40 years ago, when McLean was just beginning to turn into the burgeoning suburb that it is today, several members of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church had the foresight to make plans for the future. Thanks to that foresight, The Lewinsville retirement residence was able to celebrate its 25th anniversary last Sunday, Dec. 4.
"It's hard to believe that 25 years have gone by," said Alan Stevens, a director of the Board at The Lewinsville.
In 1966, the Congregation of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church approved plans to buy an additional nearby property, and on November 8,1967, the neighboring 3.86-acre Hammond-Eglin property was purchased for $91,213. It was not decided for several years what exactly would be done with the land, but in 1975, the church approved plans to use it for housing for the elderly.
"People were beginning to reach retirement age and were finding that they could no longer afford to live in this community," said Stevens.
In May of 1977, the non-profit corporation Lewinsville Retirement Residence, Inc. (LRR, Inc.) applied for funding under a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and in September learned that it had been one of only 200 successful applicants of the 1300 that had applied in the United States. On September 29, 1980, The Lewinsville retirement residence opened its doors and began taking in residents.
"And although it's been open for 25-plus years, it does not look like it is 25 years old," said Stevens.
William Chenault, also a Director of the Board at The Lewinsville, was involved in the creation of Lewinsville East, a new wing which opened on May 29, 2002. LLR, Inc. negotiated with West Group Development for two parcels of land on the former Evans Farm property, and was able to build an 18-unit facility that included a community room, wellness center and two assembly rooms. LLR, Inc. had to work with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, two major developers and HUD to see the project come to fruition.
"Lewinsville East represented a lot of cooperation," said Chenault. "It represented the kind of cooperation in a development situation which is rare, but which a church should be interested in bringing out."
ALICE COGGESHALL AND ANNA PRICE, two residents who have lived at The Lewinsville since its inception in 1980, were present at last Sunday's 25th anniversary celebration.
"I have occupied the same apartment for 25 years and have not only enjoyed the front view, but have been very happy with your choice of my neighbors," said Coggeshall as she spoke at Sunday's event. "It's been a little like grad school."
The Lewinsville is designed in an octagonal shape to allow the apartments to open up into a shared common area.
"So they kind of have neighborhoods which enables them to develop a sense of community," said Stevens.
Ticee Jensen, office manager at The Lewinsville, has worked there for seven years, and says she is actually "one of the newer staff members."
"People stay here a long time because it's a nice place to work," said Jensen. "I have a lot of interaction with the residents which is what makes my job so rewarding."
Reverend Gary Pinder, who recently retired from Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, was asked to give an impromptu speech at the anniversary celebration.
"I can only say that The Lewinsville has been one of the premiere accomplishments of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church," said Pinder. "It's been a marvelous accomplishment by all kinds of folks, and after 25 years, I can still see all the vibrancy and commitment that still persists – I may try and reserve a room myself."