Education | Power of a Name
It became official in June: The former Sydney Lanier Middle School in Fairfax City was rechristened Katherine Johnson Middle School—now commemorating a Black NASA scientist instead of a poet who served as a Confederate soldier.
Following the school board’s decision last September to change the name, more than 300 suggestions poured in. In November, the board chose Johnson (who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures). The renaming ceremony took place June 4, with Johnson’s family in attendance.
Fun | Music in the Streets
There are lots of opportunities to hear live music this summer in downtown Fairfax’s Old Town Square (10415 North St.). On the fourth Friday of the month through October, live performers, plus food vendors and a beer garden, take over starting at 6:30. Every third Sunday, also through October, acoustic acts set up for outdoor diners at the square’s restaurants.
Culture | Writing on the Walls
Historic Blenheim, a Civil War–era farmhouse, has long fascinated researchers thanks to its walls covered in graffiti left by Union soldiers. But until recently, thousands more scrawlings were concealed behind layers of paint and wallpaper. Enter Mike Toth, an Oakton specialist in multispectral imaging, the use of high-tech cameras to capture images hidden to the naked eye. Toth is in the midst of a project, funded by a National Park Service grant, to uncover the graffiti, and thus much more of the house’s history.
Historic Blenheim (3610 Old Lee Hwy.) is currently closed to the public.
Retail | Clothes and Coladas
The first-ever “Bloomie’s”—a small-format version of Bloomingdale’s—is slated to open at the Mosaic district (2905 District Ave.) in August. With the decline of traditional malls and department stores, the new concept promises to be “highly edited” and “service-driven,” according to Women’s Wear Daily.
It will have something else going for it, too: an outpost of the local mini-chain Colada Shop inside the store. The restaurant has applied for a liquor license, according to Eater, meaning customers should be able to sip mojitos and piña coladas while they shop.
Retail | More at Mosaic
The Mosaic district has a number of other recent and coming-soon additions. Among them: Gyu Shige Japanese barbecue, Urbano Mexican restaurant, Our Mom Eugenia Greek food, Framebridge, and Poffy (which makes sweets without major allergens). Two more eateries, the Italian Place and Urban Hot Pot, are also coming this summer.
Dining | Coming Right Up
The former Fairfax Surf Shop—a hub for local skateboarders housed in a 1920s building by Old Town Square—has been demolished, and a restaurant will replace it. Draper’s, an upscale American-style eatery from the Parry Restaurant Group—which operates a number of spots in other parts of Virginia—is slated to open by this fall. It promises plenty of outdoor seating overlooking Fairfax’s historic downtown.
Culture | History Lesson
An exhibit from the Virginia Museum of History & Culture will stop at the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center (10209 Main St.) until August 30. “Determined: The 400-Year Struggle for Black Equality” explores the African American experience in Virginia through profiles of key individuals, evocative objects, and multimedia displays.
Streetscape | On Point
The former Fairfax Shopping Center (10342–10412 Fairfax Blvd.) has undergone a transformation into Point 50, a retail development that will be anchored by an Amazon Fresh grocery store. Other tenants include Orangetheory Fitness, Compass Coffee, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, and Organic Nails.
Retail | New Brew
The city of Fairfax got its first coffee roaster last fall, with the opening of Foundation Coffee (9650 Main St., #46) in an old warehouse behind Fair City Mall. The modern-industrial space roasts small batches of beans from locales such as Ethiopia and Colombia and features a full-service coffee bar. Owner Hae Kim told WTOP that opening delays due to Covid allowed him to put more thought into the interior, which his contractor dad helped build.
Dining | More New Brew
The Virginia chain Capital Ale House opened last year in Old Town Fairfax, inside the early-20th-century mansion (4069 Chain Bridge Rd.) that Hard Times Cafe once occupied. The restaurant has two big bars and four dining rooms, serving 100 beers on tap plus cocktails and an extensive bar-food menu.
Retail | Scout It Out
The mixed-use development Scout on the Circle (9450 Fairfax Blvd.) is getting two additional retail tenants soon: a location of the fitness boutique F45, which combines circuit and HIIT-style workouts, and the bubble-tea lounge TeaDM. The development, which opened last year, includes 400 apartments and a Giant supermarket.
Streetscape | School’s Out
Paul VI Catholic High School decamped from its Fairfax building in May 2020 for a new campus in Loudoun County. Now its former Fairfax digs are becoming a mixed-use community. Developer IDI plans to preserve the original 1930s high-school building and repurpose it as retail and restaurants, according to the Washington Business Journal. The rest of the 18.5-acre campus will include 144 condos, 115 townhouses (built by a different developer, NV Homes), nearly a mile of walking trails, a central green space called “the Lawn,” and two new retail buildings.
Fun | Disco Summer
Just for the season, Mosaic Skateland is operating at the Mosaic district (between Strawberry Park and District Ave.). Skaters can take a spin around the disco-throwback outdoor rink until September 12. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for kids, including roller-skate rental.