Real Estate Service at all price points, assisting with every step of the process from beginning to end. We are licensed in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. Seward Group’s main office is in Old Town Alexandria.

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