Penrose is a historic neighborhood with deep roots that nonetheless feels like a sparkling up-and-comer. Located just three miles from D.C., and between Columbia Pike and Route 50, the community has a main line to all the amenities in Clarendon to the north, at the same time benefiting from the ongoing revitalization of Columbia Pike along its southern border.
Much of Penrose’s appeal comes by way of its diversity. That includes its population—the 2010 Census showed that nearly 65 percent of residents along Columbia Pike are nonwhite—and its housing types, which include condos, apartment buildings, townhouses, and single-family homes. The decidedly non-homogeneous nature of its housing stock makes it more affordable than many other Arlington locales.
Penrose is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Once known as the Butler Holmes subdivision, the neighborhood became an important area for African-Americans after the dissolution of nearby Freedman’s Village, which existed on the grounds of Arlington Cemetery until the turn of the 20th century. The 1910 home of Dr. Charles Drew, an African-American pioneer in the field of plasma transfusion research, can still be seen on South First Street.
In 1995, citizens led the charge to change the neighborhood’s name to Penrose, a moniker referencing a stop along the early-20th-century trolley line that once ran through the area. A trolley car remains the neighborhood symbol, which is fitting as the county makes plans for a new streetcar line on Columbia Pike.
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