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Glebe Road: History of Modern Day Arlington County

Learn about Glebe Road. It dates back to the 1700s and initially was known as the "Road to the Falls" taking travelers from Alexandria to Great Falls.
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Arlington’s Historical Lifeline

Glebe Road, or State Route 120 (SR 120), weaves through Arlington County, carrying a history as rich as the area itself. It stretches back to the 1750s, beckoning a closer look into the events that crafted this essential route. Contrary to what some might assume, Glebe Road owes its origins not to noble lineage but to lands known as “glebe,” designated to support the clergy of Fairfax Parish. These grounds forever linked their legacy to both the road and the notable Glebe House.

Glebe House: A Landmark of Legacy

Nestled at 4527 N. 17th St., the Glebe House arose between 1854 and 1857. It stands today as a beacon of historical importance, acknowledged both on the National Register of Historic Places and as part of the Local Historic District. The residence, famed for its unique octagonal wing, was home to Caleb Cushing, a distinguished lawyer and diplomat, from 1870 to 1878. Cushing’s impact was profound, from legal revisions to international negotiations, including the landmark Treaty of Washington.

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Image of The Glebe House in Arlington County, a historic residence dating back to 1773, with connections to significant figures like David Griffith, George Washington’s chaplain, and Caleb Cushing, a diplomat. Once a parish glebe house, it has served various roles including being sculptor Clark Mills’ studio and the headquarters of the National Genealogical Society, now restored as a private home.
The Historic Journey of The Glebe House: From George Washington’s Chaplain to the National Genealogical Society Headquarters. Source: DHR

Furthermore, the Glebe House boasts a verdant setting and historical architecture that captivates visitors. A boxwood path invites one to explore a narrative steeped in history. The oldest section, believed to replace the original Fairfax Parish Glebe House, connects the past to the present with an 1850s octagonal addition, crowned with a symbolic eagle from Spain.

SR 120: A Road Reborn

Through decades, Glebe Road’s significance has evolved, notably in 1940 when it adopted the SR 120 designation. This was part of a broader transformation that redefined the region’s roadways, showing the area’s progressive spirit.

Additionally, SR 120 has become a focal point for pedestrian-centric improvements. Following 2003 discussions, Arlington County launched initiatives in 2013 to ensure safe and enjoyable travel for its increasing pedestrian traffic.

Journeying Through Time on Glebe Road

Traveling Glebe Road today is an experience rich with the essence of time. It is a path that has supported colonial clergy and witnessed the endeavors of an influential diplomat. Now, it serves as a bustling corridor of Arlington County. SR 120 is more than mere asphalt. It’s a living story, continually unfolding and bearing the diverse legacy of Arlington’s history.

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