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What is that white building across from Reston Town Center?

November 11, 2009

3-26-08  Reston 024

Across from modern Reston Town Center lies some history

Wow…. pretty, but distorted heighthwise yo

Casper: I have seen this older looking white building across  Reston Ave  from Reston Town Center. Do you know what it is? It has been there for years.

Jan: This building housed the office of our primary real estate settlement attorney back in the early 1980’s, I learned a bit about it when cooling my heels in his waiting room…. it has a great history and we are glad that it has been saved. In the 1940’s, A.C. Bowman lived in the house and produced, “Virginia Gentleman’s Whiskey” from the distillery that was on the property. In the 1960’s, the house was sold to Robert E. Simon. Simon, who helped develop Madison Square Garden in NYC and whose family owned Carnegie Hall, liked the idea of the European piazza and as such, was instrumental in creating the Reston of today.

How Reston Got Its Name

Reston, named for Robert E. Simon’s initials R-E-S with the English word for town T-O-N, was the one of the first planned communities in the nation. The site, located along Old Reston Avenue, was purchased by Bowman in 1927 and served as his family’s estate. The Bowman mansion oversaw the family business, the Virginia Gentleman bourbon distillery, which is now the location of the Sallie Mae building.

Prison Fellowship bought the property in July 1983 and built the office buildings to house the organization’s staff. Prison Fellowship was founded in 1976 by former Nixon aide, Chuck Colson, who became a born-again Christian after a seven month prison stay for his role in the Watergate conspiracy. The organization, now led by former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, has become the world’s largest religious outreach program for prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families.

When my husband (Steve the other blog auther) and I first moved to Reston, there was no Town Center, no Reston north of Route 606 and the Smith Bowman distillery was in full function…lots of changes since then!


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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2009 10:46 pm

    The history here (by Jan) is accurate about Reston’s beginnings, but the house in this photo is not the Old Reston Ave. home that is referred to. This house was a Bowman home, but it was a son of A. Smith Bowman who lived there. Later, in the 60s, Bob Simon & family resided there for a while while working on Reston. This house is on Bowman Green Drive, just off Reston Parkway. It has been used as office space for ages – a tech firm was there in the boom years, and now it’s home to Ekko Title. The Bowman house of distillery fame (also known as the Wiehle Mansion, c. 1896) is indeed on Old Reston Ave., near Sunset Hills Road. It’s undergoing a major renovation by its newest owners – I’m curious what the future holds for the place.

    • November 13, 2009 1:15 pm

      Thanks Carol! We appreciate you stopping by. What have you found to be the most accurate source for Reston history?

  2. November 13, 2009 5:56 pm

    Reston Museum is the best source for Reston history – – feel free to add this link to your blog! Also visit Reston Museum at Lake Anne Village Center – it re-opened in September with a fabulous new exhibit. I am on the board of the Reston Historic Trust, which operates the museum, and I’ve co-chaired the annual Reston Home Tour since 2001. So, have had the privilege of learning a lot about Reston history, our founder Bob Simon, and much more. I also learned a lot from Audrey Hagan, the appointed historian for the Wiehle Mansion, before she moved out of the area. Wiehle Mansion was included in our home tour after Prison Fellowship sold it and it became “Linden Springs” for a while, before it was sold again this past spring to another non-profit group.

    • Jan & Steve Bachman permalink
      November 13, 2009 7:18 pm


      your comment became a blog post.


      Steve Bachman

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