Why Is It Named Clarendon? And, What Does It Mean?

One of our most popular posts ever was this one about the origin of Arlington’s name. How about we dig a little deeper into a specific neighborhood in Arlington?

As you can see below, Clarendon started as a development off of the Georgetown to Falls Church road (now Wilson Blvd.) and the Washington, Arlington, Falls Church Railway. Look at the map below and click on it for greater details.

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1900 Howell & Taylor map of Arlington showing early Clarendon
1900 Howell & Taylor map of Arlington showing early Clarendon

The neighborhood dates back to 1900 when it was first planned out at the top of a hall on what is now Wilson Boulevard (i.e., where young professional 20-somethings go out every Thursday night). The village of Clarendon was named and dedicated on March 31st, 1900.

We found some great history on the Clarendon Alliance’s website, where we learned that a large chunk of Clarendon was formerly owned by George Mason and his son John up through 1830. According to their site, the name might come from Clarendon Avenue in Boston, the hometown of the man who owned the land at the time, Robert Treat Paine.

Alternatively, most other source point to the name coming from Edward Hyde, the 1st Earl of Clarendon in England. Currently, the 8th Earl of Clarendon and most recent, is George Edward Laurence Villers (b. 1976). There’s also a Clarendon Palace in Wiltshire, England, the ruins of a Middle Ages castle. And, here’s what you’ve been waiting for … Clarendon is Old English for ‘clover covered hill.’

Below is a great old advertisement from The Washington Post in 1900. Make sure you click on it for a larger version to read the ad.

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Washington Post advertisement for Clarendon real estate on April 22nd, 1900
Washington Post advertisement for Clarendon real estate on April 22nd, 1900

And here is yet another great advertisement from The Washington Post for Clarendon, the year it was dedicated.

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Real estate advertisement for Clarendon in the Washington Post on April 23rd, 1900
Real estate advertisement for Clarendon in the Washington Post on April 23rd, 1900

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • It’s “Robert Treat Paine,” FYI.

    • Oops … sorry for the typo. Thanks for flagging that.

  • Publius Washingtoniensis

    What became of Wood, Harmon and Co., “largest real estate operators in the world — 73 suburbs — 25 cities.”? I’ve lived in Washington since 1965, and I have never heard of this outfit.

  • guest

    I assume the “two years’ car fares free” and the “free car tickets” must be rail cars, i.e. train tickets? Still not too many automobiles around at this time, right?

    • Sheila

      It says in the Ad Falls Church Electric Railway. Pretty impressive for the time, and the distance into Washington back then.

  • Sheila

    I actually found a lot about this man. Check this out. He’s all over the net. And had another name!!!
    Jedediah Tingle!!!! He used it in a really interesting way too. Check it out here.
    http://www.lincoln-highway-museum.org/Harmon/WEHarmon-Index.html
    He also actually invented the Payment Plan too!!!