Many first owners of Amberwoods homes know Marlene Baugh and her husband. The Baugh family has lived in four homes in all three Holly Knoll developments and worked closely with Warren Halle of Halle Enterprises as he built all three. Many residents of Amberwoods enjoyed the friendship of our neighbors the Baugh family when they resided in a lovely home at Hollyview Drive & Holly Briar. Marlene’s personal notes are far better presented in her own words, and she graciously allows presentation of her first-hand ‘history’ linked to Halle Enterprises’ eventual development of Amberwoods.
The Baugh family purchased one of the first homes sold in Holly Knoll I — a relatively small, one-car garage inventory home that was directly across the street from the model home. Marlene described her husband’s career transfer from Annapolis and their moving in only 3+ days after writing the offer! The Halle Sales Manager was someone she knew from school, and she was invited to help as a hostess for the developing neighborhood. Marlene went to night school to get her real estate license, and eventually the family moved to a larger home in Holly Knoll II.
“When our family lived on Cup Leaf Holly Court in Holly Knoll I and wanted to put in a pool, the land was part of the Historic District and needed approval from the County and the Historical Society.” (It is not believed that our Amberwoods property was designated as a Historic District, although historic records describe that Union troops on the hill at NE corner of Georgetown Pike/Route 7 targeted Confederate troops in the lowland just east of the Dranesville Methodist Church and carillon.)
“Warren Halle was not beloved by the people living in Holly Knoll I, and one day he announced that there was to be a “big” meeting to discuss his possible purchase of land to become Holly Knoll II. None of us had any idea that he was negotiating land deals or decided to expand our subdivision. The owners in Holly Knoll I were really angry at the meeting and totally against additional land purchases. It was almost comical in that he had all this food brought in and thought, I guess, that this meeting would be a win-win for all of the residents and the builder. He was going to build a pool for the owners of Holly Knoll I and Holly Knoll II and a club house and maybe tennis courts. My friends, my husband and I were excited. However, 90% of the people were mad. They did not want more development and did not care about the pool but worried totally that the pond in Holly Knoll I would be compromised by 200+ new homes in the next section.
“Halle built Holly Knoll II on property sold to him by the Hand family. Mrs. Hand was friendly with most of us who backed to her estate home. She would take several of us to see the garage and her husband’s unbelievable car that had been restored.” (Hearsay of slave quarters in the home is quite believable when we realize the Hand home ‘Holly Knoll estate’ was visited by General Stonewall Jackson while his Confederate troops camped in Dranesville)
“Mr. Halle once again invited all the owners in Holly Knoll II to a meeting (without any food this time. I guess he learned from the first experience.) to announce that he had purchased the land for Holly Knoll III – Amberwoods. He once again wanted to install a pool, tennis courts, a club house and ball fields. In exchange he wanted an easement from the Holly Knoll II entrance into Holly Knoll III because the County had just approved his subdivision subject to not having an additional entrance off of Rt. 7.
“The entire community was absolutely thrilled. It was difficult however, because according to the rules of the HOA they had to have something like 90% of the homeowners agreeing to this easement, etc. A portion of the homes were rented, so it was necessary to send out absentee ballots to all of the owners and the big meeting was to take place during the week. The President of the HOA told Halle that he felt we had the votes but he would get back to him when the meeting had been completed.
“Warren Halle (nickname Cookie) just took this as a go and sent in the bulldozers to start taking down the trees and making way for the road to be named Hollyview Drive that would go from Holly Knoll II to Holly Knoll III (Amberwoods). The President and Board of the HOA were furious and got into a heated discussion on the phone about how could Cookie do this when the plans were not firm. They ended the conversation by the president saying, ‘Get your bulldozers off our land and stop taking down our trees.’
“The builder was furious and basically told him where to go, and they parted ways. I was called by both of these men to try to tell me how terrible the other side was, and I tried to get them back talking to fix this situation. To the president, I told him that everyone in the subdivision would be so disappointed; and he needed to allow me to set up a meeting with the two of them. To the builder, I told him what my contacts at the County told me — that he could sue them for an exit onto Rt. 7 but they would tie up the subdivision approval for a year and make it very difficult for him. He told me his attorneys told him I was wrong. I had tried to encourage him also to come back to the table.
“I had worked for Halle for a year and then joined Long and Foster as a residential agent in 1979 before I moved into my house in Holly Knoll II, but he still respected my opinion and knew I would tell him the truth. I had sold the president of the HOA his house in Holly Knoll and sold his previous home and tried in vain to get these two individuals back to the table, without success.
“At the time of this fight, I had already written contracts for two homes on Redberry in Amberwoods and they were signed by Halle so he had to build the houses, but Halle now did not have County approval. Others had written contracts also on Redberry so I told him if it takes you a year to secure permits on these homes, you have contracts which will personally cost you a lot of money and time. Again, he trusted his attorneys to give him the right answers and was still furious with the HOA president in Holly Knoll II.
“A year and three lawsuits later, Halle called to say, ‘OK, you were right about the County dragging this out so what do you think I should do?’ I said you need to go in and give them something back so they can say they got something in return and it is not setting a precedent allowing this new exit onto Rt. 7. So he agreed to build a “pond” on Redberry. If you are wondering where the pond is, look to the left when you enter the community just before the first house on the left, there is a ditch that was Halle’s answer to the pond he agreed to build.
(More information about the Route 7 entrance was revealed in discussion with Walter Harrison of Dranesville Auto….to be posted on this website soon.)
“He got his entrance into Amberwoods. He tried everything with the year and a half delays to start the homes on Redberry to get rid of the ratified contracts because he had lost so much money and the market was heating up, but the owners knew they had a deal and all waited despite the two-year delay to move into their new homes. He had built the tennis courts for Holly Knoll II and ball fields, and eventually the HOA built the park. Even today (2016) Amberwoods has to pay an annual fee to use the courts, etc. Holly Knoll I had only allowed Holly Knoll II to use their pond on a year-by-year basis if they could use the tennis courts, but then when Algonquin Parkway was approved, the Holly Knoll I group kept the pond for their own use.
“Eighteen years ago Jerry Weismann, Kim Heisman on Hollyview Drive and I met with the area supervisor with a plan to put in a traffic light (had gone to them three times with that request) but Jerry and I came up with a plan to have one more lane from Rt. 193 to the parkway allowing the owners in Holly Knoll III safe access out and also allowing Woody’s Range to have safe exit out. A lot of hours and time were involved and finally they came back and said when Rt. 7 was widened, they would enact our plan. As of 2016 the plan is finally a reality.
“Before Amberwoods was in the cards, Holly Knoll I and II fought everyone to stop the extension of Holly Knoll Drive to a four lane highway that separated both sections. Great Falls Citizens Association. fought with us until on a last approach for approval, VDOT or the County said if it was not approved by Great Falls, then they would allow access through several of the Great Falls Roads to Seneca Road. It was at that point that GFCA threw Holly Knoll under the bus and stood against us on the other side. For their efforts, they were rewarded by allowing no access from the new parkway through the Great Falls roads.
“So funny because a lot of the residents of GFCA on Seneca said they were in the real Great Falls and we were called Herndon originally. I laughed because Seneca Road was also called Herndon when we moved to the area. That was because just like Dranesville Auto (it is still called Herndon) Seneca was served by the Herndon Post Office for a rural route. As soon as Holly Knoll I and II and III opened their roads and they were dedicated, they were then served by the Great Falls Post Office and therefore identified as Great Falls, Va.
“We decided to build a new home in Amberwoods which made our fourth home in Holly Knoll. We loved the development and the people and loved raising our children there. Today, many years later, our very best friends like the Granthams and Jacksons still live in Amberwoods, while others like the Weissmans, Anglim, All, Lucien, O’Conner, Foreso, Collis families over time followed us to Leesburg. Our children are all grown and have children now and yet the families still get together, and our children have all remained close friends throughout all of these years.
All of us have so enjoyed living in Holly Knoll and have wonderful memories of our friendships and experiences (as cub scout leader in my case and coaches for the children’s teams in the other father’s cases) and being a part of the Great Falls larger community and the wonderful memories of Holly Knoll I, II, III-Amberwoods.
“Mr. Halle and Halle Enterprises went on to building Virginia Run and another area in Fairfax near Lorton and finally Kingstown. His company headquarters is in Silver Spring/Wheaton Maryland. He apparently started working originally for his brother Stanley Halle as a bulldozer operator, I was told; and I believe his brother was the Stanley of Stanley Martin but later sold his interest in that company.”