Magazine says Manassas is one of best metro cities

MANASSAS — As he walked down Center Street more than a month ago, Roger Snyder, the city’s community development director, had trouble figuring out why a person would be standing in the middle of the ice in her tennis shoes.

“And I had the audacity to walk up and ask her what she was doing,” he said.

The woman, it turned out, was a photographer from The Washingtonian magazine. And her picture of a skater at the Loy E. Harris Pavilion on West Street can be seen as part of a larger package touting Manassas as one of the “Best Places to Live” in the magazine’s April issue.

“This kind of publicity is the kind we couldn’t afford to buy,” Snyder said.

Ray Willis, president of the Old Town Business Association, agrees.

“If the mayor and Tricia Davis (from Historic Manassas Inc.) had sat down and written the story themselves, it couldn’t have been better,” said Willis, who owns RW Books on Center Street.

Along with other communities, such as Brookland in northwest Washington, D.C., Old Town Manassas was listed as an ideal place for workers in the Washington area to find a home.

“Homeowners lucky enough to live in one of the Victorian or Colonial-style houses in the heart of the city can walk to a variety of community activities, from wintertime ice skating at the new Pavilion to Friday-night sampling of Virginia wines,” the article says.

The article tells the story of a city with a downtown that faded in the 1980s and early 1990s, only to find new life in the past few years.

Wayne Orndorff, co-owner of Java Jack’s on Center Street, was surprised Sunday when his son Kevin, who lives in North Arlington, called him up to tell him that his business was mentioned in “The Washingtonian” as one of the better night spots in Manassas.

But Orndorff was in for a shocker when he saw that the house he had originally occupied in the city, at 9717 West. St., was featured in the article. The house was worth about $60,000 when he purchased it in 1980. The article listed the house, now expanded, as worth $330,000.

“It’s just ironic how things work out,” Orndorff said.

Orndorff said the beauty of Manassas is that it’s sort of in the country. But it isn’t.

“Manassas is a small town with a big-city mentality,” he said.

Mayor Marvin L. Gillum echoed a similar sentiment.

“It’s small enough that people know each other. But it’s large enough that we have the amenities of a city,” he said.

Manassas, Gillum said, has changed much since the days he lived as a boy on Church Street.

“When I was a kid, this was a sleepy little town, with a population made up mostly of dairy farmers,” he said.

Today, workers in Washington call Manassas their home.

“People used to think this wasn’t a town to commute from. It was kind of out in the sticks. Now, the sticks have been pushed farther to the west,” Willis said.

This isn’t the first time Old Town Manassas has been featured in a national publication. The magazine Southern Living published a piece on the community in December. The New York Times ran a story about Old Town Manassas on Nov. 5, 2000.

Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703)368-3101.

Similar Posts