Colonial Village Shopping Center


1711–1737 Wilson Boulevard

RPC #:
16025002 - View Map

Current Owner(s):
Colonial Village Shopping Center, LC
c/o Wilma Roumel
5335 MacArthur Boulevard
Washington, DC 20016

Building Date: 

Current Zoning: 

Existing Protections:

Current Development Pressure: 

Historic Designations:
Owner objected to National Register designation and application withdrawn, 2003

Photo Gallery

Significance Highlights:

  1. Early-20th century shopping center designed as part of the Colonial Village garden apartment complex and convenient to both Colonial Village residents and travelers along Wilson Boulevard;
  2. Epitomizes FHA design guidelines for providing a self sufficient community; and
  3. Remaining product of vanishing record of Federal New Deal Program architecture.

Significance Statement:

The Colonial Village Shopping Center was constructed in 1936 for the residents of Colonial Village and the surrounding neighborhood of Clarendon.  The commercial building was an integral part of a major real estate venture known as Colonial Village, which was undertaken by nationally renowned developer, Gustave Ring.  Designed in four phases, Colonial Village became a prototype for large garden-apartment complexes nationwide.  The project was acclaimed for its innovative financing, design, landscaping, and modern amenities, which included the shopping center.  Harvey H. Warwick, Sr., a prominent local architect, was responsible for designing the residential buildings constructed during the first three phases of development between 1935 and 1937.  Warwick also served as architect for the Colonial Village Shopping Center, which reflects the architectural style, design, materials, and siting of its residential neighbors.  Benefiting from its location along Wilson Boulevard, one of the most highly traveled east-west routes in Arlington County, the shopping center provided a balanced mix of everyday services and ample off-street parking that were sufficient inducements to secure a highly profitable trade.

With the accelerated growth of the Clarendon commercial center to the immediate northwest and the increased use of the automobile, the concept of a commercial village center was not just an amenity for the residents of Colonial Village, but was a business venture in its own right. The Colonial Village Shopping Center was placed prominently on the northwest corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Quinn Street to take advantage of both the peak traffic flow and shopping periods.  Wilson Boulevard, the southern boundary of Colonial Village, is one of the oldest thoroughfares in Arlington County. Following the example set by the Park and Shop on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., the design of the Colonial Village Shopping Center targeted the homeward-bound automobile traffic along Wilson Boulevard.  The Shopping Center’s design reflected its orientation, with the façade angled to attract passing motorists.  It provided convenient entry and egress, off-street parking and one-stop shopping that made it a destination point for residents and those traveling through the community.

The Colonial Village Shopping Center is remarkably intact and contributes to the historical and architectural significance of the larger Colonial Village.  The property has continued its association with the residents of Colonial Village and feels like a village center park and shop as originally envisioned.  The Colonial Village Shopping Center contributes to this existing Colonial Village Historic District, augmenting the areas of significance as an economically viable amenity specifically intended to be part of the real estate project undertaken by Gustave Ring. 

Summary Description:

Consisting of just over an acre of land, the Colonial Village Shopping Center originally contained eight separate stores, each with a single-leaf entry flanking by large plate glass show windows.  Interior dividing walls have been inserted between two of the spaces and the building now contains ten stores.  The configuration of entry and show windows has remained the same on the façade of the building, despite the interior alterations.

The one-story building presents a rectangular form enlarged to the rear by service areas.  Constructed of brick laid in six-course American bond, the main block of the building has a cross gable roof created by two front-gabled bays on the sides of the structure. Flat-roofed bays, housing one commercial storefront, are located at either end of the structure.  Theses end bays, together with the front-gabled bays, project beyond the wall plane of the main block.  The changes in roof form and wall planes were intended to read as several distinct storefronts.  The service areas at the rear of the structure have flat roofs.  The flat roofs of the end bays and the service areas are clad in a composite material with metal coping along the parapet walls, which is stepped along the side elevations.  The depth of the service areas varies, providing additional space to the retail space at the center of the building.  A short interior-end brick chimney stack projects from the northwest corner of the building.  The cornices of the west and side elevations are adorned with a corbelled brick cornice that is identical to the ornamentation at the cornice line of the neighboring residential buildings of Colonial Village.

The façade of the main block is recessed under the roof, which shelters four of the original storefront entries within a seven-bay-wide portico.  The overhang of the roof is supported by square Tuscan posts finished by a Colonial Revival-style entablature with plain frieze and boxed ogee cornice.  A turned balustrade with square newels topped by ball-shaped finials has been added to the roof over the portico.  Historic photographs indicate this roof balustrade was not original, but replaced a Chinese Chippendale-like balustrade with square posts, balls, and cross bracing that topped the flat-roof bays at the ends of the structure.  The front-gabled bays are pierced by round window openings that originally had multi-light fixed sash.  The openings, framed in rowlock bricks, have been enclosed with wood and the window sash has been removed.  As originally constructed, each storefront consisted of a large single-leaf entry with Colonial Revival-style surround and flanking plate glass show windows.  The transoms were filled with panels framed with ogee molding.  The center of the panels was adorned by a large triangular-shaped molding with an ogee profile.  A number of the molded transoms are extant, although flush wood transoms have replaced some.

Last Modified: April 14, 2014
2100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA 22201 Tel: 703-228-3000 TTY: 703-228-4611