Marc Pekala - Arlington Abstracted

Learn some interesting facts about Arlington during Mark Pekala’s Arlington Art Truck activation “Arlington Abstracted.”Mark Pekala chose eight signs from Arlington businesses of both past and present. During the activation, you’ll be able to create your own abstractions, similar to the artist’s style of work, using 2″x2” pieces of the signs. One of these designs will be selected to become the new ground mural at the Pop-Up park at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard! Be sure to use #ArlingtonArtTruck #ArlingtonAbstracted on social media to be selected!

Read more on the history behind each business below and also be sure to check the Arlington Art Truck schedule to see when this activation is coming to a neighborhood near you!


Weenie Beenie – 2680 Shirlington Road, Nauck | 1960 – Present

Weenie Beenie hot dog stand

ArtsWork students, 2002

Did you know that the Weenie Beenie hot dog stand, located at the intersection of Shirlington Road and South Four Mile Run Drive, was originally owned by pool hustler William “Weenie Beenie” Staton, who died in 2006?

Bill Staton was a world renowned pool player and an inaugural member of the One Pocket Hall of   Fame. The startup money for the purchase of the first hot dog stand was the result of a gambling trip to Arkansas in 1960 where he won the $27,000 which in turn became the seed money for this Arlington institution. Originally one of several, the Arlington site is the only one remaining. The stand was notable enough to be the title of song by the Foo Fighters, fronted by Dave Grohl, who grew up in Northern Virginia.

Staton performed trick shots in several movies, including “The Color of Money,” and is also credited  with giving “Minnesota Fats” his name. When he appeared on the television show “I’ve Got a Secret”   his secret was that he could sink all balls on the table with one shot, considered quite a feat in the early 1960’s. Staton also started Jack & Jill Cue Clubs, family oriented pool establishments, one of which operated 24 hours a day in Arlington for 14 years until Bill retired to Myrtle Beach, SC in 1981.

Source: Center for Local History, Arlington Central Library website

Kann’s Department Store – 3402 Fairfax Drive, Virginia Square | 1951 – 1975

Kanns department store

Lionel Freedman, courtesy ©Lionel Freedman Archives via DC Public Library.

Kann’s Department Store began in Baltimore, MD, in 1862, Its first D.C. store opened in 1893, at 8th and Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., and for years it was the only department store on prestigious Pennsylvania Avenue. The store offered quality goods at low prices and was one of the first stores, along with Woodward and Lothrop Department stores, to offer a fixed-price as opposed to using the haggling method. Kann’s saw many years of success and expansion in downtown D.C., including opening a store on 13th Street. The Arlington store, located in Virginia Square, opened to the public on November 16,  1951, just weeks before The Hecht Company opened Parkington less than a mile away in Ballston. Kann’s did not discriminate, selling its merchandise to black and white customers, and was the first department store in the Washington, D.C. area to have black mannequins in the windows.

It was a surprise to its devoted clientele, when Kann’s closed in 1975. Metro construction was blamed for its closing, but many believe it was the lack of aggressive expansion to the suburbs and reliance on the decreasing number of downtown shopper during the 1970s that caused the drop in sales. George Mason University’s Arlington Campus is now where Kann’s was located on Fairfax Drive.

Source: John Stanton, Historical Research Associate at the Center for Local History, Arlington Central Library

Sears Roebuck and Company – 2800 Wilson Boulevard, Clarendon | 1942 – 1993

Pat Graham, Sears with Isaac Brock, Spring 1992, Infrared photograph on Silver Gelatin Lith Print, 16” x20”, Collection of Arlington County

Pat Graham, Sears with Isaac Brock, Spring 1992, Infrared photograph on Silver Gelatin Lith Print, 16” x20”, Collection of Arlington County 

Sears Roebuck and Company opened its doors to Clarendon in February, 1942. It was located in the building that is now the Arlington Education center at the corner of Edgewood and Wilson Boulevard. The Sears’ Garden Center stood across the street where the Whole Foods is today and the Sears surface parking lot is what is now The Market Commons that includes the Apple Store, Williams Sonoma and The Container Store. Many Arlingtonians worked at Sears and loved shopping there, particularly during the holidays. It closed on April 30, 1993.

The photograph of Sears shows singer songwriter Isaac Brock from the band Modest Mouse in 1992. Rock photographer Pat Graham was roommates with Isaac Brock who lived in a politically active group house on 8th Street, North, known as the Positive Force house. Isaac had moved to the area to be a part of the music, art and political scenes going on at that time. Pat said, “One day Isaac dressed up as an angel and then asked if I would take photographs of him in our neighborhood. To emphasize his experimental idea I shot the pictures with infrared film in some of our favorite spots. We both loved    the Sears (neon) sign so this was our first destination. I took this picture and others of Isaac in his foam angle wings and mittens. He was standing on some bags of Mulch and proceeded to jump as if he was flying.”

Source: Arlington Arts; Center for Local History, Arlington Central Library, 2018

Moore’s Barber Shop – 4807 Lee HIghway, Hall’s HIll/High View Park | 1960 – Present

Moores Barber Shop

photo credit: 

Moore’s Barber Shop was established by Mr. James Moore, Sr. in 1960, at 4807 Lee Highway across the street from the Hall’s Hill/High View Park neighborhood. Moore’s is now operated by James Moore Jr. from Accokeek, Maryland, who works there as a barber on his days off from his full-time job as an Arlington County firefighter. A calendar in the shop indicates when James is working so that the costumers know when they can schedule a haircut. If you miss him, there are two other barbers for your haircutting and social needs. People come not only to get a haircut but to enjoy the social interaction between neighbors. Moore says, “It’s all about establishing a relationship with your barber… we know so much about our customers… way beyond what kind of haircut they like.”

The Hall’s Hill/High View Park neighborhood was established when the Hall family sold the land to  their freed slaves. This created the community that is still thriving today. During segregation, Moore’s Barber Shop, the fire station and churches were gathering places for Hall’s Hill/High View Park residents because there weren’t community centers as we see today in Arlington, and people of color were not allowed in many of the public establishments in Arlington. Mr Moore Jr. remembers going to the fire station to watch movies as a child. Today, he is a firefighter working for that same fire station.

If you want to catch James Moore Sr. at the barber shop, drop by when you see his 1955 red and white Chevrolet Bel Air parked in front. Auto collectors of all ages know it is a tradition to drive your automobile of choice to Moore’s Barber Shop.

More information and stories: |

Source: Arlington Arts, 2018

Parkington – 4238 Wilson Boulevard (North Glebe Road and WIlson Boulevard);  Ballson Common Mall (1980s);  Ballston Quarter (2018)

Parkington shopping mall


Parkington, opened in 1951, was the first suburban shopping mall in Northern Virginia, and the first mall to be built around a multi-story garage. The name Parkington emphasized the plentiful parking at a   time when post WWII automobile usage was just beginning to take off. Built by the department store, The Hecht Company, the 4-tier garage was the largest in the United States at the time it was built. In 1986, Hecht’s (now Macy’s) was incorporated in the renovation that became the Ballston Common   Mall. Having just undergone a 21st Century transformation, the new Ballston Quarter Mall opened in  the fall of 2018.

Source: WalkArlington brochure, Arlington Arts, 2004; Center for Local History, Arlington Central Library, 2018

Bob Peck Chevrolet – 800 North Glebe Road (North Glebe Road and WIlson Boulevard), Ballston | 1963 – 2006

Chevrolet dealership

Library of Congress, James W. Rosenthal

The Bob Peck Chevrolet dealership at the comer of  North Glebe Road  and  Wilson Boulevard  was one of Arlington’s most recognizable structures. The transparent circular auto showroom with the diamond motif canopy spelling out the dealership’s name has long been the focal point at that busy intersection. Architect Tony Musolino, who designed the building for Bob Peck recalls that Mr. Peck “wanted an exceptional building.” He says, “I was trying to make the roof a billboard… and I was trying to make the roof look like it floats.”

Donald Peck, son of Bob Peck, recalls that construction began in 1963 and was completed the following spring. Interestingly, Mr. Musolino was paid a fee for the design but declined cash payment for supervising the construction. Instead, he says that he told Mr. Peck “All I want you to do for me is to give me two Corvettes in succession. It was a ‘63 and a ‘64. He didn’t give me ownership, he gave me demonstrators that were right out of the showroom. But I returned them in a year each time.”

The Peck dealership originally opened in Clarendon in 1939 at 2825 Wilson Boulevard. When the business outgrew that location Mr. Peck moved it to its most recent location, where he remained the proprietor until he was nearly 80 years old. His son ran the business until it closed in 2006.

The replicated diamond motif canopy on the new building at Glebe and Wilson was the result of a negotiation between Arlington County and The JBG Companies, the developer at the time. When incorporating the old canopy in an adaptive re-use fashion was deemed not feasible, the developer worked with its architect to create a feature for the new building that referenced the former sign, an aspect of the original building that had become a recognizable landmark. This design feature was the result of Arlington Cultural Affairs and Historic Preservation staff working with the developer to try and save the sign.

Source: Uncommon Places, Arlington Arts, 2006 and 2018

Henderson’s Ice House – 1317 19th Street, North, Rosslyn | 1927 – 1960s

Henderson's Ice House general store

Library of Congress, John Vachon (1914-1975)

The Ice House was a general store, restaurant and ice house established in Rosslyn in 1927. They had  a service of delivering ice for cold food storage used in ice boxes. After refrigerators were invented  and became a household item, they no longer had to deliver ice, so they changed their business to Henderson’s Moving, using the ice trucks to move furniture and the ice house as a storage facility.

By eminent domain, Arlington County acquired the Ice House to create a new road. As a result, the business moved to South Arlington in the 1960s and is still located at 2709 South Oakland Street. They lease the property to New District Brewing Company and have an office in the back of the building.

Source: Arlington Arts; Center for Local History, Arlington Central Library, 2018

Hot Shoppes – 2820 and 4707 Columbia Pike |  1960s – 1979

Hot Shoppes restaurant

Andrew Ratliff Collection

If the phrases “chicken box for two” or “pantry pack” sound familiar to you, then it is probably safe to assume that once upon a time, you were a customer at a Hot Shoppes restaurant.

A classic slice of Americana, the first Hot Shoppes was established in Washington, D.C. in 1927 by Willard Marriott, best known for founding the Marriott Corporation. By 1960, there were 70 Hot Shoppes restaurants in seven states and the District of Columbia. Arlington boasted a number of locations, including Crystal City, Shirlington and Columbia Pike.

The Columbia Pike location in particular became a venerable Arlington institution for 32 years, providing a loyal clientele with “Southern Home-style” cooking at affordable prices.

There were two located on Columbia Pike. One at 2820 and the other located at 4707 Columbia Pike in the Barcroft neighborhood. Hot Shoppes not only offered quality food, but also served as   a neighborhood gathering place where customers felt like they were treated as family and seniors could take advantage of special discount prices. As time went by, the rise of fast food restaurants put increasing pressure on cafeteria-style establishments such as Hot Shoppes. The Marriott Corporation began converting most locations into Roy Rogers restaurants in the mid-1970s and the Barcroft location was no exception, changing over around 1978. 4070 Columbia Pike also served as the future site of the second location of Bob & Edith’s Diner, and Sauca. The building was torn down in 2017 for a new mixed-use development.

Some Hot Shoppe trivia:

  • The first Hot Shoppe started as a curbside food stand selling A&W Root Beer and tamales in
  • In 1967, Hot Shoppes officially changed its name, becoming the Marriott
  • Jazz musician Duke Ellington and his band recorded seven versions of the Hot Shoppes theme song which were aired on radio as part of an advertising campaign in 1967–1968.
  • The last Hot Shoppes restaurant, located in a Marlow Heights shopping mall in Washington, C., closed on December 2, 1999.

Source: Center for Local History, Arlington Central Library website

About the Artist

Marc Pekala is a graphic designer and artist.  Early in his artistic career, he created abstract artwork from cutting up brightly colored letter pressed posters and by moving the shapes around, created new abstract work.   These original “Globe” brand posters are now part of Washington DC’s history, and many still recognize them as being associated with the Washington, DC Go-Go music scene.  The Globe Poster factory, located in Baltimore, closed years ago, but their equipment and original posters were acquired by the Maryland Institute of College of Art (MICA).  Recently, he was awarded a large scale mural project with the DC Public Library Foundation on a shipping container where the design was created from his method developed in the 1980’s of using the abstract-mixed-up cut up squares of Globe posters.