Robert E. Simon Historical Marker Project

How do we think Reston, Virginia came to be? Well, if it weren’t for it’s founder, Robert E. Simon, it would not be as bustling or yet, in existence at all.

Robert E. Simon Photograph originally taken by Sharon Reed-Patch, 18 December 2015

Robert E. Simon Jr. was born in Manhattan, New York, New York on April 10, 1914. He and his three sisters grew up in an upper-middle class family. His father unfortunately passed after Simon graduated Harvard in 1935. From this, he inherited his father’s real estate investment business. This included Carnegie Hall. Simon encountered a broker in 1963 who was going to be selling land in Fairfax County. Simon was an awe at the land and he wanted to create a new town. In the end, he bought 6,750 acres for $1,500 per acre and named the town Reston due to him wanting his initials to be included.

Important Events include:
-1962: Adoption of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors of Residential Planned Community Ordinance (RPC)
-1964: Singer Electronics Laboratory and Air Survey Corporation open for business. First residents move in
-1966: Official dedication with presentations by Poet Laureate Steven Spender and NYC Parks Commissioner August Hecksher, Interior Secretary Stuart Udall and representatives of 37 countries with “New Towns”
-1997: Simon returns to Reston and moves into his condo on the 13th floor of Heron House
-1998: He meets Cheryl Terio
-2009: Dedication of Nature House at Nature Center
-2010: Asian Festival at Brown’s Chapel

Map of the development of Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, Virginia

Lake Anne
Robert E. Simon contributed to the construction of Lake Anne Plaza, which was an important development in developing Reston, Virginia. Lake Anne Plaza has condominiums, stores, small businesses and town houses that envelop 27 acres of Lake Anne. It was named after Robert E. Simon’s wife. The plaza was declared a historic district by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to protect its “artchitectural significance”. In 1987, 10,000 of Reston’s 48,500 residents worked at Lake Anne Plaza, and almost 10,000 people resided there. Lake Anne had many people living there, young and old, and still does today. The average price for a single-family home in 1987 was $172,000.

Cow pasture where Reston Town Center stands

Reston Town Center
Robert E. Simon played a significant role in helping develop Reston Town Center. He helped endorse the project (Hockstader, L.). He said that after Fairfax County approved the first rezoning for Reston, it was “a thrill for [him] to be here now” because of the last major rezoning for the Reston community (Hockstader, L). Edgar A. Pritchard helped Simon with the rezoning–which was the first in Fairfax County to decide on having town houses. There was no opposition to the development of Reston Town Center, which could have been because of the road improvement package. It included a pledge to construct Springfield Bypass at four lanes and the widening of Reston Avenue south of Dulles Toll Road to East West Parkway. Today, Reston Town Center includes many shops, restaurants, an ice skating rink in the winter, concerts during the warmer weather and is a great place for family and friends to gather.

Simon eventually resided in Reston in 1993, until he died at the age of 101 in 2015. He died at home at Lake Anne in Reston. He inspired many residents of Reston, including students that went to South Lakes High School, those who lived in Lake Anne and other parts of Reston, people who shopped and dined at Reston Town Center, and those who helped Simon develop Reston. He lived a great legacy for all and hopefully inspired its residents and employees to continue this for making Reston even better than it is today.

References
Davis, P. (1987). According to Plan at Reston’s Lake Anne Village: Lake Anne Village Fulfills Expectations. The Washington Post (1974-), 2. https://www.proquest.com/hnpwashingtonpost/docview/139224678/AB28279187B4B5EPQ/1?accountid=14541

Hockstader, L. (1987). New ‘Downtown’ Approved in Reston: 343-Acre Town Center Project Called ‘Jewel in the Crown’ ‘Downtown’ Approved In Reston. The Washington Post (1974-), 2. https://www.proquest.com/hnpwashingtonpost/docview/139235719/abstract/FC53C9B6421D4ADEPQ/8?accountid=14541

(2021). A Brief History of Reston, Virginia. Reston Museum. https://www.restonmuseum.org/restonhistory

Plum, K., R (2015). Robert E. Simon, Jr. Reston Connection, 18. https://connectionarchives.com/PDF/2015/092315/Reston.pdf

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