On July 9, 2011, the County Board unanimously adopted the first phase of the Historic Resources Inventory list of ranked historic garden apartments, shopping centers, and commercial buildings.  More information on this action is available in the County's official press release.

With the County Board’s approval of the Historic Preservation Master Plan in December 2006, the Historic Preservation Program staff has been leading a groundbreaking planning initiative to classify historic resources Countywide according to their historical and architectural significance. Arlington is proud to be the first locality in the Commonwealth of Virginia to undertake a comprehensive ranking of its historic buildings. Known as the Arlington County Historic Resources Inventory, or HRI, the first phase of the project includes these three building types built prior to 1955: garden apartment style buildings and complexes; shopping centers; and individual commercial buildings. A total of 394 historic properties was surveyed, analyzed, and ranked into six different categories: Essential, Important, Notable, Minor, Altered/Not Historic, and Demolished.

There are 23 properties listed in the Essential category, which features only those properties with the greatest historical and/or visual prominence in our community. Watch a short video on the Historic Resources Inventory program.  The Essential buildings give Arlington a genuine sense of place and illustrate how our built environment evolved during the early- to mid-20th century. In addition, the Essential buildings have the most remaining architectural fabric, the least extensive physical alterations, and distinguishing architectural and/or historical significance. 

The Important Category, which is the second-highest ranking in the HRI, includes 134 historic properties. The Important properties help communicate and reinforce the architectural and historical character of Arlington. In addition to their individual merit, many of the Important properties shape and impact the way we visualize Arlington landmarks and streetscapes. Nearly half of the Important properties are historic garden apartment buildings and/or complexes, which have continuously served the housing needs of Arlingtonians for decades while maintaining their high quality building materials, architectural design, and urban planning principles. The Important commercial buildings likewise help define Arlington history and its 20th century development. They include many of the earliest commercial buildings in Clarendon and along Columbia Pike, and some of the first shopping centers built in Arlington prior to 1954. Within the list, 52 properties are marked with an asterisk, denoting that they are among the highest ranked of the Important buildings.

The third and fourth tier rankings in the HRI are the Notable and Minor categories. The 81 properties ranked as Notable still retain historic elements related to Arlington's history and are similar to other better-preserved examples, but do not have as much surviving historic context or integrity of materials than those in the higher-ranked categories. The 22 properties in the Minor category contribute to Arlington's historic architecture, but have undergone substantial exterior alterations over time and/or are not a distinctive example of their particular building type. An additional 35 properties have undergone such major alterations that they are no longer considered to be historic resources.

A total of 99 historic properties were identified during the HRI survey as having been demolished within the past decade alone, emphasizing the urgency of the HRI.

Additional information about the HRI project timeline and the proposed HRI preservation tools and strategies will be available here, so please check back often.


HRI Phase 1 List

Another version of the Phase 1 HRI list that includes all of the Real Property Code (RPC) numbers for the affected properties is available in the Zoning Office and as a PDF here. However, please be advised that this extended version of the list is several hundred pages long and is arranged by ranking category.   HRI RPC Numbers

Help us learn more about Arlington's Architectural Story!

Do you have a story to share about any of the buildings featured on the Phase 1 Historic Resources Inventory list? Did you live in one of the garden apartments when they were brand new? Did you own or frequent a business included on the list? Were you involved in the planning, design, or construction of any of the buildings on the list? If so, we'd love to hear more about your experiences. Please contact the Historic Preservation Program staff or visit the Tell Arlington's Story website .

Revised Project Schedule

DateMeeting / Purpose
July 9, 2011County Board adopted the Phase 1 HRI List of ranked historic garden apartments, shopping centers, and commercial buildings.
September 17, 2011Request to Advertise (RTA) for the County Board to consider the adoption of the Phase 1 HRI Policies.
October 15, 2011Phase 1 HRI Policies to be presented to the County Board.

HRI Community Meeting

A public meeting was held on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at the Navy League Building at 2300 Wilson Boulevard. Mary Means, of Mary Means and Associates, who prepared Arlington's Historic Preservation Master Plan, introduced the HRI in context of the Master Plan and Arlington history.

Last Modified: April 14, 2014
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