By Justin T. Carreno – March 12, 2020

Six CVFD firefighters posing for a photo with their apparatus in front of the Donaldson house, a two story single family home with a porch.
Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department firefighters in front of the Donaldson house circa 1911

Nearly 200 years ago, on March 9, 1828, Dorsey Donaldson is born. He will become a prominent farmer, and plant a cherry orchard in what will become Arlington County and his neighborhood, Cherrydale, will be named for it. He married Cornelia Ann Dye and built a two-story home at the southeast corner of Lee Highway and North Quincy Street. His house was a major landmark in the center of Cherrydale until it was demolished in 1959 to make way for what is now Brown’s Honda.

The neighborhood grew after the Civil War to become one of Arlington County’s first communities. Donaldson and other community leaders petitioned the federal government in 1893 for a local post office to be called “Cherrydale.” The name stuck. With the growth of the neighborhood there became a demand for a fire station, and by 1898 The Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department was organized. In 1915, after years of site searches for a permanent, central station, to optimize response to fires, the volunteers purchased the lot next to Donaldson’s house on Lee Highway. Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department’s new fire station was called “Central Station House,” the name given to the same station that serves Cherrydale today.

Justin T. Carreno is a volunteer firefighter/EMT and serves as Historian for the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department in Arlington, Virginia.


  • “Fire Fighting in Arlington County,” 1961, by Leslie L. Shelton
  • “Cherrydale Neighborhood Conservation Plan,” 2005
  • “The Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department: A History,” 2014, Kathy Holt-Springston
  • Virginia Department of Historic Resources