Reston Historic Timeline:

Over 350 Years in a "New" Place


  • 1649 - England's King Charles II deeds vast Northern VA holdings — including what is now Reston — to seven of his supporters.1852Reginald Fairfax, descendant of original owners, sells land which includes Reston for $5.00 an acre.


  • 1886 - What will become Reston is auctioned off. Divided by W&O railroad (which in the late twentieth century will become a hiking & biking trail). Land to the south goes to William Dunn, that to the north to Dr. Carl Wiehle.


  • 1892 - Dr. Wiehle drafts plans for a Utopian new town.


  • 1897 - Wiehle is incorporated. (Revoked, 1990)


  • 1927 - A. Smith Bowman from Kentucky buys 4,000 acres in never-established town; renamed Sunset Hills Farm.


  • 1934 - With Prohibition's end, Bowman begins sale of Virginia Gentleman bourbon from the distillery on his property.


  • 1947 - Farm expanded by 3,000 acres, becomes largest in Northern VA.


  • 1961 - Robert E. Simon invests money and dreams to purchase all but the farm's main house and distillery to begin a New Town on 6,750 acres.


  • 1962 - Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passes Residential Planned Community (RPC) zoning to make Reston possible. Nationwide imitation will follow.


  • 1963 - Construction begins on Lake Anne dam in March and in Lake Anne Village Center in May.


  • 1964 - First industrial tenant comes to Isaac Newton Square in November; Reston's first residents come a month later.


  • 1965 - Lake Anne Village Center officially opens. Hunters Woods' first residents move in. Two Homeowners Associations (later blended into one) work to oversee land use and programs upon it.


  • 1966 - Reston holds dedication ceremony in May. Reston Players present "Greatest Game In Town".


  • 1967 - First issue of Reston Directory published. Gulf Reston buys developer interest from Simon in town of 1291 residents.


  • 1968 - Reston Commuter Bus System's instant success gets national attention as customized service.


  • 1969 - First Black Arts Festival. Common Ground opens as a coffee house, luncheon, meeting place at Lake Anne Center. 


  • 1970 - The 11,500 residents note founding of Reston Interfaith & The Common Ground Foundation, opening of Cedar Ridge, Reston's first low & moderate income housing.


  • 1971 - Now 16,000 strong, Restonians hail May opening of Fellowship House in Lake Anne, first housing for senior citizens.


  • 197 2 - Gulf Reston's paid-ahead taxes build ramps onto Dulles Access Road. (Toll Road will not be ready for 12 more years.) Common Ground Foundation begins intra-Reston bus service, forerunner of RIBS. Hunters Woods Village Center opens.


  • 1973 - International Center, including Sheraton Inn & Convention Center, dedicated. Some staff arrives in nearly-completed million-square-foot US Geological Survey headquarters. Reston gets first stoplight at Wiehle Ave & North Shore Dr.


  • 1974 - Tall Oaks Center dedicated.


  • 1976 - Reston gets post office building and police substation. Statistics: 28,000 residents; 265 businesses; 7,500 jobs; 372 acres maintained by RHOA.


  • 1977 - Openings: Terraset -- nation's first underground, solar heated, cooled school, and ACCESS emergency medical care facility. Internal travel easier with opening of 4-lane Wiehle Ave bridge and added two lanes on Reston Ave bridge.

  • 1978South Lakes High School opens. 600 acres now maintained by RHOA.


  • 1979 - Reston Community Center, funded by special tax district, opens after long citizen campaign. Mobil subsidiary buys town of 30,000 residents and 349 businesses from Gulf-Reston.


  • 1980 - Voters reject town status. Rent increases force closings on Lake Anne Plaza of two institutions: the Common Ground & Lake Anne Hall.


  • 1981 - In place: more than 13,000 homes, more than 500 firms with over 10,000 jobs. RHOA now maintains 750 acres.


  • 1982 - Reston Information Center opens north of Route 606; North Point Village begins. Reston Board of Commerce organizes.


  • 1983 - About 40,000 call Reston "home"; over 15,000 work in more than 700 businesses; RHOA maintains more than 854 acres for recreational use.


  • 1984 - Expansion means almost 22,000 jobs in over 1,000 businesses. Openings: South Lakes Shopping Center; the Dulles Toll Road, and dozens of office buildings.


  • 1985 - Twentieth Anniversary Celebration highlights achievements. Residents own more than half of property and become majority of RHOA board. New government sector off Reston Ave contains Reston Regional Library, County Supervisor's office, police department.


  • 1986 - Population exceeds 45,000. National attention given Dulles Corridor business expansion, much of it in Reston, where over 1,300 firms employ over 25,000. New cooperation between Reston and next door Herndon.


  • 1987 - The 50,000th resident arrives. Town Center area adds Reston Hospital, Human Services Center & North County Community Shelter. CIA and NASA among newest employers. RHOA becomes RA (Reston Association).


  • 1988 - About 28,000 work in the New Town. Reston Land Corp. starts Town Center. Opened for the elderly: Cameron Glen Nursing Home & third Fellowship House at Tall Oaks Center. Reston Child Care Consortium plans facility.


  • 1989 - Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence recognizes Reston's precedent-setting first 25 years, and Fairfax-Falls Church United Way & Fairfax Chamber of Commerce give first IMBY (In My Back Yard) Award to RCA, Reston Interfaith & Reston Land. First Town Center tenants arrive. Homeless shelter widely supported; moderate income housing under construction at government center. Bowman Distillery closes and buildings leveled.


  • 1990 - Town Center first phase hailed for innovative urban design in suburban setting. LINK, traffic management program, launched.


  • 1991 - Town Center attracts tenants and crowds despite area-wide recession. Reston Interfaith wins annual social services award from TV Channel 9.


  • 1992 - Changes: 392 new Reston firms; Town Center subsidized housing completed and first private housing begun; RCA becomes Reston Citizens Association. Milestones: New Town Publications -- 25 years and Reston Board of Commerce -- 10 years.


  • 1993 - Some 2038 firms employ 30,025, despite loss of NASA. North Point Village Center opens. Teen Center opens in County space. Reston Board of Commerce becomes Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.


  • 1994 - Spectrum Center approved after controversy. Hunters Woods Center goes bankrupt. County Board approves funds to refurbish Lake Anne Plaza. Enacted: many provisions of citizen-rewrite of RPC (Residential Planned Community) Ordinance.


  • 1995 - Plaza America & Spectrum Center open; Lake Anne's renovation begins. Employment grows to nearly 38,000; residents to over 56,000. Reston Land relinquishes final seat on RA Board.


  • 1996 - Final development nears -- Reston Land sells holdings: major new owner is Westerra (renamed Westbrook) Communities. Atlantic Realty buys Hunters Woods & Tall Oaks Centers, plans upgrades and restorations. Supervisors approve Sheraton expansion and redevelopment. Sallie Mae complex opens on Bowman distillery site.


  • 1997 - Town Center second stage development launched. Construction of huge Oracle & BDM buildings at Reston Pkwy & Sunset Hills under way. Redevelopment picks up; vacancies hard to find. Reston Historic Trust opens storefront museum at Lake Anne.


  • 1998 - Reston Pkwy & Sunset Hills Rd are major of several street widenings necessitated by booming commercial construction. Employment tops 45,000. Approved after much controversy, Reston Community Center's second site confirmed for Lake Anne.


  • 1999 - New commercial construction -- with many large buildings completed and occupied -- is fueled by arrivals of information age hi-tech firms. Employment explosion continues. Reston Community Center second site opens at Lake Anne. Cathy Hudgins elected new Supervisor.


  • 2000 - Reston is third US locale to be certified as a Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Backed by a County grant and spearheaded by the Reston Historic Trust, community revitalization program is launched. YMCA opens. Employment tops 55,000. Final single-family lot sold as population grows to over 60,000.


  • 2001 - September 11 disaster dominates year's events. Hi-tech business takes downturn. Erupting issue: introduction of 3-stage tent before a Lake Anne restaurant. On bright side: Multicultural & Martin Luther King festivals grow in significance. Contractors, educators, community rally to rebuild fire-destroyed Dogwood school months ahead of schedule. Reston student Alan Webb acclaimed national track champion. RA nature house approved.


  • 2002 - RA voters overwhelmingly endorse new Southgate Recreation Center; Wiehle Ave extension completed to Dranesville Rd; Fairfax County Park Authority upgrades Reston Dog Park; Hunters Woods Elementary School undergoes major renovations and additions. Droughts: environmentally and economically; little rainfall, downturn causes commercial vacancies. Growths: community support for Reston Interfaith breaks all records; Celebrating Special Children (produced by New Town Publications) earns acclaim and expanded grant monies; South Lakes Seahawks turn in great football year.


  • 2003 - Okayed: Rebuilt Southgate community center in RA referendum (to be funded by county); rehab of RA's 17-mile stream bed in mitigation agreement (to be funded by developers in trades for eliminations of water-sheds elsewhere.) Yesterday's Reston youth initiate weekend reunion. Fight over rail to Dulles accelerates. Lake Anne Elementary School addition began.


  • 2004 - In April, Founder's Day commemorates Reston's 40th & Robert E. Simon Jr.'s 90th birthdays; county & residents begin exploration of Lake Anne revitalization; ARCH organized to serve clusters. RCA spearheads exploration of city or town status. Real estate prices soar; Redskins coach Joe Gibbs is among buyers. Employment increases.


  • 2005 - Rehabilitation and redesign concerns dominated local issues. Included: review of possible town status led by rejuvenated RCA, completion of Island Walk townhouses, rehabs made possible by county & residents collaboration, exploration & endorsements of rail to Dulles, which would include one or more Reston stops & initial moves to revitalize Lake Anne Plaza area. Powerful Planning & Zoning committee became independent; hundreds bought housing in Town Center's new high rises.


  • 2006 - Area continues to be mecca for business growth despite concern ovver transportation woes; bright spot is planning to bring Metro rail through Reston to Dulles. Increased density proposed although housing market softens. County buys Cameron Apartments to insure affordable housing there. Lake Anne redevelopment debate accelerates. RCC's new boundaries triggers several board resignations; RA's Governing Documents changes approved by referendum. June's heavy rains lead to flash floods with much damage.


  • 2007 - Many initiatives falter as nation enters near-recession. Reston does better than many areas: there are many fewer empty business locations, fewer homes for sale and prices do not overly decline. Plans for improved transit and revitalized Lake Anne are widely discussed. Contentious debate over South Lakes HS boundaries leads to a court test.

  • 2009 - Reston Museum is renovated. 

  • 2010 - Reston's population at 58,404.

  • 2014 - Phase I of the Silver Line opens up 

  • 2017 - Lake Anne Plaza listed on the National Register of Historic Places

  • 2019 - Reston Historic Trust & Museum unveils new permanent exhibit of the Lakeside Pharmacy icons at Lake Anne Plaza 

Reston Historic Trust & Museum

1639 Washington Plaza

Reston, VA  20190



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