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The Society was founded in 1885 as the Village Improvement Society of Falls Church, as one of hundreds of such societies around the country. It was modeled after the famous Laurel Hill Association of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Its object was to improve and ornament the streets of Falls Church, Virginia, by planting and cultivating trees, cleaning and repairing the sidewalks, and carrying out other acts to beautify and benefit the culture and prosperity of the village. The Society helped start the first library in Falls Church, and initiated the first Arbor Day in Virginia (1892).
The Society was renamed in 1923 as the Falls Church Citizens Association and, after a few decades of non-activity, it was reestablished in 1965 as the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society. It is dedicated to the following goals as stated in its By-Laws:
1. To preserve the historic and predominantly single family residential character of the City of Falls Church.
2. To preserve the historic structures and landmarks of the City of Falls Church.
3. To promote community appreciation of this historic significance and to encourage construction and renovation of residences and commercial buildings in architectural harmony with this background, in order to give the City of Falls Church a unique and distinctive style.
4. To encourage the planned and continuous beautification of the community in its public, residential, commercial and industrial areas through appropriate planting, preservation and maintenance of trees, shrubbery and flowers.
5. To promote the development of aesthetic values and cultural activities which will contribute to making the City of Falls Church an interesting, unique and stimulating community in which to live.
6. To work with governmental bodies and community groups to encourage them in measures conducive to the fulfillment of the above purposes.
In 1992, the Board of Directors resolved to provide objectives in three categories as a method for assigning and evaluating its mission-fulfilling actions:
DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
* To encourage a vibrant, attractive and sustainable community;
* To participate in the City's long-term planning process;
* To pursue the preservation of the City's historic resources.
* To enrich the lives of citizens through cultural activities that transmit the heritage of the region from one generation to the next.
* To identify the natural resources of the City
* To preserve those resources of merit;
* To help restore those resources that have deteriorated;
* To help educate the public in the issues affecting these resources.
Among other historical documents, the two below summarize the history of the VPIS from its reorganization in 1965 through the nation's bicentennial in 1976:
(1) "The Fire of Civic Zeal," written by President Elwood Street, and (2) "Greetings to the citizens of Falls Church in the year 2076 from the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society."
Remarkably, both documents express concern by the then VPIS board about proposals to raise building height limits and densities. It seems that the controversial Mixed Use Redevelopment (MUR) ordinance of today is simply the Planned Use Development (PUD) ordinance of yesterday.