Did you know that Clarendon tried to secede from Arlington County to become its own municipality? The resulting court case in 1922 helped make Arlington what it is today.  Our speaker, Sean Denniston, explains the case, what spurred it, and how the ruling has had lasting impact on what Arlington looks like today.

Sean Denniston has been a resident of Crystal City since 2007. He has a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and a master’s degree from Oxford University both in history and a law degree from Boston College. He  is on the AHS Board of Directors and serves as the AHS Secretary.  He is also a docent and all-around volunteer at the Arlington Historical Museum.

Bennett v. Garrett: When Arlington Became Arlington with local historian Sean Denniston was an AHS hosted event held via virtual attendance and in-person at Marymount University on June 9, 2022.

This video lasts 1 hour and 7 minutes.

The cover page of the case record – the transcript of the Circuit Court – that was reviewed by the Virginia Supreme Court. (more than 400 pages!)

One of the maps used in the trial of the case to discuss boundaries and aid testimony.

A close up of the map above focusing on Clarendon. The maps used in the trial have not survived but from the case record we know that maps were used and we know the detailed descriptions of the proposed boundaries as well as the “conditions” in a very different Arlington.

Howell & Taylor Map of Clarendon, 1900. Clarendon in 1900 consisted of 6 streets and 25 acres.

Wagner Map, 1928, shows the build up of Clarendon in the 1920s. By 1920 Clarendon had at least 17 streets (petitioners in the Bennett v. Garrett case claimed 50) and 701 acres.