Reston @ 50: Recreation, Arts, and Cultural Activities
A critical component of Robert Simon’s vision for Reston was quality of life for its residents. Indeed, Reston’s recreational and cultural amenities would include “city” and “country” activities, and both outdoor and indoor cultural facilities. Reston’s unique zoning classification and master plan mandated that nearly one-ninth of Reston’s total land be preserved as open space, setting aside acreage for nature-related outdoor activities. Reston’s dedicated citizenry joined Robert Simon in insisting upon creating key cultural outlets in Reston very early on.
Early on, Reston had much to offer in terms of recreational opportunities. Its North Golf Course, designed by Edmund B. Ault and constructed on 200 acres just south of Lake Anne, opened during the summer of 1964. Five years later Reston’s second course, also an Ault design, opened in Reston’s south side. Four lakes offered boating, swimming, fishing, and skating in the winter. A series of trails with pedestrian overpasses for negotiating Reston’s streets secured safe passage for walking, running, and biking. Hunters Woods Village originally had horse trails and a stable with accommodations for up to forty horses. Neighborhood pools, playgrounds, and athletic fields were all part of everyday life in Reston.
Simon hoped that Reston would attract those who enjoyed cultural activities such as art, theater, and music. The Reston Music Center was established by the Reston Foundation for Community Programs in 1967. Its objectives were to develop the talents of young musicians and to give them the opportunity to present musical performances for Reston and Northern Virginia residents. The program, which operated until the mid- 1970s held yearly summer camps for students of music and presented concerts throughout Northern Virginia. In 1972, the group travelled to and performed in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Reston residents themselves started the Reston Players theater group in 1966, and have staged theatrical and musical productions continuously since then. The Players first production, an original play entitled The Greatest Game in Town, was presented in mid-July 1966 in the Riding Center. The Reston Chorale, which formed in 1967, is another volunteer group, featuring amateur and professional singers from Reston. They perform year-round in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Reston’s first art gallery, the Heron House Gallery, was built into the Heron House apartment tower in Lake Anne Village in February of 1966. Seven years later, the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) was founded with the objective of promoting the visual arts and fostering cultural enrichment in Reston. GRACE currently maintains its facility in the Reston Town Center.