Lansdowne somehow keeps getting larger. The property at the Eastern end of Lansdowne is known as Janelia Farm. The 289 acres was once owned by a prominent citizen of Loudoun County, Mrs. Venton Pickens. Now it and some additional acreage is the home of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HMI); Janelia Farm Campus. According to Wikipedia, Vinton and Robert Pickens bought the property in 1934 and built a house in 1936. He was a reporter with Associated Press and they were living in Switzerland at the time.
Mrs. Pickens countywide fame resulted from her founding the Planning Commission in 1941. She was an artist and was instrumental in promoting the highway signage ordinance—no billboards—that exist today. She worked on that issue with Russell Baker’s uncle who chaired the Board of Supervisors, “He was my father’s older brother.” Says Baker.
Mrs. Pickens in 1944 also started what was then known as ‘Hot Sketchers’ now The Loudoun Sketch Club that features local artists and their work.
In keeping with the Preservation and Scenic Easement, HMI maintains the Pickens home and has observed the stipulation that there should be no blocking the view of Sugarloaf Mountain.
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