Post WWII population growth

WBPDP_1967_Marumsco Village 2.jpg


Click on one of the tabs below to reveal historical narratives on Marumsco, Lomond, & Dale City.



Cecil D. Hylton was responsible for much of Prince William County's population growth in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s through his company's construction of housing developments and shopping plazas. Hylton was born in 1917 and his family moved from rural Floyd County in Southwest Virginia to Centreville in Fairfax County when he was eight years old. Hylton began as a farmer selling sod to a builder and eventually began harvesting timber from his property to experiment with building.[1] He was a landscaper who maintained the properties of suburban homes in metropolitan Washington D.C. Hylton watched as countless suburban communities were built, most of which were far beyond the working man's budget. He became interested in the possibility of building high quality yet affordable suburban homes for middle-class families.

Hylton's experimentation with construction began with a four-bedroom home he built for his family in Centreville, Virginia. He proceeded to purchase small pieces of land and built several homes. Soon enough, Hylton was spending more time building than landscaping.[2] He bought land in Prince William County's Woodbridge section and on the west side of Manassas and eventually built housing developments such as Marumsco Acres, West Gate of Lomond, and Dale City. He was described as a shy person with simple taste and a belief in building planned communities of affordable, practical, and spacious homes of varying styles. Hylton and his wife had three children and relocated to Marumsco Hills, one of his own communities. His company, C.D. Hylton Enterprises, was worth over $20 million in the late 1960s.[1] He is believed to have built more than 40,000 housing units.[3]

Hylton's construction netted many awards, among them the Northern Virginia Builders Association awards for "excellence in construction with outstanding workmanship" for his Dale city town houses and Birchdale Avenue homes in 1967, and for Dale City's "Salem" style house in 1968.[4, 5] In 1971's "Finest for Family Living" contest hosted by the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Washington, the Hylton Building Corp's Dale City development won in the category for traditional town house in the $20,000 - $30,000 range.[6] The Hyltons were also a charitable family. Having purchased a large amount of land in Prince William County that was eventually worth many millions of dollars, Hylton donated land to the county for parks, a high school, three middle schools, 12 elementary schools, a hospital, a church, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Prince William County.[3, 7]

Hylton's personality and business goals were described in the following ways: Hylton is a hard-working, honest, persistent and unassuming private enterpriser and family man who sought to build affordable, quality housing in cohesive communities that were in close proximity to jobs, highways, and shopping. Although his massive projects earned him comparisons to Fairfax County developer and attorney John "Til" Hazel and the New York and Philadelphia area's William J. Levitt, Hylton was not politically involved and shied away from the spotlight. And although Hylton's work was sometimes criticized as aesthetically unimpressive, "stark," and "treeless," he argued that his focus was on the quality and affordability of his products.[8] Hylton did not speak to the media often but in 1960 he expressed the reasoning behind his career in home building:

"We have many thousands of young American families who want their own homes, but often their income is modest… We have found that these people are anxious to get into their own homes. Our projects are geared for the families who can afford only a small down payment - $100 a month covers everything in most cases. Our land costs less, because we are 'farther out' and the taxes are lower. Many of our people have careers at nearby Belvoir and Quantico. There's good transportation too. All our homes are a 30-to-45-minute ride from Washington… Why I can remember when Woodbridge was hardly a wide place in the road. Now you can see all these occupied homes here. Seems like a lot of people like a lot of people like what we're building enough to buy here and enjoy life."[2]


The first major highway to be constructed in northern Virginia was Interstate 495, the final section of which opened on April 2, 1964. The National Highway (later called Interstate 95) had been built to ease the traffic-ridden Route 1 corridor and to connect the northeast corridor's major cities to locations southward along the east coast. The Northern Virginia section of what is now I-95 (then Shirley Highway) was built in the 1950's.[9, 10] The construction of these major routes had greatly extended the growth potential of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Major employers in the D.C. area were now readily accessible to many points south of Arlington and Alexandria, including as far as Prince William County. The close proximity of Quantico Marine Corp base and Fort Belvoir also enhanced the area's appeal. Interstate 95 was expanded from a 4-lane to a 6-lane highway in the mid 1960s.


Originally spelled "Maryumsco" in the 19th century, Marumsco stems from an Algonquin Indian term that translates into "at the island rock." From the 1890s into the early 1900s, the "Morumsco Dairy Farm" operated near the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (RF&P) freight stop, a substantial convenience for the farm's milk can shipping needs. Railroad operations had named the location's stop "Marumsco," thus establishing where the current spelling originated. Prior to Marumsco, the rail stop was named "Mount Pleasant" after a nearby plantation house. The RF&P Marumsco stop was discontinued during the Great Depression due to its close proximity to other rail stations, namely Occoquan Station.[11]

Activity in the area was largely dependent on tourists, a lumber mill, brickyard, trucking, and farming. However, following the Second World War the expansion of highways, growth of automobile use, the GI Bill, proximity to the nation's capital, and incessant marketing of living the "American Dream" pushed housing demand into Prince William County and the edges of metropolitan areas across the country. C.D. Hylton foresaw the demand for suburban living and had purchased land in and around the Woodbridge area. Housing developments such as Belmont, Featherstone, Garfield Estates, and Woodbridge Estates and began to emerge in the Marumsco area in the mid-1950s. Marumsco Village was the first large-scale development by C.D. Hylton. In February 1956 about 70 families had already settled into the community of colorful single-family homes with model names such as The Carlton, The Cecilia, The Lyntonian, and The Hyltonian. The community advertised about 64 different color combinations among the homes. Part of Marumsco Village's attraction were prices that ranged $2,000-$3,000 below the Washington D.C. market price combined with just a two percent down-payment for GI home buyers. The Hyltonian, a three bedroom split level home, had a price tag of $14,315 in September of 1957. The budget Rambler home models had lower price tags.[12-14]

Building continued into the early 1960s as communities with names such as Marumsco Hills, Marumsco Acres, and Marumsco Woods were developed. By October 1960, more than 1,500 of these homes were occupied and over 2,000 had been built. C.D. Hylton Enterprises had built over 120 homes between June and September of 1960 alone.[15] The following is the text from a September 12, 1959 Washington Post advertisement titled "The Panorama Stars at Marumsco Village" about the "Panorama" home model:

"Marumsco Village, Va., an established community of more than 1000 families, is featuring this home during the Homes of '59. Designed to provide buyers with a completely liveable [sic] home, it has a large living room and recreation room, both with a 14-foot picture window, three bedrooms and two full baths. An extra feature is baseboard hot-water heat. Price of the Panorama is $15,616. Other models are priced from $14,560. No money down VA financing is available. Marumsco Village is about 25 minutes driving time from the Pentagon. A new 16-room elementary school will serve the community this fall. Exclusive sales agent for the homes is Thrifty Home Sales, Inc. The established community has all city utilities." [16]

As the Marumsco area grew, an Olympic-size swimming pool was installed in Marumsco Village and opened in the summer of 1961 with memberships selling for $200.[17] The first homes at Marumsco Woods opened in late summer of 1962, built on a slope just east of U.S. Route 1 overlooking the Potomac River and Occoquan Bay. At that time Hylton had grand plans to add upwards of 1,000 homes to the community on 500 acres of land.[18] In 1962 alone Cecil. D. Hylton Enterprises sold 483 in its Marumsco residential developments.[19] In 1963, the company hit record sales and sold 787 new homes for a total of $3.3 million. That same year Hylton also built 100 apartment units in Woodbridge. To round out a big year for Hylton Enterprises, the company constructed Marumsco Plaza Shopping Center, which housed about 30 retail spaces on U.S. Route 1 in Woodbridge.[20] In the decade spanning 1954-1964, it was said that more than 4,000 residential units had been constructed in Marumsco.[21] By 1965, it was reported that there were over 5,400 Hylton homes in Northern Virginia. In the year leading up to March 1965, the organization reported 1,248 home sales.[22].


News of C.D. Hylton's home construction in western Manassas often took a backseat to his larger and more widely-advertised developments at Marumsco and elsewhere. However, Hylton built homes in Manassas concurrently with his Marumsco interests. The same home models were often built in both areas. The first cape and rambler home models in Loch Lomond Village were shown in the Spring of 1958. This developing neighborhood was located along Denver Drive and its off-shooting streets within the borders of what became Manassas Park City.[23] Development of Loch Lomond neighborhoods on the Prince William side continued from 1962 through about 1966, with neighborhoods of single-family homes constructed in the immediate vicinities of Alleghany Road, Amherst Drive, Appomattox Avenue, Lomond Drive, Victoria Street, Westmoreland Avenue, and Claremont Street.

Simultaneously, West Gate of Lomond opened just west of Loch Lomond in July of 1962 and was planned as a far-flung suburban bedroom community for capital commuters. With a total of 19 models ranging from $13,790 to $21,425, Hylton sold 83 homes at the development within two months of opening. Plans for the development included playgrounds, churches, a swimming pool, and a shopping center.[24] Hylton's plans called for a "total city" located "within view of the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains" and located "just off the Manassas interchange of Route 66."[25] As the area expanded, more roads were constructed and in 1964 the Prince William County Hospital was built just a few minutes from West Gate.[26] Hylton soon built a shopping plaza along Route 243 (Sudley Road) accompanied by Westgate Apartments next-door, which houses 125 units of apartments and townhouses.[27]


Dale City is an area of rolling hills and creeks with steep hillsides. Prior to development, the landscape was rural and mostly composed of forestland and small farming operations. British farmers occupied the land and several historic graveyard sites suggest early settlers. About one third of the Dale City Planning Area (as it was defined in 1969) contains slope gradients of 15% or greater and the elevation ranges from less than 50 to more than 400 feet above sea level.[28] Hylton began to buy land just west of I-95 in the early 1960s, anticipating demand for development along Interstate 95. Hylton envisioned a planned satellite community of 50,000 people on roughly 7,000 acres of land only 12 miles south of the Washington Beltway. At the time, there was also a proposal for an outer beltway that would have straddled the southern boundary of Dale City.[29] He believed that the growth of the nation's capital into the 1970s would ensure Dale City's survival and continued growth.[30] It was said that Dale City got its name from the "hills" and "dales" that comprise the terrain.[7]

The first action that paved the way for Dale City was the creation of a 443-acre single-family R-10 district in 1964. In 1965 199 acres were rezoned in the townhouse R-T district and multi-family RM-1 district – some of which were in the original R-10 district and others in the Agricultural A-1 zone. That same year, 258 acres were added to the existing R-10 district. Soon, all of the aforementioned land plus more parcels were rezoned into a Residential Planning Community (RPC) district. In 1968 a large tract of nearly 1,000 acres was zoned R-10. The land was somewhat near the RPC district and was under control of C.D. Hylton. [31]

The Prince William Board of Supervisors fulfilled Hylton's request to rezone his purchased land from agricultural zoning to "Residential Planned Communities" (RPC) Division in April of 1965, as specified in the county's Comprehensive Plan. The RPC allowed for the construction of satellite communities within swaths of land containing over 750 contiguous acres owned by a single entity. The RPC Divisions are allowed in areas where sewer, water, garbage, and transportation infrastructure are able to be accommodated. Also, the RPC Division set forth the requirement to promote a variety of housing types and land uses with close attention to how these land uses and subdivisions are distributed and interconnected. Dale City was born out of this 1965 zoning amendment.[8, 32] As stated by a county supervisor in the 1980s, granting Hylton the RPC was "the day they gave the county away."[8]

The RPC specified the implementation of land uses "in orderly relationship to one another," and as such, Hylton's firm was instructed by the county's Board of Supervisors to submit a preliminary plan that shows the proposed locations of parks, recreation centers, schools, land use types, densities, parking, open space, and networks of transportation, utilities, and drainage systems. Low, medium, medium-high, and high-density categories were permitted in the RPC zone, each with their own cap on persons per acre of gross residential land (GRL). On the low end of the scale, low-density areas were capped at 3.9 persons per acre of GRL. On the high end of the scale, high-density areas were capped at 60 persons per acre of GRL. Multiple mentions of high-rise residential buildings in the RPC zoning ordinance amendment provides a snapshot into the diversity of densities envisioned. Within residential land uses, the development of commercial establishments was restricted to no more than 1.5 acres of neighborhood commercial use per 1,000 persons. Despite no restrictions on residential minimum lot size, setbacks, width, and coverage, the Board of Supervisors specified that all single-family dwelling must have access to a public street or walkway and no single-family unit should be less than 24 feet from any other unit.[32]

Dale city formally opened on Saturday June 19th, 1965 with a showing of twelve furnished home models, kicking off what was estimated to be a $500,000,000 project.[30] After continued construction, the first family moved to Dale City during the holiday season of 1965. A man in charge of Dale City home sales presented lavish gifts to Robert A. Roper, an Army Sergeant stationed at Fort Belvoir, and his wife.[33] The couple moved into one of Hylton's "Roanoke" home models; a two-story three bedroom, two full bathroom home with a gas range, oven and broiler, refrigerator and washer, optional air conditioning, and a paneled recreation room.[34] As construction of single-family homes continued, Hylton also planned to pepper Dale City's neighborhoods with town homes. Around September of 1966, Hylton's first section of 38 townhouses were sold out and 402 single-family homes were occupied.[35] Nearly one year later in August of 1967, Dale City's tallied its 1,000th family. Charles E. Henry, his wife, and four children moved into a split-foyer model at Dale City from a Hylton home in Marumsco. The family was showered with a television from the Hylton firm, various gifts from Marumsco retailers, as well as flowers and champagne from Dale City's sales director.[36]

Hylton was not entirely satisfied with the affordability of his Dale City homes, so in October of 1967, his firm released five new home models priced lower than any other previous home models. These homes were designed and advertised as the total package: wall-to-wall carpeting, refrigerator, range, fully landscaped property, underground utilities, and a hook-up to a master cable TV-FM community antenna. Hylton geared the homes toward young families with an annual income of no more than $6,000.[37] More townhomes were also built in 1967, such as those with nine different styles at the award-winning (NVBA) Birchdale Square priced between $16,950 to $21,500 at the time.[38] While in May of 1967 Dale City was said to have over 3,000 residents,[39] in September of 1968 this number rapidly rose to more than 7,100 residents in 1,789 occupied homes. An average household size of four persons was used in this calculation. In the first seven months of 1968, 645 families moved into Dale City, making it one of the most rapidly growing communities in the country. At this time Hylton had expanded his home-building business into Maryland, where he began building and selling homes at "Marlboro Meadows" along Route 301 in Prince George's County on a 1,180 acre site with 2,700 planned residential units.[40]

As of January 1968, Hylton Enterprises had logged over 7,600 homes in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area in less than two decades. A January 1968 Washington Post article titled "Hylton's Dale City Strategic to Growth in Prince William" described Dale City in detail as it began to occupy a more substantial portion of the landscape. Staff writer John B. Willmann stated:

"As do many mass-produced home builders, Hylton repeats the same basic home designs, with some variations, and some streets tend to be dominated by a particular model, particularly suited to the terrain. But the street patterns are generally curving and strong on cul de sacs. Neighborhoods are built up around a main street that is in no sense a throughway. The townhouses, with some of the most attractive exteriors to be found in even higher price ranges, are set off by themselves in clusters somewhat removed from the single-family dwellings… Hylton officials have promised an early start on a shopping center near the entrance to Dale City, with the much-needed 70,000 square-foot facility due to be open late this year… a Hylton official noted that sales in the last two years have brought many families whose employment may be considered relatively far away but now accessible via widened Route 95 and the Beltway."[41]

The Hylton organization was headquartered in the basement of Hylton's Marumsco Shopping Center. At this point in time, Cecil Hylton was president and general superintendent, Donald McEacher was general manager, James Homeyer was sales manager, and John Walvius was production coordinator. It was stated that Prince William County was projected to grow from an estimated 100,000 (1968) to 250,000 in 1985, much due to Hylton's construction and rapid suburbanization in the Washington, D.C. metro area.[41] In late 1968, a mortgage banking firm by the name of Thomas J. Fisher & Co. Inc. offered over $5 million in financing to C.D. Hylton Enterprise for home building in Dale City and Marlboro Meadows. The construction of 450 new homes in Dale City was to be financed by the firm. The homes were set to range in price from $18,000 to $30,000 with VA or FHA financing and no money down loans.[42] Also in late 1968, Dale City residents started up what was believed to be the first closed-circuit community-operated television system in the nation. The system was started by chairman of the Dale City Civic Association committee Roger Hale and the Junior Chamber of Commerce. The program's antenna television system had planned to eventually buy professional equipment to broadcast civic association meetings, Little League games, education courses, and political speakers.[43] A $4,700 grant from a local food chain enabled the program to purchase its own equipment and broadcast at any time.[44]

Hylton applied for rezoning to extend the RPC district to include most of the 1,000 acres of R-10 residential, AND to alter the land use specifications of over 2/3 of the original RPC. The request involved altering 2,528 acres. The extension of the Dale Boulevard right-of-way into the R-10 zone justified rezoning it to RPC, which was approved in 1968. The Board of Supervisors was encouraging Hylton to undertake massive developments. The board also expected many amenities to be included (roads, schools, open space).[31] As Dale City continued to grow rapidly, the Prince William County Planning Department decided to compose a detailed "Proposed Development Plan" to guide future growth in the Dale City Planning Area, which was designated among other planning areas in the 1965 comprehensive plan. The proposed development plan was submitted to Dr. A. J. Ferlazzo (Chairman of the county Board of Supervisors) on February 14, 1969 by Director of Planning Dexter N. Smith. This report was generated as a part of the comprehensive plan to "lay the foundation for sounder decision-making by the public and private agencies which influence or are influenced by the development within the planning area." Prince William County estimated that 8,170 residents lived in 2,070 households in Dale City as of July 1968. It was also estimated that Dale City has an average household size of 4.03. Town houses had an average of 3.6 occupants. 86 percent of homes in the Dale City Planning area were single-family homes.[28]

In April of 1969 Dale City was estimated to house 2,300 families, two churches, two schools, a nearly-completed fire station, a recreation area, and a new shopping center.[45] However, such services fell short of what was promised and in 1969 residents grew impatient with "planned" amenities that never arrived. For example, when Dale City's first home models opened to the public in July 1965, a Dale City advertisement titled "A New Concept… The Complete Community" filled an entire page of The Washington Post. The detailed ad stated the following about Dale City's future:

"Not just exciting new home design concepts and conveniences alone, but a way of life that allows the ultimate in individual expression and enjoyment. Dale City is the dedicated work of a picked team of planners, architects, designers, financiers, and builders who understand local conditions and living needs. At Dale City, intermediate and high schools are being planned with class sizes BELOW the prevailing average… and the quality of construction ABOVE. A splendid array of stores, shops and services will await you at the enormous (100 acres) Community Center… with a covered mall for year-'round comfort. The first 18-hole golf course has been blocked out, and a second is in the planning stages… with another, a "pitch & putt" 9-holer in the offing. Tennis courts, bridle trails, baseball, picnic areas, hiking pathways and swimming pools will be placed so as to best serve everybody! And the nearest marina is just 3 MILES! All utilities will be underground. Underground television cables will bring 10 CHANNELS plus two educational channels to every Dale City resident. Every home has combination aluminum storm & screen doors and windows, hot water baseboard heating, metal gutters and downspouts, circuit breakers, gas lights on the front lawn, hardwood oak floors. Wise investors will realize that Dale City lies directly in the path of progress… that the burgeoning Capital area growth is sure to follow Ninety-Five to and beyond Dale City."[46]

Such promises were made in some of the first Dale City brochures. At a time when the community reached 10,000 residents living in 2,550 homes, hopes were waning. In other planned cities such as Reston and Columbia, all services and amenities were provided by the developer. In fact, the first residents in these cities were provided local convenience stores, whereas residents of Dale City had to wait three years. Residents were accustomed to the 5 to 7-mile drive to the shopping centers along Route 1 in the Marumsco section of Woodbridge. Because of this, Methodist minister Rev. Ben Pratt and Patrick Portway put together the Dale City Civic Association (DCCA), which formed out of public meetings designed to get Hylton to resolve minor community deficiencies. Some of the most substantial influence that DCCA had were the planning and zoning committees of DCCA and a presence at Board of Supervisors meetings. Although the group had tried to establish a positive working relationship with Hylton and his representatives, these efforts fell short.[44, 47]

Rev. Pratt insisted that Hylton's only motivation for Dale City was profit. Prat and Portway's DCCA grew to a membership of about 2,000, which consisted of almost half of the community's adults. The prices and quality of the homes were not on DCCA's list of complaints. The complaints mainly featured a list of promises made to hundreds of Dale City homebuyers. Hylton Enterprise's production coordinator John Walvius defended these complaints by stating that Dale City's brochure included a page promising features such as golf courses, swimming pools, nature trails, picnic areas, bridle trails, and so on. However, this page was only in the brochure from June through December of 1965. After thousands of home shoppers had seen the amenity-filled brochure and when a second brochure was printed with the same page, it was manually cut out after more than 500 homebuyers had purchased homes. Walvius said that as engineering on the Dale City project progressed, it became unfeasible to build a lake and golf courses. Walvius also stated that the hiking and picnic areas were not present because County agencies began asking for "land quality" instead of "land mass." Hylton had never spoken to any DCCA representatives and refused almost every interview request by reporters.[47] The large billboard for Dale City along I-95 contained the text "Dale City, A Planned Community."[48] At the core of residents' arguments was that "planned communities" include more than just homes, as exhibited in both Columbia and Reston.

Despite countless broken promises, Dale City continued to attract scores of families, perhaps capitalizing solely on its affordability, attractive home models, and convenience to I-95 and the capital region. In late 1969, Dominic Capozzolo, a civil engineer working out of a Falls Church office, explained why he and his family chose Dale City: "We came here because it fit well with our finances at the time. It cost me $100 to get the key and move in." For David and Eve Touch, finances also played a key role in their decision to call Dale City home: "We looked in Belair, Md., in the Levitt community. We needed a heck of a lot of money down. At the time, we thought it was too far out. Now we're the same distance out – in the opposite direction." Despite David's 32-mile commute to the George Washington Hospital Research Center in Washington, D.C., the $171 move-in cost sealed the deal. A Fall 1968 survey spearheaded by the County's Planning Commission revealed that the average Dale City resident was about 31.5 years old and the average family contained three to four individuals with one to two automobiles. The survey also indicated that 35 percent of Dale City's workers commuted to Washington, D.C. and 55 percent worked in the district's immediate suburbs. About a quarter of all wage earners worked for the military and slightly over one quarter worked in technical or professional job categories. The community was expected to have a population of 80,000 by the year 2000. [48] In 2010, the Dale City CDP (Census Designated Place) tallied nearly 66,000 residents.[49]

The DCCA wasn't just organized as a platform to air grievances and other concerns, it was established to fill social and recreational voids left by Hylton. The DCCA organized activities such as gardening, boating, scouting, majorettes, Little League, arts and crafts, women's clubs, and even weight-watching. However, despite having eclipsed 10,000 residents in the late 1960s, residents still had to bus children to school in Woodbridge, had to drive to Marumsco and Fairfax County for shopping, had no public transportation options, and the closest hospital was about 30 minutes away in Manassas. Despite the couple's positive thoughts about the move-in cost, Dominic Capozollo's wife (former Arlington resident) found Dale City isolating: "When I was first stuck out here, you don't know how I dreamed of Arlington and its buses. It was like being in prison. I had to go 10 miles [round-trip] for milk before the store opened. It's better now since my husband bought a second car for me." Surveys indicated that residents missed department stores and restaurants the most. Although he had many criticisms of Hylton and Dale City, another resident stated: "It's necessary these days to have homes where you're not stacked on top of each other, where you can put up a corral around your ranch-style home and give the kids and wife an adequate place to live."[48]

A year later, Hylton Enterprises celebrated selling over 1,000 homes between January and November 30th of 1970. Prince William County's population had soared from 22,612 in 1950 to 50,164 in 1960 and to 111,102 in 1970.[50] Much of the county's population growth over these two decades was due to Hylton's Marumsco, Loch Lomond, West Gate, and Dale City housing developments. After the numbers from the 1970 Census came in, some of the county's problems were to blame on rapid growth. Supervisor Andrew J. Donnelly of Woodbridge stated that the county's most pressing need was a plan for future development. County officials believed much of the growth had been "uncontrolled" and measures in place to limit growth had been too weak or not timely enough. It some areas of the county the sewage system was unable to handle the growth. Nokeville's sewage treatment plant often experienced 'infiltration', where the sewage left the plant in the same form as it entered. During rain events, the manhole at the end of a sewer pipe that serves the George E. Tyler elementary school in Gainesville routinely spewed raw sewage in a stream by a cow pasture, violating state regulations. County Supervisor Robert W. Alvey of the Gainesville and Haymarket districts stated that if the Tyler school's sewage pipe was part of a larger permanent system, "we might have the first planned growth in the history of Prince William County."[51] In late 1973 the Dale City Service Corp. was in the process of converting it's sewage treatment plant to a more advanced technique that would allow for continued residential growth. Hylton Enterprises had spent about $3.25 million on sewage treatment and the new project was estimated to cost the firm an additional $6.75 million. Residents were expected to pay almost $100 per year for sewage treatment when the new system became a reality.[52]

As the 1970s unraveled, so did Washington D.C.'s commuters. Workers and families kept moving further away from the district and its inner suburbs. As Washington Post staff writer Kenneth Bredemeier stated in a November 1972 article, "As the inner suburban ring of Fairfax, Arlington, Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Alexandria city produce more jobs, stores and entertainment – and thus become more like cities – the outer-lying cities and counties become suburbia's suburbs." Renowned architecture critic and social philosopher Lewis Mumford once wrote, "To withdraw like a hermit and live like a prince – this was the purpose of the original creators of the suburb." In 1970 an estimated 11,175 people commuted to the district and its inner suburbs from far-flung counties beyond the half-hour commutes of Dale City and West Gate residents. William Hack, a civil engineer with the Coast Guard, moved from Arlington County to Dale City in late 1969. After there were too many people in Dale City, Hack and his family moved to a white-shingled rambler in Stafford County, 48 miles from his workplace in Washington, D.C. Some people cited crowding and safety issues as reasons for moving. Earl Menefee was a young operating engineer at the Smithsonian Institution and commuted to the district from Front Royal. He reasoning was as follows: "The drive would make some people sick, not me. Here I wouldn't be afraid to leave my house unlocked. I go in there everyday and there are shootings, stabbings, robberies and riots. You name it."[53]

As the Washington D.C. metro area expanded, so did vehicle traffic. The days of the once-advertised travel times of 25 to 30 minutes from Dale City to the Pentagon were beginning to wane. In 1972 more than 5,000 vehicles used Dale City's Route 642 interchange I-95 each day, often jammed up for 20 minutes just waiting to exit the highway. The interchange was built to handle 780 vehicles per day. Virginia's highway engineer and Prince William resident David Camper said that these traffic problems would continue to expand further out from Washington D.C.'s core. New housing developments in Aquia Harbor would create the same traffic jams further south, he said. The state highway department proposed a longer exit ramp from I-95 that dumps directly onto Dale Boulevard, Dale City's main thoroughfare.[54]

In 1972 Prince William County began to operate in the form of a County Executive government. The county also obtained all powers conferred on all counties by the General Assembly. The county had general/regulatory powers and specific/police powers. The board's general powers are much more influential when it comes to land use planning. Land development in PWC has been largely shaped by the Board's actions pursuant to its general powers. The Board of Supervisors retained all of its general powers to impact land use.[31] In June of 1973, Dale City was home to approximately 24,000 people, and was not poised to stop growing anytime soon. Although growth restrictions such as moratoriums on sewer connections went into effect in nearby counties and elsewhere in Prince William, such regulation did not apply to Dale City because of the Residential Planned Community (RPC) established in April of 1965. The special zone allowed Hylton to continue building at 1,000 units per year without having to consult the County Board of Supervisors for rezoning and other permissions. Hylton built his own sewage treatment plants and pipes, following all mandated upgrades and regulations. When he built more homes, he expanded the system himself. In 1973 Hylton's Dale City homes started at just over $41,000 and had appreciated greatly since some of the first buyers purchased homes for under $20,000 several years prior. As traffic congestion, school overcrowding, and land erosion problems grew around Dale City, the county grew more frustrated as their hands were tied from enacting measures to scale back Dale City's growth.[55]

In November of 1973 the Board of Supervisors denied multiple subdivision plans for Dale City due to many of the aforementioned concerns and requested a revision of the Dale City Plan. As requested, the Prince William County Planning Office released a lengthy report called "Dale City Plan" in 1974 to communicate current problems, propose solutions, and guide future growth. The RPC zones translated to less regulatory requirements with an emphasis on self-sustainment and broad control. Lake Ridge, Country Club Lake, Sudley, and Rippon Tract were all RPC zones. The fine print of RPC zoning was modeled after Reston Virginia.[56] The Dale City Plan report "called for a 5-year moratorium on residential rezonings in and around Dale City" and stated that "new legal authority may have to be found to make sure the report's recommendations are enforced. In particular, the report stated that without fast action, public services in Dale City would deteriorate substantially: traffic congestion would worsen, schools would overcrowd, flooding would increase, and other public services wouldn't fulfill the population's demands. Soil erosion was a large problem due to Hylton's practice of clear-cutting housing tracts, stripping the land to bare earth, and implementing large amounts of grading. With barely any jobs, dedicated school sites, parks, and commuting lots in the immediate area, Dale City has hardly fulfilled its duty as a self-sustaining RPC zone. Other recommended revisions to the RPC ordinance included a cap on units built per year, required road enhancements, open space requirements, and so on [57]

1974 was hard on Dale City. An uncertain economy and the gasoline crises led to the appearance of many for-sale signs across Dale City properties. Sale manager Angel Akin of Country Properties in Woodbridge stated that in March of 1973 there were at least 20 home sales per day. In March of 1974 (at time of the article), there were approximately 5 sales per day. The article stated that many owners were looking for homes closer to Washington, D.C. Amid the energy crisis, suburbs like Prince William County were getting a "bad rap" because of their reliance on automobiles and gasoline.[58] As the crisis settled down Hylton wished to expand Dale City's territory in 1975 to add 819 acres of land zoned for agricultural use. The county's Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected the deal. This was a setback for Hylton but a sound decision according to the county's planning office. Dale City had an estimated population of 26,342 in November of 1974 with 7,020 housing units.[59] The Dale City Food Buyer's Association was also established in 1975 to obtain food directly from growers in the region at a lower price than supermarkets. The co-op grew to 600 families and began operating in other locations in northern Virginia.[60]

In 1974 Hylton built about 621 homes in Dale City and in 1975 built only 180. However, his development kicked slightly upward in the late 1970s when he built nearly 1,000 more units between 1977 and 1979. In April of 1977 a Potomac News article titled "Pioneers Faced Mud" reflected on the over-a-decade-old community's rocky start. The article reminisced on a time in the late 1960s when community spirit was high and residents built a community by establishing a fire department, the first Little League built with the assistance of the Army Corp of Engineers. Although the community was small enough to know your neighbors and your neighbor's neighbors, the sense of community dwindled as Dale City grew larger:

A resident by the name of Mrs. Ramey reminisced:

"There was a time when I knew everyone in Ashdale and Birchdale."

Resident Brian Fulton said that when the neighborhoods were first built, Dale City was...

"like a rural type community. It was real nice. Comfortable living. No hustle and bustle like now." And despite all the broken promises that many long-time residents had to deal with, most say they've enjoyed their time there and the affordability of the community was the biggest plus."

A resident by the name of Mrs. Calfee stated:

"This is not the Dale City it was supposed to be originally… I still love it. I hope to die here."[61] In 1978 it was estimated that about 15% of Dale City's homes turned over each year.[62] In the late 1970s, the Mapledale and Nottingdale subdivisions were constructed."

Rushford K. Fleshman, who ran Hylton's utilities company Dale Service Corp and the cable television firm , Cable T.V., Inc. stated:

"He never gave land away that he didn't have to give away, didn't even like to pay for trash barrels in his shopping centers. He didn't believe in furnishing anything except for the basics."

Former Neabsco Supervisor James J. McCoart stated:

"Here was a builder who built an entire city in a time when there weren't any rules or regulations for building. And when the time came for the county to get tougher with rules and regulations, [Hylton] couldn't understand that."

In 1977 the conflict between the county and Hylton reached a climax: Hylton Enterprises filed suit against Prince William when the county turned down a Dale City subdivision plan because Hylton wouldn't enlarge two state roads adjacent to the property. The VA Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hylton, stating that "local governments may not require off-site road improvements by a developer", despite the county's contention that rapid growth in Dale City demanded bigger roads to carry the traffic.

James J. McCoart elaborated:

"The only way we could ever get something was when he wanted something. He wasn't going to give you something for nothing. But he built a good community."[8]

The Hylton Group designed and built a new series of homes in 1998 and planned to continue developing until the remaining 4,500 lots in the original Dale City plan are developed. The homes developed in the late 1990s ranged from 1,500 to more than 2,500 square feet. The O'Learys raised two children in Dale City. In a November 1997 article in the Potomac News, the O'Learys said they reluctantly planned to move away. The articles stated that over the years, most of the original homeowners had moved on… retired to places such as North Carolina, Florida, and even Fredericksburg.

Now it was the O'Learys turn to leave. They stated the following:

"Hylton built a quality house. Under these carpets are oak floors, and the woodwork is oak, too. In fact, when we bought this house, it was the only one that was all brick. That was just unheard of then. The quality was there then, and still is today. They [the Hylton Group] were always there to repair things, make them right… there was never a time any of us called them that they didn't make it right. That's hard to beat."[7]

In 2001, it was said that affordability was still a powerful lure in Dale City. The article states that as you exit I-95 at Dale City, one sees the familiar signs of suburbia when merging onto Dale Blvd: Big Kmart, Denny's, McDonald's. On the trip one passes Ashdale, Birchdale, Cloverdale, and then Darbydale. Darbydale was the 4th neighborhood built in Dale City. In 2001, 4 bedroom homes in this community went for less than $200,000. The residents are diverse and former Secretary of the State Colin Powell lived in Darbydale for 7 years in the late 1960s and early 1970s on DeSoto Court. The neighborhood had no homeowners association and no restrictions on renovations or vehicles parked on the street. Most residents agreed, however, that the commute is a major drawback of living in Dale City. "If you have to do it, you do it", said a former president of the Dale City Civic Association. "The commute has gone from bad to worse, he said." For 4 years he drove from Darbydale to Silver Spring (98 mile round-trip). Many commuters take advantage of the VRE or the OmniRide buses that frequent the park-and-rides, including at Potomac Mills Mall (opened in 1985). Others use the slug-line and take advantage of the HOV-3 lanes on I-95 and 395.[63]

Hylton passed away in 1989 at the age of 72. He was said to have constructed about 40,000 homes in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The estate he left behind was estimated to be worth over $211 million.[3]


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3. Smith, L., Virginia Teen is Hylton's Grandson, Entitled to Inheritance, Court Rules, in The Washington Post. 1998. p. 1.
4. N. Virginia Builders Give Merit Awards, in The Washington Post. 1967. p. E3.
5. Winners Named by Northern Virginia Builders, in The Washington Post. 1968. p. C4.
6. 15 Winners Selected In Builder's Contest, in The Washington Post. 1971. p. D1.
7. Neer, S., The Footprints of a Legacy, in Potomac News. 1997. p. 1.
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9. Virginia Department of Transportation, A History of Roads in Virginia: "The Most Convenient Wayes". 2006: Commonwealth of Virginia.
10. Prince William County Planning Department, Woodbridge Planning Area: Proposed Development Plan. 1967: Prince William Public Library System: The Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center for Genealogy and Local History (RELIC).
11. Scheel, E.M., Crossroads and corners : a guided tour of the villages, towns and post offices of Prince William County, Virginia past & present, ed. S. Robinette. 1996, Prince William, VA: Historic Prince William, Inc.
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49. U.S. Census Bureau. 2010 Census Summary File 1. Available from:
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