More Than 40 Years of Community Pride
Lord's civic resume reads like a local history book
When moving into a new community, residents face a decision about how involved they want to get in their new neighborhood. Forty-four years ago, Marlin Lord knew he wanted to be involved in his new community of Del Ray, and after many years on various committees and boards throughout Del Ray and Alexandria, Lord's dedication to his community is visible in countless projects around town.
Marlin Lord drove into town in 1966, just ahead of the big snowstorm that followed he and his family from their home state of Minnesota. The family parked in their driveway, tucked into their new home and couldn't leave for three days. Lord missed his first day of work at the architecture firm that brought the family to the Washington, D.C. area.
Once the snow cleared, however, Lord threw himself into his job and his community.
Lord chose Del Ray as his new neighborhood after driving around the area and picking up some ads for houses for rent. He interviewed the neighbors of one particular home on Hickory Street and decided to move in. Lord still lives in the home after buying it from his landlord, and the neighbors he interviewed are still there, too.
One of the aspects of the home that he liked was the fact that the elementary school that his three children would be attending was just down the street. As it turned out, Lord's first project was the first addition to Mount Vernon Community School.
"They had previously looked at building a wing off where the playground is," he remembers. "Over lunch hour, I said, 'This doesn't make any sense.' So I flipped the whole thing."
Lord liked the fact his children could see his work as they went through school. He also designed the sculpture that stood outside the school for more than 40 years, which he called "Everything Comes in Threes." The sculpture was removed to make room for the Duncan Library expansion, but there are plans to rebuild it nearby.
Lord has since had a hand in designing many businesses and homes around Del Ray and in Alexandria, including his current project—the expansion of Los Tios.
Beyond his trade, Marlin Lord has been an active part of the Del Ray community since his first day.
"In Minneapolis, I was active in the neighborhood association, and when I came here, I still felt that the community was very similar—the work was close by and the neighborhood was unique, so I joined the citizens association," he recalls.
Lord spent some time as president of the citizens association, but became heavily involved in various committees and commissions in the City of Alexandria. He spent 20 years on the Parks and Recreation Commission and participated in updating the city's Master Plan, which was called the '74 Plan, while on the Planning Advisory Committee.
He recalls his first introduction to City Council. An individual wanted to build a new gas station at the corner of Mt. Vernon Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue, and Lord was chosen to represent the citizen's association's objections.
He recalls stammering and stumbling until Nicholas Colasanto pointed at him and said, "Son, are you for it or against it?" When Lord responded that they were against it, City Council voted to buy the property and turn it into a park. That park is now named Nicholas Colasanto Park.
Lord's stories of his involvement in what have proven to be historic or monumental projects in Alexandria could fill a book.
He enlisted and worked with an urban planner who identified the Torpedo Factory as having extraordinary potential lying dormant. He was involved with Del Ray Artisans from its inception and helped reclaim the Avenue. He helped design the new bridge that straightened Jefferson Davis Highway and has allowed for the expansion of Simpson Field.
Lord's civic resume is impressive to say the least, but his stories behind each of his projects and activities reveal how much he cares about his neighborhood and city.