Buildings of Historical Interest


This 19th-century farm house, originally called Springhill Farm, was improved by State Senator Joseph C. Byars in 1915. At that time, he named the house Alcova, an acronym for Alexandria County, Virginia (as Arlington was then called). Senator Byars later subdivided the farm into a residential development named Alcova Heights. Later owners included Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Wallop III. Mr. Wallop was the author of The Year The Yankees Lost The Pennant which later became the play Damn Yankees.


Arlington Hall, defining the north border of the neighborhood, has had a long and rich history. The property began as a women’s high school and junior college in 1927. Set in an attractive park-like environment with easy access to Washington, the school boasted indoor and outdoor riding areas and a noted equestrienne club. The school was forced to close in 1942 when the U.S. Government took possession of the property which it used for its most secret cryptographic activities. It is currently the home of the State Department’s National Foreign Affairs Training Center, as well as an Army National Guard office complex. Wikipedia provides an excellent summary of its use during World War II. Here is an excerpt:

“Arlington Hall was the headquarters of the US Army’s Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) cryptography effort during World War II… Arlington Hall was in many respects similar to Bletchley Park in England, though military and only one of two primary cryptography operations in Washington during the War… Arlington concentrated its efforts on the Japanese systems (including PURPLE) while Bletchley Park concentrated on European combatants. Arlington Hall eventually became one of the organizations and facilities of the National Security Agency after it was created.”

“The Arlington Hall effort was comparable in influence to other Anglo-American WW II-era technological efforts, such as the cryptographic work at Bletchley Park, the Naval Communications Annex, development of sophisticated microwave radar at MIT’s Radiation Lab, and the Manhattan Project’s development of nuclear weapons.”

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