News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, August 31, 2020

Flashback Monday: Potemkin Postcards for Planned Community Particleboard Projects

Set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to sometime in the 1970s, when homebuilder Ryland Homes produced this lovely postcard of Ryland homes in Reston, Virginia, which they imaginatively titled "Ryland homes in Reston, Virginia." OR ARE THEY?

We love us some vintage postcards, but something's awry here. The excellent Facebook group "Reston, Remember When" tried to figure out exactly where these homes were located, with some early guesses including Stratton Woods, Polo Village, and Reston-adjacent Fox Mill Estates. But the generic housing stock aside, there are some suspiciously non-Restony things about the photos, like the lovely fenced-in front yard (very verboten in the communal Reston of yesteryear), the curbs (not very South Reston), the lighting and signage, and the (shudder) third-world nightmare of the one-car garage, which rules out much of Fox Mill.

We did learn the the homes had very non-Reston names, a homebuilder tradition that continues to this day. From left to right, your would-be 70s homebuyer could choose between the Portsmouth, the Raleigh, and for the guy who got an especially good bonus check from his strapping-bombs-to-dolphins government contractor, the HAMILTON SIGNATURE (which appears to have a few extra windows snapped into the vinyl siding; accompanying vinyl snap-in mullions were likely an extra feature).

Consensus seems to be that the homebuilder simply decided to recycle the photos from one of its other developments in the region, as the models were likely the same or at least highly similar. Maybe they didn't want to be associated with some of Reston's architectural excesses as the nation lurched out of the mod 1960s, so instead of suggesting the presence of nearby earth tones and actually architecturally interesting structures they just picked the most generic landscape imaginable -- a Potemkin particleboard village -- and hope people didn't take the scenic route through Reston on the way to the models.

It's not the first time there's been weirdness with Reston postcards. But. There's one horrifying theory. Ryland was also one of the early builders in Reston's satanic doppelgänger, Columbia, Maryland. Could this be the ultimate Potemkin Plastic Fantastic Planned Project Switcheroo? We may never know, but try saying that three times fast, the end.

1 comment:

  1. Those look like some of the houses in Fox Mill, i.e. on Viking Dr.


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