During the Revolutionary War, George Washington had a road constructed to be used by “baggage wagons” extending from Georgetown to Dumfries through what is now known as Montclair. Called “Dyers Road,” this road is located behind the Alexander Henderson Elementary School site.
In 1787 Alexander Henderson, a merchant and personal friend of George Washington, moved his family to Dumfries. The house in which the family lived still stands just behind the site of the County Court House in the town. Having opened other stores in Alexandria, Colchester, and Occoquan after the Dumfries store proved successful, Henderson has been called the “father of the American chain store.” * He served as Prince William County representative in the Virginia General Assembly in 1789-1790. Henderson’s fourth son, Archibald, served as Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1820-1859, a record 39 years. Alexander Henderson and his wife Sarah Moore Henderson, who died in 1815 and 1816, respectively, are buried in Montclair; their hilltop gravesite overlooks the Lake Montclair dam.
The Sixth North Carolina Regiment of the Confederate States of America set up a tent camp, christened “Camp Fisher,” in the “rolling hills” now known as Montclair on September 18,1861. Log huts to serve as winter quarters were built in December at Camp Fisher on Powell’s Run. During the winter concern of an imminent Federal attack escalated, and so the order was given to move south to a more protected position below the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg. The huts of Camp Fisher were burned as the Sixth North Carolina prepared to leave the site on March 8, 1862.
An earthen dam was built in 1964 to hold back the waters of Powell’s Creek to form Lake Montclair. The dam is 74 feet high and 650 feet long. The top of the dam is 206.5 feet above sea level. The lake was filled in 1965. The surface area of Lake Montclair is 108 acres at elevation 188 feet. The lake’s maximum depth is 50 feet. The volume of the lake is 499,000,000 gallons or about one-half billion gallons.
Montclair Joint Venture, a Virginia general partnership, developed Country Club Lake. Its activities began on December 31, 1968, under the concept of a private community with private streets and roads and with recreational facilities available to residents. Country Club Lake Property Owners Association was chartered on May 21, 1969. Mr. David P. Rhame served as first president of the association. Members (property owners) paid an annual assessment of $36 per lot.
The first annual meeting of the Country Club Lake Property Owners Association convened on March 2, 1971, in the Gar-Field High School auditorium, Woodbridge. The purposes of the meeting were to give the general membership an opportunity to meet future neighbors in the Country club Lake Community and to conduct the business of the association as outlined in the Notice of Meeting. One hundred thirty-one members attended.
Country Club Lake Property Owners Association sponsored a contest in November 1976 to re-name the quarterly community newsletter. The winning entry by Eileen Duke was “The Montclarion” which underwent a spelling change in 1989 to “The Montclairion,” to be consistent with the spelling of the community name.
Montclair, as we know it today, comprises 1620.84 acres.
Thomas E. Hockersmith Memorial Park on Northgate Drive was dedicated on May 18, 1978, in honor of Mr. Hockersmith who gave many hours to the Parks and Recreation Committee efforts.
The tradition of an annual Montclair Day celebration began as a means of celebrating the community’s existence. The first annual Montclair Day was held on August 4, 1979. A bicycle decorating contest and small parade preceded activities as Dolphin Beach included sack races, three-legged races, a sand-skiing race, and a watermelon-eating contest. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and beverages were available. A bluegrass band and a pop rock band, as well as clowns and a magician, provided entertainment.
At the 1981 annual meeting the membership voted to approve proposed amendments to the association’s documents and change the name from Country Club Lake Property Owners Association to Montclair Property Owners Association.
The first annual Oktoberfest was held on September 24, 1983. A volksmarch drew 74 entrants. In addition to traditional food and music, the main events were a costume contest and a yodeling contest. The Edelweiss Band was part of the first Oktoberfest and continues to provide entertainment at the annual event. Residents Gary and Marianne Weeter have played a role in the event each year since the event’s inception, now recruiting neighbors each year to man the funnel cake booth.
Over 600 community residents joined together April 20-24, 1988, to construct the creative wooden play area adjacent to the Property Owners Association administrative building. A “Name the Playground Contest” drew 179 entries; seven-year old Skip Smith’s entry “Kids’ Dominion” was chosen the winner.
In 1991 a contest was held to chose a slogan describing “what is best about Montclair and why it is a great place to live and raise families.” Diane Tolomeo’s slogan, “Montclair, where houses are homes and neighbors are friends!” was named winning entry.
*Brown, George, A History of Prince William County, Historic Prince William, Inc., 1994. p.33.