Georgetown Pike, Virginia’s first historic and scenic byway, is also the main street of Great Falls.
Its horse pastures and quaint farmhouses preserve a nostalgic image of a 1940s agricultural community once called Forestville, and the picturesque rail fences along the Pike help calm the rush-hour stress for the commuters who pour through Great Falls every day.
But the homeowners who maintain them expend relentless effort, working an endless “To Do List” and facing the hassles of living on a heavily traveled, two lane highway.
Don and Billie McCoy have lived at Stonegate Farm, a 7.5 acre property with a white rail fence and stone farmhouse, since 1976.
One night last November, McCoy says, “At 2 a.m. the doorbell rang, and there was a policeman. out front. I put my bathrobe on and I was out there until 6 a.m.
“A kid [driving by] who was late, after curfew; killed a deer and crashed through the fence and the stone gate,” adding another six or eight jobs to McCoy’s voluminous “to do” list.
McCoy, 77, pays a helper for about three or four hours of work a week. “The rest of it, I do myself,” he said.
That includes maintenance of the picturesque white board fence: scraping it and painting, by hand, when it needs it.
McCoy also maintains a bird sanctuary, an open field where he displays antique farm implements such as an old plow, a wagon wheeler, and a push mower. This month, he has placed a memorial day display there: a white cross and patriotic ribbon and bow.
Why? “It’s very simple. I didn’t want to mow the [blank] place,” McCoy said. “I mow all across the front, and the rest of it is au naturale.”
Every year, McCoy, an inveterate list-maker, writes a bulleted account of things he’s done.
When he has time to make the list, McCoy says, “It shows that I am really getting to the bottom of my To Do List.”
That list of 29 “Things To Do” is an awesome summation, single-spaced on two pages, that would intimidate many of those who say they can’t afford to buy a house in Fairfax County.
And that’s just for the grounds. The list for the house has another nine things.
Here are just a few of the jobs that McCoy, who just recovered from surgery, has completed this spring. He got some help on a few of them.
• Scraped and painted lots of fencing, 40 percent of the total; replaced posts and boards.
• Put repeated coats of white paint on the new section of fencing in front of the big field; scene of last fall’s accident.
• Coated the entire barn roof with asphalt sealer.
• Cleared vines and forsythia from the box elder in front yard.
• Removed extensive growth of vines along the goats’ pen.
• Replaced seven sections of fencing and painted it, due to last November’s car accident that killed a deer.
McCoy said he classifies six different types of homeowners, characterizing himself as number 5:
“I have a distinct pride of ownership. I want my stuff to look really great,” he said.
“This whole thing of the seasonal display [the Memorial Day display] is kind of a whimsical thing to make people smile as they trail garbage trucks or school buses in traffic.
“People glance over there, and every once in a while, I see someone with a smile, who gives me a thumbs up,” McCoy said.
“I hear a lot of people say Great Falls has gone downhill because of all the McMansions, but as far as I am concerned, it’s God’s place on earth,” McCoy said.