Reflecting on our Truro community’s innovative qualities, demonstrating why Truro is such a great place to live and raise our families, where did it all begin?
The original plans for the development were imaginative. Miller & Smith chose a stream valley with a 75-year-old forest of oak and tulip poplar, which had been bypassed by other developers. They worked closely with Fairfax County to build homes specifically designed to preserve the rolling terrain and mature trees, all arranged to provide scenic views of 36 acres of dedicated community parkland. Over a mile and a half of trails offered full access to enjoy the seasons, wildlife, and the tranquil sounds of Turkey Run Creek. As stated in the original Truro home’s brochure, “The pastoral panorama of the landscape has been preserved and the street names grew out of the ground itself.”
The mid-century modern architecture was adventuresome for Virginia, with expansive floor to ceiling windows and natural wood exteriors, providing unity with the natural setting that had been so conscientiously preserved. Truro was recognized regionally for its representation of this architectural standard and the “pod” houses remain, even today, a benchmark in design. The Truro community benefitted further with the reconfiguration of various mid-century modern homes, remaining competitive despite inflation, and the addition of colonial homes so appreciated in the Virginia tradition.
Integration with nature and quality design were the foundation for our wonderfully livable community. Truro’s easy walking distance to our elementary school ensures our beautiful parkland paths are used by everyone. From kids and their parents pushing younger siblings in strollers to our accomplished young runners and cyclists joyfully choosing to journey home along Turkey Run. Joggers and neighborly dog walkers known only by the dog’s name are daily regulars. While the weekends and holidays feature grandparents sharing fresh moments of discovery with young ones.
The clubhouse, swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball court, and five playgrounds are also integral to the family-friendly design. These well-maintained facilities became central to our active and vibrant community. Swim and dive meets, tennis tournaments, food trucks, bird walks, summer pool parties, Truro Talks, food and wine tasting, or whatever enterprising volunteers have gotten behind are all part of the evolution of our community. Something is always happening in Truro. Just go to our website or Facebook page!
So here’s to fall leaf raking, remodeling, neighborhood cookouts and holiday traditions, and all the active volunteers that are the very heart of our Truro community – a great place to live, a unique environment for raising kids, and an extraordinary place to build memories with friends and neighbors.
THE TRURO NAME
The developer of Truro named their community after the Truro Parish, of which it was once a part. Truro Parish was given its name by Robert “King” Carter, a colonial official, landholder, and business man from the 1700’s. He had discovered what he thought were rich deposits of copper in nearby Frying Pan Creek and named the area after a prosperous mining district in Cornwall, England. His discovery, however, turned out to be the characteristic green sandstone of Northern Virginia.
The Truro Parish was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1732 by carving out a portion of Hamilton Parish, whose boundaries coincided with those of Prince William County, established two years earlier. In the years before the American Revolution, Truro Parish was subdivided twice due to expansive growth, once in 1748 to establish Cameron Parish, and once again in 1764 to create Fairfax Parish.
There were a number of notable members of the Truro Parish to include Augustine Washington (father of George Washington), William Fairfax (served in the Virginia House of Burgesses and established the Belvoir Plantation), and George Mason, author of the Bill of Rights. In addition, Francis Scott Key, author of the “Star Spangled Banner,” was once a lay reader for the parish.
A NEIGHBORHOOD IS BORN
Land clearing and site preparations of Truro began in 1967 and on May 15, 1968, the Truro Homes Association Articles of Incorporation were signed, establishing the permanent status of the Truro neighborhood. By November 1969 there were already 95 families living in Truro with another 20 closing on properties.
THE STREETS OF TRURO
Many of the streets of Truro derive from American colonial and revolutionary era history. Perhaps the best known legend of the Truro area is that of Captain Charles Hawkins and Miss Anne Fitzhugh. William Fitzhugh, Anne’s father, was the master of the huge Ravensworth estate (whose one surviving manor house, Oak Hill, stands at 4716 Wakefield Chapel Road, hiding behind a hedge along a gravel road). While briefly visiting England with her father, Anne fell in love with Charles Hawkins, a young captain in the British Army. She returned home shortly thereafter.
When war broke out in the colonies, Captain Hawkins was among the first British troops sent to quell the rebellion. He was assigned to Virginia and soon found his way back to Anne and became a frequent visitor at the Fitzhughs. Upon hearing of his presence, a band of colonists came searching for him. The Fitzhughs hid Captain Hawkins and Anne in a secret loft above the dining room. Just as the colonists were leaving, a dog barked in the direction of the trap door and one soldier drew his sword and thrust it into the boards of the trap door. Hearing nothing, the troops left. Unfortunately, the sword had mortally wounded Anne.
Legend has it that bloodstains from her wound are still visible on the ceiling below where she died. This legend provided the names for CHARLES HAWKINS WAY and ANN FITZ HUGH DRIVE (which is misspelled). After this sad episode, the Fitzhughs left Oak Hill and it was passed on to a relative, Ann T. Bataille. Little is known of Ms. Bataille’s time at Oak Hill, but her name is highlighted in our neighborhood on BATTAILLES COURT (which is also misspelled).
A neighboring great mansion of colonial times was Ossian Hall. It was built in 1783 and destroyed by fire in 1959. Its memory is preserved in OSSIAN HALL LANE.
A granddaughter of the Fitzhughs, Mary, became the wife of Robert E. Lee – hence MARY LEE LANE. The Lees had a laundress they affectionately called Aunt Lilly. She spent time at Oak Hill retelling the stories of Anne Fitzhugh’s bloodstains, haunted hallways, and ghostly footsteps so often that they became folklore. For that reason, AUNT LILLY LANE and FOOTSTEP COURT now have their names.
Several other Truro streets derive their names from American colonial history:
- NECOSTIN WAY was named after the Native American tribe who inhabited the area. Early Jesuit explorers Latinized the name by adding an initial “A” – a spelling still reflected today in the name Anacostia.
- TURKEY CREEK COURT carries the name of the stream it overlooks which was originally named for the wild turkeys that once frequented its banks.
- BUFFALO TRACE came from a nickname once given to Little River Turnpike, which was originally called Buffalo Trace West.
- ORDINARY WAY comes from the term “Ordinaries” which referred to the many taverns and inns which dotted the landscape in colonial days.
- WAKEFIELD DRIVE and CHAPEL DRIVE get their names due to their close proximity to old Wakefield Chapel, one of the few historic buildings still present in Annandale. The chapel was built in 1897 by Rev. Elhanen W. Wakefield.
- BURBANK ROAD was named for Luther Burbank, a noted horticulturalist and “plant wizard” of the early 1900s. Burbank originally gained fame as the creator of new fruits, vegetables, and flowers. He introduced more than 800 new plant varieties during his lifetime. The Russet Burbank remains today the most prolific variety of potato grown in the US.
- STARR JORDAN DRIVE is named after David Starr Jordan, an admirer and friend of Luther Burbank. Jordan was a noted zoologist, ichthyologist, and pacifist in the early 1900s. He went on to become the first president and chancellor of Stanford University and then director of the World Peace Foundation.
- GIFFORD PINCHOT DRIVE honors America’s first professional forester. He became the first Chief Forester of the United States under President Theodore Roosevelt.
- KENWYN COURT didn’t always carry that name. Originally it was Herman Schmidt Court, named in honor of one of the landowners in the Truro Parish. Soon after the Truro homes were completed and occupied in the summer of 1969, led by homeowner Dick Abbott, the residents of Herman Schmidt Court petitioned Fairfax County. The proposed new name, Kenwyn Court, derives its name from the river which flows through the city of Truro in Cornwall, England. It was approved on November 10, 1969.
- RUCKER COURT has a less exciting history. The street is named after George H. Rucker Realty Co., which sold the developer the land it now occupies.
- YERKES PLACE and PAPPAS WAY were named for two men who contributed to the architectural character of Truro. David Yerkes, of Deiger and Yerkes, A.I.A, was the architect for many of the Truro models. Nick Pappas, his assistant, provided many of the ideas and architectural
details that were incorporated into Truro homes.
- HEPPLEWHITE COURT was named for George Hepplewhite, 18th century English cabinetmaker and furniture designer. Today his pieces are highly prized by collectors.
- CHIPPENDALE COURT comes from Thomas Chippendale, a contemporary of Hepplewhite and an even more famous cabinetmaker.
THE LEGAL STRUCTURE
The Truro Homes Association is a Virginia Non Stock Corporation. This means that each homeowner is a member of the corporation and has one vote only on matters that come before the community – homeowners cannot split their votes. As there are 377 homes in Truro, there are 377 voting memberships. Truro is also a 501(c)(4) organization under the federal tax laws, which makes its income nontaxable by the Federal Government and Virginia. In addition, and under Virginia law, Truro may petition for an exemption from sales and use taxes, which it has since the 2000’s.
The founding documents, called the covenants and declaration, identify and regulate activities that are not allowed in our community. These documents are covenants running with the land in perpetuity. Significantly, the restrictive covenants prohibit any changes to the exterior of our homes, unless approved in writing by Truro’s Architectural Control Committee, following the rules of the Architectural Guidelines. These documents, for example, also restrict raising farm animals and hanging laundry outside.
These documents also established a swim, dive and tennis club, called the Truro Community Center (TCC). Initially almost all 377 THA members were part of the TCC, with around 23 memberships sold to homes in the immediate community. The County’s special use permit for the pool limited the membership to 400, with parking being the limiting factor. Finally, members of the TCC may not vote on matters coming before the community. Only THA members are voting members.
By July of 1970, there were 140 families living in Truro. The Truro Trails newsletter was in full production, and there were regular articles detailing gardening tips, birthdays, neighborhood events, poems, landscape seminars, bridge clubs, and news about neighbors such as big trips, promotions, and anniversaries. The newsletter was full of homemade crossword puzzles, neighbor-to-neighbor shout outs of appreciation, and editorials. In addition, Swim, Dive, and Tennis were a prominent part of the Truro community from the very start (once the pool club house and tennis courts were finally opened)!
Truro swimming pool, clubhouse, and basketball court were opened over Memorial Day Weekend 1970. The tennis courts were delayed an additional year due to soil and surface erosion. The original pool had a three-meter diving board and an eight-foot high water slide by the shallow end.
In many ways, not a lot has changed in the last 50 years. Social committee activities, kids seeking babysitting opportunities, and local news were common in every newsletter. Even back in the early days of our community, stream management was also a concern. The stream reached its expected max runoff by 1973 and notes began popping up about tree maintenance, native flora, and erosion mitigation. Residents were also having issues with people speeding through the streets, although county cut-through measures would not be added for another 20 years. Truro was off to a strong start, with energetic new homeowners, surrounded by 35 acres of beautiful parkland, and more families moving in and expanding every month.
Almost every issue of the Truro Trails in the 1970s gave some homage to our distinctive architectural qualities, our tranquil parkland environment, and set the tone for the next 50 years in community engagement, appreciation of our incomparable environment, and the strong desire to create a special and unique neighborhood.
During the 1970’s the housing market changed. The price of the original Truro homes with their mid-century design went from the mid $40,000 to over $65,000, and then higher. Miller and Smith, to meet this market change, redesigned the homes, making them a little smaller and marketing them as Truro II homes. The builder also went to prefab construction in which all the walls and roofs were constructed in a warehouse and then put in place with a crane. In addition, the developer started to build traditional colonial homes, all to meet the changing market. As a result, the 377 homes represent three architectural designs.
The 1980s started a little bumpy for Truro, with the establishment of a neighborhood watch on October 16, 1980 in response to some burglaries, a rash of hooligan teenager antics, and other issues such as gas siphoning and vandalism. Such activities are not unusual as populations grow and become more compact, but the Watch was active from inception and successfully foiled various shady activities over the next decade. Then came the Gypsy Moth infestation. The spring of 1982 marked the beginning of a long road for Truro: Gypsy Moth infestation. The Fairfax County Gypsy Moth Office announced the arrival of this pest the previous fall and by December 1982 a quarantine was extended to Truro and several other neighborhoods in Northern Virginia. Part of the quarantine required all trees, logs, firewood, and other wood products to be certified as moth-free before being taken out of the infested area. By April of 1983 the infestation had spread to over 200 sites in Fairfax County. In response, Truro established the Gypsy Moth Task Force to help monitor the situation with the County.
Following the Gypsy Moth infestation, by August of 1983, Truro had also become the home to a growing infestation of Japanese Beetles. The land had previously been treated in 1944 as a “permanent” solution to the Japanese beetle problem, but 40 years later, they began appearing again. Even with the Gypsy Moth saga and the continued rash of petty crimes in the neighborhood, Truro thrived as always. Truro celebrated its Annual Shrimp Feast in August followed by transforming the clubhouse into a German beer garden for Oktoberfest in September.
There was also a continuous thread of debate on community street lighting that would continue for another decade and a half before resolution. By the start of 1988, a decision had FINALLY been made to add street lights to the community, but the debate amongst the residents of Truro demonstrated the fierce desire to defend that which was unique and singular about our neighborhood – the passion to preserve the natural state of our environment as much as possible. To resolve the matter, the installation of streets lights was put to a vote. Each homeowner on a street by street basis voted on whether or not they wanted street lights. Majority ruled! Ann Fitz Hugh, for example, voted “yes,” while Mary Lee Lane voted “no.” As a result, not all the streets are illuminated in the evening.
The summer of 1983 witnessed the Truro Swordfish Team being elevated to the NVSL’s Division III due to our strong performance in the previous few years. And by the following year we moved up to Division II! In 1982, Truro resident Vivian Watts won the election to become a member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing our very own 39th District! The 1982 November issue of the Washingtonian, our very own Vivian Watts was featured in an article titled “Future Leaders.” The 1980s closed out with the same energy and individuality as the closing of the 1970s, with the community flourishing and as one author of the editorial section of the Trails called Reflections noted in her article about bathrobes, “…The bathrobe keeps us gentle. It’s possible to sulk in a bathrobe but not to rage… Bathrobe wearers of the nation, stand tall. Open the door freely and proudly, even to your in-laws, and let them see what you’re wearing. The frontier is closed. It is time now for philosophy, for contemplation, for bathrobes.”
Major changes also happened to the pool. The three-meter board was dismantled, as the pool was too shallow for the high dive under the new County safety regulations. The water slide was also removed at the insistence of our insurance carrier, as it was considered a child safety hazzard.
In 1990 there was a move by Fairfax County Public Schools to shift Wakefield Forest Elementary School away from the Woodson High School pyramid and send students to Poe Middle School and Annandale High School. The residents of Truro banded together, the measure was soundly defeated, and WFES remained in the Woodson pyramid.
Caller ID really started to become popular in the 90s with the major telephone companies allowing customers to screen calls under the basis of “privacy.” Some callers complained that they wanted privacy, too, objecting to their number being displayed. This began the practice of callers hiding their numbers. Then came another facet in this war for privacy – “Anonymous Call Rejection.” If you didn’t want to take calls from blocked numbers, the system would automatically tell them so. If they wanted to get through, they had to unblock their number. Take that telemarketers!
May of ’95 opened with the first major proposal for street cut-through measures including stop signs at a number of intersections as well as some proposed no-left/right turn signs. Even 20 years ago this was an issue, one we continue to battle today.
After almost a decade of service, in September of 1996, Fairfax County discontinued the Metrobus 26G/H routes in Truro due to budget issues. Truro would never see a Metrobus stop within its limits again. During this time Truro experienced significant, financial concerns. In the early 1990’s the tennis courts needed to be resurfaced and French drains installed to relieve the underground hydrostatic pressure. Miller and Smith, in their infinite wisdom, built the tennis courts over a series of springs. (Springfield got it names from these limestone springs.) When all was over and done, the Truro bank account was almost empty. At that point a seven-year program to “Get Truro Well” was implemented to build up reserve funds for future expenditures. And, software was acquired to establish the amount of reserve funds needed for the next 20 years of expenses. At the turn of the Century, adequate reserve funds became mandatory under Virginia law.
At the beginning of the new millennium, the talk was all about establishing Truro’s very own website! Surveys were sent to find out what people wanted. It was all very exciting and new. After 30 years of newsletter cover art being created by fellow residents, the new era also called for new innovations, like ClipArt! Interactive calendars, chat rooms, and new ways of engaging within the community created an obvious excitement for many residents. With these new avenues, over the course of the 2000s, Truro, like many communities coming online, also struggled with preserving the privacy of its residents while providing useful information to residents and those interested in our distinctive community. The community also paid for a full ADA compliant study of all the facilities and parkland in order that future investments and improvements would be ADA compliant. An obvious addition is the ADA ramp to the pool from the lower parking lot.
During VDOT improvements made to the corner of Little River Turnpike and Guinea Road, a pre-Civil War era cemetery and 33 remains were discovered and carefully liberated. A headstone dated 1861 was found and after extensive efforts by the county, descendants of tenants from that time chose a new burial site – Pleasant Valley Cemetery, across from the Annandale NOVA Campus. During this time all the playground equipment from the 1970’s was replaced with new, state of the art equipment at a cost of around $100,000. We also started the triennial replacement of the playground mulch with a softer, spongy mulch.
In 2006 a major change was made to the club house. A $250,000 addition was put on with ADA compliant restrooms, new pool storage, and upstairs storage and records room. This addition allowed for the first time full use of the Great Hall without the clutter of the stored chairs and tables. Two years later, after approval of a special assessment by the community, air conditioning was installed at the club house at a cost of $22,000. For the first time the facility was now climate controlled 365 days a year. The result was a dramatic increase in use and rentals during the summer. And at a cost of $7,000 French drains were installed on the inside the club house along the footings, draining the water into a sump. For the first time the basement was dry!
Cut through commuter traffic remained an issue. After two years of study by the County and several public meetings at the club house, cut through measure were adopted. Stop signs were installed at Elizabeth and Ann Fitz Hugh, Old Hickory and Elizabeth, Iva and Elizabeth, Chapel and Elizabeth and Wakefield and Elizabeth. In addition two speed bumps were installed on Wakefield, plus a lane narrowing by the Turkey Run stream bridge.
The cut through traffic onto Old Hickory and the congestion by the school at Iva and Elizabeth remained unresolved. The community was, and still is, actively pursuing major traffic changes, such as a no right-hand turn off of Guinea Road to Elizabeth during the morning rush hours and a crossing guard at Iva Lane during school hours. During this timeframe Truro has its first judicial challenge to the enforcement of its architectural guidelines and restrictive covenants. After two years of unsuccessful negotiations with the homeowner, the matter landed in the Fairfax County Circuit Court. After a one day hearing before an arbitrator, the Court sustained THA’s enforcement decisions and upheld the provisions of the restrictive covenants. To assist in preserving the history of the community all of the paper Truro Trails going back to 1968 were scanned into PDF files and posted on the Truro web page. For folks that are true historians of the community these files are a treasure trove of facts and information. The club house kitchen was remodeled to add modern appliances to make the facility user friendly for the many activities. With an improved club house, social activities increased in earnest: Wine and beer tasting, summer parties, and community activities.
The swim, dive and tennis programs continued to flourish. These summer activities involved over a 150 children and platoons of adults supporting the programs. The dive team went undefeated in Division I during this decade.
2003 brought Hurricane Isabel, and Truro was not untouched by her fury. In addition to some homes being damaged, there was about $10k of damage to our beloved parklands.
Finally, the community established close ties with WFES, including sponsoring every year the 6th grade graduation swim and party event at the pool.
As the current decade dawned, Truro jumped into the social media game and started our very own Facebook page just in time to announce that the Truro Dive Team had won their seventh consecutive NVSL Division 1 Team Championships (13 overall since 1996). Truro homeowners also approved launching the pool snack bar. Unfortunately, this effort collapsed in 2018 due to lack of adult volunteers.
At this time several parkland issues arose. The first was the ever expanding deer population. Growing concern with their link to the mounting tick problem, as well as the damage their swelling population was posing to the parkland. Some neighborhoods, including Truro, considered permitting deer hunting within their boundaries. An effort was then made to amend the covenants to prohibit deer hunting on private property and the parkland. That initiative failed.
The second parkland issue was the serious erosion of Turkey Run Creek, with more trees falling victim to the disintegrating banks. Even though hundreds of hours were devoted to preserving the parkland, the storms continued to topple the large trees year after year, requiring the community to be ever vigilant of dangerous trees.
In 2017, in an effort to stop parkland tree lose, stream erosion and silt run off into Lake Accotink, an eight-year effort to improve Turkey Run reached fruition and the County undertook a $3 million dollar stream restoration project. This project was completed in 2018, and was followed by a total replacement of all the asphalt paths in parkland at a cost of $200,000.
Truro established a new social event, Truro Talks. These talks range from guest speakers such as academics and local representatives to the remarkable members of Truro such as a Grammy-nominated violinist. The Truro Talks continued with vigor during these years. Town hall meetings with elected officials, gaming nights, beer tasting, potluck dinner and chilli cook offs.
The community also improved its pool operations. Having been cited for discharge of chlorine into Turkey Run, a violation of the County clean water regulations, a new, state of the art filtering system was installed at a cost of $80,000.
During this time Friday and Saturday night food trucks were added to the evening pool ambience. These events brought all members of the community together for conversation, food and fun. A great, new Truro tradition.
The community remained fiscally sound during these years. The use of the reserve fund planning starting in the 1990’s has served Truro well in planning for many out-year expenses and capital improvements. On the weekend of June 2018, Truro celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Friday night started the event at the pool with a rook and roll band, two food trucks, and 400 happy friends and neighbors. The excitement could be heard for blocks, and the party lasted into the night, with many families enjoying an evening swim.
Saturday was a stream restoration tour; pool lunch of hot dogs and stuff; a dive exhibition; and pool games. That evening a dinner for 180 was held on the Great Hall of the Annandale Campus of the Northern Virginia Community College. Music was provided by a high school jazz ensemble.
The celebration closed with a Sunday homes tour of the various architectural models of Truro, ending with a reception at the Club House where Truro memorabilia were displayed.
More to follow as community moves through the 2010’s and into the 2020’s!