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The Many Faces of Herndon’s Downtown

Take a walk through the history of downtown Herndon.

The buildings in Herndon’s downtown area have undergone many changes in use over the years. There have been lots of stores—grocery stores, drugstores, general stores, feed stores, and more—and a few surprises, too!


Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern: 
The building that houses Jimmy’s and Roaches in the Attics Antiques began its life as the W.T. Wilkins drugstore. In the 1940s it was a pub. It then became Feldman’s general merchandise store, which sold furniture, clothing, and toys. It also for a time housed Western Auto and then an army surplus store. Roberts Carpets operated at this location until it moved to its current location, a former Safeway store, across from the fire station. There were several other occupants—including a dart bar known as Foot Anakin’s—before Jimmy’s opened in May 1997. The one-story extension on Elden Street that is now the dining area in Jimmy’s was at one time a Hershey’s ice cream store. The small building on Spring Street between Jimmy’s and Roberts Carpets, where Jimmy’s Catering is now located, originally was used by Reed’s Funeral Home (now Adams Green) to store coffins. Then, for many years, Hazel’s Restaurant operated at this site.

The Upholstery Shop: This building originally housed the Herndon Movie Theater. It also for a time was a local teen hangout known as The Hornet’s Nest.

So Addictive Lounge: The white brick building across Spring Street from Jimmy’s where the So Addictive Lounge is located dates to the early 50s. An earlier frame structure on this site housed the McGuire grocery store in the 1920s and 30s, and then Prince’s Feed Store. The existing building originally was home to Arthur’s Department Store. For a number of years Simply Country, which featured an array of furniture, gifts, and handcrafted items, was located there. It served as office space for a few years before the current tenant opened its doors.

Stohlman Subaru: This building is the one constant in this section of Elden Street, having always been a car dealership (Ashwell’s and Paul Brothers preceded the current occupant)—although the town’s ABC store shared the west end of the building for many years.

Ice House Café: Despite what the name implies, there was never an ice house in this building or even on this site. Constructed in the 1950s, this was originally a drug store. There were several apartments and, for a while, a doctors office on the second floor. For a brief period in the 1960s the building housed Herndon’s very own claim to shame—The Pink Pussycat, a topless bar!

754 Elden Street: Last but not least, many Herndon residents will remember the Citgo gas station, which for many years stood empty and rusting at the corner of Elden and Station Streets. The building that occupies the space now (originally the TPI Center) houses O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and several other shops.

We will continue our trip down memory lane, looking at the past lives of other buildings and sites in the downtown, in occasional future columns.

 

Remembering Herndon’s History is written by members of the Herndon Historical Society. Carol Bruce is the president. The Society operates a small museum that focuses on local history. It is housed in the Depot and is open every Sunday from noon until 3:00.

 The Historical Society is seeking volunteers to help keep the museum open each Sunday. If you have an interest in local history and would like to help, contact Carol Bruce at 703-437-7289 or carolbrcom@aol.com.

Gail Wright Lee January 22, 2012 at 03:29 PM
The space in the building at 733 Elden St. at the corner of Spring St. that currently houses So Addictive lounge was from 1973 to 1983 the home of the first martial arts academy west of Falls Church, Grandmaster H.K. Lee Academy of TaeKwonDo. Inside the lounge, evidence of its past can still be seen on the ceiling near the front door in the form of a huge eyebolt previously used to hang the heavy kicking bag. In 1983, Grandmaster Lee moved the Academy to the building at 688 Spring St. Located directly behind 733 Elden St. and next to the fire station, where it operated from 1983 to 2004. He purchased this building from Ann Feldman who had operated Herndon House furniture there for many years. Pictures of both buildings can be seen at: http://www.hkleetkd.com/about.htm. (I tried to upload the photos but it wasn't working)
Carol Bruce January 22, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Thanks, Gail! I hope other folks will add their recollections, too. I believe the academy was in the building directly behind the So Addictive Lounge. Think it is a real estate office now. I remember Master Lee would have his students in the homecoming parade each year.
Gail Wright Lee January 22, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Carol, the academy has actually been located at both addresses.1973-1983 at 733 Elden St. and 1983-2004 at 688 Spring St. Currently we are located at 465 Herndon Parkway. You have a good memory! For many years, we did march in most of the Homecoming parades. We also demonstrated at the very first Herndon Festival on the main stage in front if the Depot building and every successive Festival for many years in the 80's and 90's. Sometimes we also used to do impromptu free demonstrations on the Herndon Town Green there during the rest of the year.
Carol Bruce January 22, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Years ago when I was on the Town Council I attended one of your annual dinners. Believe it was held at a synagog in Reston. Very nice event!
Carol Bruce January 22, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Thank you for posting that link! I remember the furniture store. Mrs. Feldman also had a general store across the street, where Jimmy's is now.
Richard Wahl February 08, 2012 at 07:47 AM
I remember many of these buildings. The Town Hall, when it was a Post Office, the old 'Movie House', and going to see many a movie there, and walking to my Grandmother's house that was only a stone's throw away on Locust St. The Train Depot, taking the train to Rosslyn with my Mom. Living in Washington State now, those memories are still very fresh in my mind. The 'house' right next door to the Fire Station, when it was the Library.
Richard Wahl February 08, 2012 at 07:53 AM
What about the area, not far from downtown, an area my Dad, who was a Policeman for Fairfax County, referred to as 'The Pines'. And if my memory serves me correctly, it was a rather run down area, sort of a 'poor side of town' dwelling, that appeared to house many families. Does anyone today, happen to remember that? This was in the mid to late '40's.
Carol Bruce February 08, 2012 at 05:09 PM
The old house was still there when I first was in Herndon. Can't remember when it was taken down, but there is a Burger King on that site now.
Carol Bruce February 08, 2012 at 06:24 PM
At least I think the Burger King site is the site you are talking about. There was a very large frame house on that site that was in very bad shape. Think it had been sitting empty and neglected for years. However, there also is a strip mall type shopping center--The Pines Shopping Center, in fact-- which might be where this was. It's just up the street from where the Burger King is. That has been there as long as I have been familiar with Herndon, which was the late 70s. (I worked in Reston back then and we used to come to Herndon frequently to have lunch at the Tortilla Factory, which is in that center.)
Michael Rekas April 26, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Does anybody have any information or know of resources about 800 3rd Street? It is currently a mixed used property, and I'd be interested to know the history. From what I understand the house was build around 1906. Thank you! -Michael
Carol Bruce April 26, 2012 at 04:03 PM
800 Third Street was built in the early 1900s by Edwin Detwiler, one of Herndon's early doctors. He called his home the Summit. Dr. Ed, as he was known, and his brother Ben--a dentist--were both prominent citizens. They founded the Herndon Gas Company that provided the gas to light streetlights in the downtown and in the homes of some of the town's more affluent residents. One of the two remaining gas generating buildings in town is in a small park on Lynn Street, directly across from the Herndon Municipal Center. Unfortunately, Dr. Ed met an untimely end in 1916, when he was shot and killed by the deranged son of one of his patients. (There is a Remembering Herndon History column entitled "The Detwiler Brothers" that provides more information about these two men.) Many long-time Herndon residents still refer to 800 Third Street as the Herndon Medical Center, as a succession of physicians operated out of it for many years. The property was purchased in the early 90s -- if I recall correctly -- by current Town Council member and mayoral candidate Jasbinder Singh. He and his son removed all the partitions and the carpeting that had been added during the years and restored the beautiful woodwork and floors. Mr. Sing operates it as a professional office center.
Michael Rekas June 24, 2012 at 05:40 AM
That is so fascinating! Thank you kindly for the information, Carol. My business partner and I actually lease one of the suites in this building, and we wanted to learn more about the history of the space. Are there resources within the town I could dig deeper?
Carol Bruce June 24, 2012 at 02:37 PM
You might want to stop by the Depot (we're open on Sundays from noon - 3:00) and see if you can find more information. Be sure to check out the Berkeley Green photo collection. Can't remember if there are any old photos of the building or not, but worth a look.
Richard Wahl July 23, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Carol, I wonder if you could tell me, if the Stohlman Subaru building, was ever 'Horn Motors'? It just seems to me that there was, but I cannot be certain. I do remember Ashwells, but there is a portion of my memory that recalls Horn Motors. IF, it was called 'Horn Motors', it had to have been in the mid to late '40's. It could just be a figment of my imagination, mixing up two different towns, but I have this very convincing part of my memory, telling me that Horn Motors once resided there.
Carol Bruce July 24, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Richard, Horn Motors was (and still is) located across the street from the Subaru dealership. It's an auto supply place, though, not a dealership.
Richard Wahl August 02, 2012 at 09:53 PM
So, was the Horn Motors dealership, ever located in the Stohlman building, as a dealership, or was it always an auto supply business? I guess being so young, I didn't quite grasp the difference, but for some reason, it just had this fixation in my head, that Horn Motors, was a dealership and was located in the Stohlman building at one time. So then, Horn Motors was just an auto supply place, and never a dealership?
Carol Bruce August 02, 2012 at 09:58 PM
From what I have been told, Horn Motors has always been in the location it currently occupies. While it may have been a car service and repair business at one time, from what I have been told it was never a dealership. However, my same source tells me that the Stohlman building has been a succession of dealerships over the years. And, at one point in time the ABC store was co-located there, at the left end of the building.

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