The Nauck community has a long and diverse history. The area that now comprises the Nauck neighborhood was originally granted to John Todd and Evan Thomas in 1719. The land was later acquired by Robert Alexander and sold to John Parke Custis in 1778, becoming part of the Abingdon estate. Until the Civil War era, the area remained farmland with few structures. Free blacks, such as Levi and Sarah Ann Jones, who built a house in 1844, owned land prior to the Civil War in what is now Nauck.
After the war, the area attracted several families from Freedman's Village (located near what is now Foxcroft Heights) and other locations. In 1874, John D. Nauck, Jr., a resident of Washington, D. C., bought 46 acres of land in south Arlington and began subdividing it; and the neighborhood Nauck as it is known today began to form.
In that same year, land was purchased for the relocation of the Little Zion Church (now Lomax A.M.E. Zion Church), a congregation that was first organized in the Freedman's Village in 1865-66. The church building at the new site, which also served as a public school, first opened in 1875 (later known as the Kemper School). The School Board built a one-room school in 1885. In 1893, a new two-story brick school was constructed at South Lincoln Street and was later replaced by a larger building, now known as Drew Elementary.
It was the electric railway, which came to Nauck in 1898 that spurred development of the neighborhood. The Nauck line of the Washington, Arlington, and Fairfax Railway ran parallel to what is now South Kenmore Street and there was a station located south of what is now the intersection of 19th Street South and South Kenmore Street.
The 1902 Virginia Constitution that restricted the rights of black citizens halted the expansion of the neighborhood. The Nauck neighborhood continued to subdivide the land already owned by blacks so that more people could be accommodated, but the neighborhood boundaries remained relatively unchanged.
World War II brought about significant changes to Nauck. Dunbar homes, located at Kemper Road and Shirlington Road, was built during the war on a tract of land that was once owned by Levi Jones and his family. The construction of the Pentagon and its surrounding roads resulted in the destruction of several predominately black neighborhoods in Arlington thereby displacing many people. Some of these people relocated to Nauck as did the A.M.E. Zion Church now on 24th Road South between Glebe Road and Shirlington Road.
Maps from 1952 revealed that a few blocks were still vacant and others were nearly built to capacity and appear much as they do today. The neighborhood of Nauck continues to develop along the lines established many years ago and is a community rich in history.
Text courtesy of Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr.