Arlington County Board Designates Green Valley Pharmacy a Historic District

(CORRECTED 02/01/13 to add Board vote.)

  • Board honors African American history in Arlington
  • Acknowledges contributions of Dr. Leonard Muse
  • Designation protects Nauck business that opened in 1952

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today designated the Green Valley Pharmacy, in the Nauck neighborhood, as the 33rd Arlington Historic District.

Green Valley Pharmacy is the County's longest continuously operating African American-owned pharmacy. Its owner, Dr. Leonard Muse, opened the pharmacy in 1952 to serve African Americans, who during that time of racial segregation were not served by the County's white-owned pharmacies.

“Green Valley Pharmacy is both a living reminder of Arlington's painful history of racial segregation and a testimony to the triumph of the spirit and the indomitable will of one man, Dr. Leonard Muse, who created not only a business but a community gathering place for Arlington's African American residents,” said Arlington County Board Chair J. Walter Tejada. “Both the Green Valley Pharmacy, and Dr. Muse, are Arlington treasures. Dr. Muse's legacy should be preserved so that future generations never forget how far we have come.”

The designation recognizes both the historical and cultural significance of the site and honors Muse's lifetime of contributions to his community. The board voted 5-0 to designate the pharmacy historic.

About Green Valley Pharmacy
Green Valley Pharmacy is a simply designed one-story building, with minimal architectural accents, located at 2415 Shirlington Road at 24th Road South. Built in 1942 as a grocery store by the Hyman family, the building is within central Nauck, a community dating back to the mid-19th century that is rich in African American history.

Dr. Muse opened the pharmacy at a time when Arlington was racially segregated. It became a successful business that served the greater Nauck area along with other service-oriented African American-owned businesses such as Naomi's TV, Chinn's Funeral Home, and the Friendly Cab Company. These businesses provided much-needed services to the local African American community and continue to thrive today.

“It is an honor to leave my legacy, which has contributed to the cultural development of Arlington's African American community,” said Dr. Leonard Muse. “I am proud to have been such a positive force in the growth of diversity in Arlington.”

In the early 1950s, Muse and his initial business partner and former Howard University classmate, Waverly Jones, realized that there was a critical need for a pharmacy in Arlington since no existing pharmacy in the County would serve African Americans. Muse and Jones opened the pharmacy in September 1952. Muse became the sole proprietor in 1955.

Still serving customers
Muse's business remains one of the largest stores in Nauck, serving customers of all races and ages. He still offers affordable prices, door-to-door prescription delivery service, and daily meals at the dine-in food counter. The friendly atmosphere and camaraderie make the Green Valley Pharmacy both a popular and cherished symbol of Nauck's history and a favorite community gathering spot.

The Green Valley Pharmacy is the first historically African American commercial building to be honored as an Arlington Historic District. It is also the second local historic district to be created within the past year; Calloway Cemetery became a designated historic site in March 2012. Both sites provide important links to the cultural and historical contributions of Arlington's African American heritage.

About the Historic Preservation Program
The County's Historic Preservation Program helps identify, preserve, and protect Arlington's historic resources. Working with the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB), program staff researches and recommends sites for historic designation, surveys buildings and neighborhoods, and promotes preservation efforts and Arlington's heritage throughout the community.

Learn more about Arlington County's Historic Preservation efforts.

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.