Arlington's Centennial: A Look at the County's Oldest Businesses

One hundred years ago this month, the Virginia General Assembly first considered the bill that would change our community from Alexandria County to the Arlington name it holds today, originally named in honor of both Arlington National Cemetery and Arlington House. At the time, there were just a little more than 16,000 residents, and much of the business community consisted of small crop and dairy farms. Obviously, the business community has changed quite a bit, but there are a few Arlington businesses that have been around since the very beginning – if not before. Throughout this centennial year, we’ll take a look at some of Arlington’s long-standing businesses.

Started in 1908, B.M. Smith is Arlington’s oldest continuously operating business and brings more than a century of experience in building, management and service of residential and commercial properties. Located along Columbia Pike, founder Benjamin Matthew Smith served as an early member of the Arlington County Board, as a member of the Arlington Hospital Board of Directors and an Arlington County School Supervisor. The business grew through the middle of the 1900s and by the turn of the century managed 29 commercial properties in South Arlington and the greater Northern Virginia region.

Today, B.M. Smith & Associates continues its longstanding commitment to the Arlington community while also investing in land and properties throughout Northern Virginia and locations across the United States. The company continues to participate in local organizations, including Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, support of Penrose Park community events, and participation in the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

Family-owned Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington was established in 1917 in the tradition of the garden cemetery. Its stated intent was “to make a place that will be attractive as a park and a credit to the county.” The cemetery was originally created by the Alexandria Park Association under the supervision of Colonel Robert Dye, superintendent of the Arlington National Cemetery. One of the founders was Judge Harry Randolph Thomas, who served in the roles of trustee and caretaker. The Thomas family has been responsible for the cemetery since it opened in 1917 and remains so to this day, currently managed by the great-granddaughter of the original founder. A multicultural and non-demoninational cemetery, Columbia Gardens has been described as Arlington County’s community cemetery.

Is your business commemorating Arlington’s 100th in any special way? If so, let us know.

Topic: Economic Update
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