Potential Widening of Route 1 Threatens Woodlawn National Historic Landmark

Statement by Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is currently considering two alignment options for widening Route 1 in Northern Virginia, adjacent to Fort Belvoir. Both of these alternatives would negatively impact Woodlawn, a historic site owned and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The following is a statement by Stephanie K. Meeks, president of the National Trust:

“The National Trust for Historic Preservation appreciates Fairfax County’s need to relieve future traffic congestion and to improve transportation access to Fort Belvoir and the surrounding area. However, the two road widening options under consideration by the Federal Highway Administration would drastically impact Woodlawn, a nationally significant historic site.  Our priority is to protect and minimize harm to America’s historic treasures such as Woodlawn.  

“No decision on either road widening option has been made by the FHWA.  However, the agency does have a legal mandate to minimize harm to historic properties, and the southwest bypass alternative would cause less harm to the historic setting of Woodlawn, by moving Route 1 further away from the National Historic Landmark and other historic resources such as Woodlawn Baptist Cemetery and Grand View. This would help to protect these resources for generations to come.

“In addition to managing the historic resources on the site, the National Trust leases land at Woodlawn to a for-profit stable facility. We recognize that many Northern Virginians care deeply for Woodlawn Stables and consider it an anchor for the community. If the FHWA’s road project requires the stables to move its operations, the Uniform Relocation Act would provide funds for moving costs and related expenses to reestablish the facility at another site.

“Let me be clear, the National Trust adamantly opposes widening Route 1 through Woodlawn; however, we realize the road expansion will happen and we are doing what we can to be a good neighbor, to support the community, and to work with the county, state, and federal agencies involved to minimize harm to the nationally significant historic site that is under our stewardship and care.”

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About Woodlawn

Built in 1805, Woodlawn Plantation overlooks the Potomac River in Alexandria, Va. The grand house was a gift from George Washington to his nephew, Major Lawrence Lewis, and his wife Eleanor "Nelly" Custis. Before his death in 1799, Washington provided 2,000 acres of the Mount Vernon estate to the young couple and selected the site upon which the house was built. Woodlawn was the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s first Historic Site.

 

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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