Category Archives: VA Character

The Perfect Day for Not Working Real Estate!


I’m watching Baseball – the little guys – instead of working real estate during what is usually my most productive time of day. My ten-year-old has a late game on a Monday afternoon at Byrd Park Little League in Richmond, Virginia. The weather is perfect; there’s no humidity, a gentle breeze, plenty of soft sunshine, and the smell of fresh cut grass is in the air. It is a delightful spring afternoon on the cusp of summer. The pool is open, and school is just letting out for the year. We only have one of two more games before it ends and we’ll be off to do something else.


The kids are young, and just as uncoordinated and care-free as I was back then. They would rather pick at the grass and make dust clouds than pay attention to the game. They have no idea what’s ahead for them, they are simply living life in the moment.


How great is that! I can’t help but ask myself the question, “how often does this happen in my life today?” I am thankful for the moment of peaceful reflection and wish there were more opportunities to be in the moment, just like this one is for me.


I’m watching baseball, wishing I were ten years old again, even if only for the afternoon.



Source: John VanderSyde is an Associate Broker with Virginia Properties, A Long & Foster Company, and is also a Licensed Architect. You can learn more about John and Ann VanderSyde by visiting

Saturday is “Flag Day”; Celebrate by Flying a Flag!

History of Flag Day

Flag Day is June 14
History of Flag Day

June 214 Flad Day banner

Flag Day is a celebration of the adoption of the American flag by Continental Congress in the First Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777. Although the 200-year anniversary of this date was celebrated by flying flags on public buildings and holding remembrances in several cities, Flag Day wasn’t officially recognized until President Harry Truman signed it into law in 1949.

After much persistence and the support of many individuals, organizations, mayors, governors and five presidents, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation requesting that June 14 become National Flag Day. In 1927 President Coolidge issued a second proclamation, and finally in 1949 Congress approved it and it became a law.

Soon after Flag Day became official, another law passed requiring the state superintendent of public schools to make sure patriotic holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day, Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s Birthday are observed in schools.

How to Observe Flag Day

The week of June 14 is designated as “National Flag Week.” During National Flag Week, the president will issue a proclamation urging U.S. citizens to fly the American flag for the duration of that week. The flag should also be displayed on all Government buildings. Some organizations hold parades and events in celebration of our national flag and everything it represents. It’s also a time to remember and honor military men and women who defend our flag and our country.

The National Flag Day Foundation holds an annual observance for Flag Day on the second Sunday in June. The program includes a ceremonial raising of the flag, recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the National Anthem, a parade and more. The ceremony will take place on June 10, 2007, in Waubeka, WI, the birthplace of Flag Day (according to Cigrand).

Contact a local veteran’s organization or your city council to see if any Flag Day events are taking place in your area.


Happy Flag-Flying!


What is it That Makes the House a HOME?

Do pedals and the smell of flowering blossoms nestled closely to a stable foundation in springtime make the house a home?

Is it the color one picks inside and out to express their personal lifestyle during summer’s height the thing that makes a house a home?

Perhaps it is the freshly refinished hardwood floor, carpets, furniture, lighting, or all the little knick knacks one acquires in autumn that determines a home?

Or could it be the warmth from a winter’s hearth which breathes life into a house during special moments at the fireside that defines a home?

Surely it must be the sound of once echoing voices, the patter of little feet and paws, or the love given and received under the security of a dry roof that creates the home?

Ultimately, we borrow the things that make a house a home to which we once belonged; and if we are fortunate, the HOME willingly passes these cozy little spirits on from one family to the next, even if it was never intended.

That’s what makes the house a HOME!

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By:   John VanderSyde    5/8/13

The “Roslyn Hills” Neighborhood – Along the River Road Corridor

The “Home” section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Doug Childers, have been writing articles spotlighting various Richmond, Virginia neighborhood locations, and they will be featuring “Roslyn Hills” in February 2013. Doug was kind to ask if I would provide some insight into this area of Henrico County.

I love history and many of the neighborhoods in and around Richmond offer interesting insights into past generations. I offered the following information in response to his questions.

1)      Could you provide a brief description of Roslyn Hills? 

Roslyn Hills is located east of Parham along the River Road corridor. It is one of a number of finger-neighborhoods along this stretch of road. It is flanked to the west by “Countryside” and to the east by “Glenbrooke Hills”. A series of small creeks and ponds traverse the middle of the neighborhood and offer a delightful amenity for residents.

2)      What are the neighborhood’s boundaries? 

One may enter the neighborhood off River Rd from Charnwood to the west, Roslyn Hills Drive up the center, and Twin Lake to the east; the neighborhood dead ends into September Drive to the north. Side streets intermingle with the adjacent neighborhoods, but primary access is from River Road.

3)      Where does the name come from? 

I’m Not exactly sure from where the name “Roslyn Hills” comes. I can tell you the Episcopalian Diocesan Retreat Center is located directly across River Road from this neighborhood, and is called “Roslyn”. It seems logical to me that the neighborhood may have derived its name from this retreat. Research indicates the Retreat may have been established around 1935; from what I can see from the tax records, the actual neighborhood didn’t begin to be developed until 1953.

The Roslyn retreat’s web site provides a good history of the land donated to the church: “Roslyn, A Retreat Center of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia since 1934, is located on 150 scenic acres in Henrico County, Virginia, two miles west of the City of Richmond on the James River.”  See more history at

4)      When did construction begin there? 

Construction in Roslyn Hills “proper” began in approximately 1952-53. Two homes were completed by 1953, and another 14 by 1954. Adjacent neighborhoods, although linked by cross-streets, may have been started prior to this date.

5)      When did the majority of the homes get built? 

The majority of homes seem to have been completed during the 1950’s, when approximately 103 houses were finished. The boom year for Roslyn Hills appears to have been in 1957, when roughly 22 homes were completed. The 1960’s yielded less than half that number, with about 46 homes being built. The remainder of homes have been built since then, but tax records indicate the last two new construction homes built in Roslyn Hills were in 1990. I can tell you that the adjacent neighborhoods such as Countryside still have lots for sale and continue to build new homes today.  

6)      Did one developer work on it or was it  developed over a period of time by different builders and developers? 

It appears that different builders built in this neighborhood. It does not appear to have been sold to one developer, as is the case in many neighborhoods being developed today.

7)      How many houses are in Roslyn Hills now? 

The tax records indicate 182 homes attributed to the neighborhood of Roslyn Hills. There may be a little overlap between adjacent neighborhoods, as the lines are sometime blurred a little.

8)      Could you describe the neighborhood’s architectural styles? 

There are a variety of Architectural styles in Roslyn Hills. Many of the home sstyles reflect the time during which a particular home was built. There are ranches, and capes as well as traditional two story colonials.

9)      How large are the lots? 

Roslyn hills enjoys generous lot sizes; reflecting a time when each house was supported by well and/or septic systems – before the installation of public water and sewer utilities, making larger lots obsolete. Most lots are between a half and one and a half acres. It appears the majority of lots are a little less than one acre.

10)   What amenities does Roslyn Hills offer? 

Roslyn Hills has a number of Creeks, ponds, mature trees, and neighborhood play grounds. It is a great area to stroll around because there are no real cut-through streets to generate a volume of automobile traffic. The car traffic is generated almost exclusively by the folks who live in the neighborhood.

12)  What’s the typical Roslyn Hills homeowner like? 

As a realtor, I can’t answer this question. I will tell you there are a Lot of families as well as individual home owners, and with a good mix of ages. This may be considered a “destination neighborhood”, as many people choose to stay in the neighborhood many years longer than the national average.  A client of ours is preparing to put her house on the market after living there for fifteen years, nearly twice the typical home owner stays in one location.

13)  What public schools do Roslyn Hills’s students attend?  And how important are those schools’ reputation in attracting homebuyers? 

Schools are important to the area’s home owners, and are one of the primary reasons people flock to this area. Tuckahoe Elementary, Tuckahoe Middle and Freeman High are the three public schools serving this area. Some better known private schools include Collegiate just to the west along River Road, and St Catherine and St Christopher to the east into the City. St. Michael’s and Trinity Episcopal are just over the river from the Willy or Huguenot bridges. The University of Richmond is very close as well.

14)  What can homeowners do in the area for entertainment? 

Everything! Great access to either side of the River, shopping and restaurants are only moments away. Stony Point Fashion Park is just across the Willy Bridge. Roslyn Hills is a great location for this reason.

15)  What do you think is the No. 1 reason buyers choose Roslyn Hills?  How important is its being in the River Road corridor, for example?

The location of Roslyn Hills is one of the best reasons to choose this neighborhood. One can enjoy being in the County of Henrico, but still take advantage of the relative ease and access of being in the City of Richmond. It is true that River Road has a certain cache attached to it, which may be important for some people, but I don’t know if that is a primary consideration for living in this neighborhood. Homes are still relatively affordable, starting in the mid three-hundreds to the mid eight-hundreds; the average home price hovers on average right around $500,000. There are a few homes that may sell for a million dollars or more.  


John VanderSyde is a Licensed Real Estate Broker and a Licensed Architect. He has been in construction, development and building since 1986, and a licensed Realtor since 2002. He and his wife Ann are team partners at Virginia Properties, a Long & Foster Company in Richmond, VA.

Spring and the Marketplace – What’s Different this Year?

   I’m looking at the Weekend Section of the newspaper. There is a lot of information about the latest market conditions, news beyond the bust, and interests in the “home” trending upward.  There is a resurgence of advertisement, upbeat statistics, and the pleasing optimism that aligns itself with improving real estate conditions. It is the blush of spring, where new homes for sale honestly reflects the time of year when fresh and new is sincere and hopeful. It is distinctly different than what we have been experiencing over the last several years, and it is notable.

   None of this can happen without the eager participation of buyers and sellers! Open house dates are spinning with activity, full of sincere purchasers looking at the “home” as something more than just an investment. They are remembering that homeownership is about choosing a lifestyle, as well as a standard of living, that suits one’s particular needs. It is the notion that “location, price and condition” are more than simply buzz-words and market hype, and that people really want to live where it matters most to them.

   The relevance of investors doesn’t adequately describe the true nature of their contribution to the marketplace. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that 27 percent of all real estate transactions in 2011 were for the purchase of an investment property, and that 11 percent of all real estate transactions last year were second home purchases. A significant portion of these transactions were paid for with cash, which further supports the idea that many buyers are investing in a lifestyle, and not just their bottom line.

    There is no doubt a science to real estate, but it doesn’t overshadow the complementary feelings and emotions that go into buying and selling homes. People know this, and it is eminently apparent that we are currently enjoying a little more of the latter during this rather delightful time of year. This is of course the notable difference from recent past years in real estate. Let’s choose to keep looking forward; because after all that’s where the future is – for all of us!


John VanderSyde is an Associate Broker, REALTOR with Virginia Properties in Richmond, VA (804) 282-7300

The Stonewall Court of Richmond, VA – A Brief History

At the declaration of World War II in 1941, the nation was put on alert for protection against foreign invasion. Over the entire country, from the East to the West Coasts, groups were formed for the safety and protection of people in all communities. Men and women were selected from each neighborhood to form a Civil Defense Patrol.

In the “Court”, it was decided a meeting place had to be established, a location where the Patrol could hold gatherings and store equipment. As it turns out, one of my former listings, the dwelling known as 345 Lexington Road, was chosen for this task. It was selected because it had a basement and was one of the few places that could be entered from the outside, without going through the house.

Shelves and racks were installed in the basement to hold steel helmets, special flashlights, stretchers, splints, and other first-aid equipment needed for emergencies. Like most communities during that time, thick black shades covered all the windows and doors of homes on the Court.

When the sirens wailed in the night, Wardens reported immediately to the designated meeting place and pick up their helmets and lights. Streets were patrolled with vigilance to insure that no light was visible from any building and to verify that everyone was off the street.

 The wardens stayed at their posts until the “all clear” signal was given. Then they returned to headquarters to replace the equipment (and perhaps more than not to socialize).  As World War II ended with a community drawn more closely together by a common interest, it was decided by the group that they should remain together, meeting in the same place, but calling themselves the Stonewall Court Civic Association.

The purpose of the new association was to further community interest in civic affairs and to encourage friendly relationships and interaction between all families living on the Court. Voluntary participation in the Association is one of the fundamental essentials that enable the residents of this neighborhood to be so connected to this day.

As a result, the people who have come to live in Stonewall Court continue to pick up the torch by carrying on the ideals and sprit of the Air Raid Wardens of 1941. This is a vibrant neighborhood with a close, caring community; it is one of many in the area I am happy to represent!


[Information provided through the Stonewall Court Civic Association]

The Fall Harvest

   Mark your Calendars! According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, autumn begins on September 22 at 11:09 PM EDT;   it’s just about official, summer 2010 is over. The Autumnal equinox is coming, and you can feel it in the onset of that brisk autumn air, as well as with the number of home sales hitting the streets!

 September marks the official kick-off of the fall real estate market, and in Richmond, Virginia we are beginning to see the signs of the new housing inventory offering purchasers and sellers a second chance to reap the benefits of the second gathering. Like the change of seasons influencing harvest time, these annual cycles also influence home sales. September, October and into November is the second hottest time of year to buy and sell following the robust and often frenzied spring housing market.

 Historically, the Autumnal Equinox becomes synonymous with not only the completion of the harvest, but also the end of summer. The full moon associated with the fall equinox is known as the Harvest Moon and sometimes as the “Wine Moon” because this is also the time of year when grapes are harvested and the process of making wine begins. In past times, many farmers would harvest their crops by the full moon, using the light from the moon to extend their gathering time. This final gathering of the crops and the beginning of preparations for the long winter that lay ahead marked a time of thanksgiving for all that Nature has given her children and for the completion of another turn of the Great Wheel of life. Although the Autumnal Equinox falls in September and not November, the connection to the harvest and the fall highlight similarities to our modern Thanksgiving.

 If is interesting to see how these seasonal cycles are often mirrored in our modern lives. The change of seasons that influence our life styles and purchasing trends today are somewhat similar to the way we all used to live when the change of seasons actually dictated how we live. It makes one wonder if the two are somehow linked?

For more info about the Autumnal Equinox:   The time of year when night and day are of equal length in all parts of the Earth is known as the “equinox”. The word equinox comes from a Latin words meaning “equal night.” Autumnal equinox is the beginning of autumn. It occurs on September 22nd or 23rd.

  If you are interested in exploring more, here are some sites with more detailed explanations of the equinox: