Henry Clay Park (22201)

Friday March 16, 2012
Henry Clay Park

Henry Clay Park

3011 7th St. N.
Arlington, VA 22201
Website   ~   Map Link

The Review:

We decided to meet up with friends and check out Henry Clay Park on a delightfully sunny, technically-winter-but-feels-like-spring kind of day.   The park is surprisingly large, given the density of the neighborhood homes and it’s close proximity to Clarendon.  There wasn’t much shade, but the full sun was welcome on a mild spring-like day.


HCP features two separate play structures, for younger and older kids.  Unlike Chesnut Hills, the play areas are close enough and have decent enough sight lines that a mom with more than one child has a better chance at keeping all her kids in sight without too much trouble.

The Big Kid Play Structure




The large play structure features lots of different slides, including two enclosed tube slides, a zip line, monkey bars, a fireman’s pole and more.

Next to this play structure, there is a small playhouse, sitting in the shade of a tree.


Younger Kids Play Structure


This area was set in sand and featured a smaller structure, along with two baby swings.


Unfortunately, one of the bucket seats was ripped, leaving only one functional swing.   There were no regular/big kid swings.

The boys had a great time digging in the sand with all the trucks and play equipment that seem to be donated to the park.


A covered gazebo and picnic table sit in the middle of the park.   It made a nice spot to eat our lunch and keep an eye on the kids.


Behind the gazebo, there is an open field and one basketball court.  There is also a water fountain on the Highland St. side of the park.


There is a sidewalk that loops around the perimeter of this mostly flat park, making it a great spot for younger riders to go for a spin.

There is a slight decline from the center of the park (by the gazebo) towards 7th St.  The boys found it fun to ride the ride-on toys down the path, towards 7th St.  This has the potential to be dangerous, and if your child doesn’t heed boundaries or verbal instruction — he or she could find himself heading towards the street.


Thankfully that was not an issue with our group, but the parks porous boundaries did prove problematic for one mom with a runner.   The split rail fencing surrounding the park does not span the crosswalks and roving child could easily make his escape.

As far as parking goes, there was limited street parking on 7th, but we found plenty on Garfield St.  I could see parking being an issue on a nice day, but wasn’t a problem when we were there.

Overall, we enjoyed this park.  I’m sure it would be hot in the height of summer, but it made a nice destination on a mild day.

Find more parks by visiting my main Arlington Parks & Playgrounds page.

23 Responses to Henry Clay Park (22201)

  1. 1
    Ted W. Young says:

    I would love to see a picture of the old grade School that use to sit here if anyone who reads this has one. Attended Henry Clay grade school until my 3rd year then family moved to Alexandria.

    Thanks Ted Young 1944-1948

    • 1.1
      heather bruce says:

      would love pic also – went here 1943-47. remember yo yo experts came to playground to,teach kids yoyo tricks! lived not so near on north Hudson and got lost on way home. no parents driving kids,to,school,then!

  2. 2
    Bill Eddy says:

    I’ll join the crowd and wish for a picture, too. I attended Henry Clay from 1936 to 1941. Dolly Smith was Principal, and I can remember most of the teachers from 1C thru 6th. We planted a tree in front of the school one year for Arbor Day. I guess it’s gone with the school. That’s progress.

  3. 3
    Meredith Muncie says:

    Did they tear the school down to make the park? I attended 1960-1963 and lived on the same block but on Garfield Street. Broke my leg roller skating down the hill to the back door!

  4. 4
    Robyn Megonigal says:

    I have fond memories of Henry Clay/Filmore school . Attended 60-67. Miss Smith was great she had a twin sister. We planted a tree in her memory. Played soft ball, bowling, was captain of girls patrols in 6th grade, someone stole my captains badge just before the patrol parade in DC. I also played kick ball for recess each day from 2ed to 6th grade. I guess if we want pictures we need to go to the library on Quincy st. and go to the Virginia room. I’d love to see some photos. any way, thats my 2 cents.

  5. 5
    Barry Benishek says:

    I just stumbled across this post looking up old memories of Dolly Smith. A little late in adding to the comments, but I attended Fillmore/Clay from 61-66. I have fond memories of Dolly Smith and the school and teachers. I participated in the school’s bowling league, the safety patrol parades, and patrol camp with officer Jeanette. I was lieutenant in 6th grade which was cool because I got to ride my bike around the neighborhood relieving all the safety patrols “ALL OFF.” Dolly Smith and her dedication to her students and commitment to all she did was a great inspiration to me. I don’t have pictures of the school, but it’s image is etched in my memories. By the way Robyn Megonigal, I believe I remember you. I attended Filmore, Clay, T.J. Annex (former Hoffman Boston), Thos Jefferson JH, Washington-Lee.

    • 5.1
      Robyn Megonigal says:

      Hi Barry, I remember you… we were in the same 3rd grade class together, and I went to TJ annex, then WL. I was looking for photos of the old Clay building and of course, I don’t think there are any. Then, today I wound up at this site again, I don’t know why but then I saw your post and wanted to connect with you. Are you still in Arlington? Look me up in the Arlington County Pub. schools some time if you want to… Nice to talk with you, take care. Robyn

      • 5.1.1
        David Powell says:

        There is another WEB place or listserv,called nextdoor,and someone (Tracy Hopkins) has put a circa 1959 picture of the school on there. In the foreground there may be a bit of Dr. Allard’s yard showing.

        I think its http://www.nextdoor.com /Lyon Park The site is slow to navigate on my 18 year old computer.

      • 5.1.2
        Barry D Benishek says:

        Well… I had an itch to google Dolly Smith for some reason and happened across this site again.. lol. A few years late, but it was cool getting your reply to my comment. I’m not in Arlington, but visit now and then, and hardly recognize much anymore… kinda sad. I now live in Herndon. If you get this, my email is barry.benishek@verizon.net… send a hello. We did have an awesome 3rd grade with Ms. DuVall. Remember when Robert Duvall visited the class, and her picnic at Lake Barcroft? lol Fun

          Barry D Benishek says:

          By the way, there is a facebook group “I Grew Up in Arlington” with a bunch of old photos of the school, patrols, bowlers and students. Wow, what memories. I just joined the group… maybe I’ll see some of you there. 🙂

      • 5.1.3
        Barry D Benishek says:

        OK Robyn… I’m a bit confused. I did some searching thru the W-L yearbook and found you. I definitely remember you now. But, wondering if we were in same 3rd grade… I was W-L ’72 and seems you might have been ’71, putting me a year ahead of you. But, I definitely remember you from HS. So maybe my comments about Duvall’s class confused you… lol. I hung around with Lester Mitchell and Steve Speroni back in Henry Clay days.

  6. 6
    Ron Coder says:

    Barry Benishek!! We were classmates at each school and I remember going duck pin bowling with Miss Smith and Miss Pulley I think?? Slog ball on the playground at recess!! We need to connect

    • 6.1
      Robyn Megonigal says:

      Ron, you played slog…. not us, we played drop kick ball and I was able to kick it over both fences on both sides of the black top. Glad to see there are others still remembering our old school and Miss Dolly.

  7. 7
    Sharon Overstreet says:

    This is an answer to my fondest wishes. I attended Henry Clay elementary 61-63 and I have been trying to find any record of classmates in vain. I had Mrs. DUvall in 3rd grade 61-62 and Mrs. Bradley in 4th the following year. Do you remember the odd family that came from Japan and could only speak Japanese for a while? That was me, Sharon Crowley, and an older brother, David, and younger sister, Grace. I sure would love to connect on Facebook with some of my former classmates.

    • 7.1
      Barry D Benishek says:

      Sharon, I had Duvall in 3rd grade 62-63. Her brother Robert Duvall visited our class that year. You were on to 4th grade by then i guess. My teachers from 1st grade (Fillmore) to 6th were: Kaiser, Flowers, Duvall, Cottrell (sp), Mahan, and Pully.

      I know this is a really late reply, but I just saw this. lol

  8. 8
    David Powell says:

    There is supposed to be a memorial stone in Clay Park. With a metal inset on it mentioning “Miss Dolly Smith,our principal for 40 years”.
    I noticed the stone missing some time last Winter of 2018-2019.There had been some landscaping work going on. I hope someone didn’t steal the stone for its copper content. (The stone was probably concrete with the metal plaque insert probably bronze or copper)
    If the stone has been stolen or destroyed that is a travesty.
    I wish someone would bring back the stone. I believe the stone was placed in 1967 when Miss Smith retired. At a time when the school was still operating under another principal. The stone was there (Clay park after the school was demolished) up until a year or so ago.

  9. 9
    David Powell says:

    At the time I was brought to Arlington as a 5th grader in (?)1962 I learned(from Miss Smith?) that a neat man had lived in a house across from the school (the house is long demolished and sat on where there are now 2 houses)but he had died as of the previous year,his name was Dr. Allard (Allerd)?
    I later understood talking to Dr. Phoebe Knipling (founder of the AOEA and Outdoor Lab) that Dr. Allard had worked with her husband out at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Station
    Dr. Ed Knipling Sr. was an entomologist and veterinary medicine expert

  10. 10
    David Powell says:

    Update: I have found out that the stone is definitely missing. I believe that it has been stolen. This was a memorial,I believe Miss Smith was there when the stone was first presented,probably at a retirement celebration for her while she was still at the school with only a few more days at work for her. So irreplaceable.
    As far as I am concerned this is as much a crime as stealing a gravestone from a cemetery.

    I had been hoping that the stone was simply in storage. Amazed of such disrespect for our history and of Miss Smith.

  11. 11
    David Powell says:

    I believe that if the park is renamed,and for someone other than Miss Smith,that is disrespectable to her memory.

  12. 12
    David Powell says:

    Tremendous construction has been going on at the site,I think to create a much more “active” activity area with much more hardscaped structure,I think the park as it was,more passive and simple,more of a place to sit and rest or let your kids play on the equipment such as it was and with a few young trees that had been planted will have proved to have been better than what’s coming.
    Sad to see that a few old sewer pipes and perhaps a bit of left over structure buried from the wonderful old school building had been piled up. Better if it had been allowed to r.i.p.

  13. 13
    Norma. (Vint) Burrage says:

    Loved Dolly Smith an Mrs. Pat Long her secretary attended Henry Clay 60 to 65then Hoffman Boston TJ old one then on to graduate 70 from WL great childhood growing up in Lyon Park

  14. 14
    David Powell says:

    As of October 2 2021 the construction fences are gone,the park is open and there are people there using the new playground equipment,there is a stone there along a sidewalk and surrounded by shrubbery that appears to be a copy of the original stone that had been placed in the presence of Miss Smith. Says “June 4 1967” on it but I think it is obviously new,a reproduction.

    Ironically I just found out that a person I believe was a member of NCAI and one of the last charter members/founding members of “American Indian Society of Washington D.C.” has passed earlier this past Summer,Mrs. Karen Collins .
    (the renaming of the park is supposed to honor one of the founders of NCAI to my understanding but I believe that at one time renaming the park for Miss Smith was rejected because she was still alive at the time)

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