What’s in a Name?

During the spring of 2003, while Colvin Run Elementary School was under construction, the time came for the Fairfax County School Board to formally choose a name for the school. Community meetings were held and the two most popular names put forward for consideration were Colvin Run and Catherine Filene Shouse. Many in the community wanted a name that dealt with geography, particularly relating to water as a unifying theme.

Water joins the entire community and is soothing. This water is exemplified by Colvin Run, Difficult Run, Wolftrap Run, and Courthouse Bridge Run at Wolf Trap Farm touching better than 95 percent of the developments sending children to the Andrew Chapel Elementary School site. It keeps with the geographic theme of all four feeder schools. This watershed area comes from the lake at Meadowlark Gardens Park and feeds each piece of the streambed. It is the same continuous stream regardless of which side of Route 7 one is on.
~ Letter to Jane Strauss, the Fairfax County School Board representative for Dranesville District, 2003.

The Catherine Filene Shouse School Stage

The School Board ultimately chose the name Colvin Run for the building and named our performing arts space for Catherine Filene Shouse. Catherine Filene Shouse grew up with a love of music, children, and strong values for education. She moved to Northern Virginia in the 1920s, and purchased Wolf Trap farm in 1930. Memories of the musical gatherings of her mother influenced Shouse to transform her 100 acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia into the only national park dedicated to the performing arts, and to donate her time and money to musically and educationally inclined philanthropic causes, including those for children.

Black and white portrait of Catherine Filene Shouse at her graduation from Bradford Academy in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1913.
Catherine Filene Shouse at her graduation from Bradford Academy in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1913. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Catherine Filene Shouse began the first chamber music concerts at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and sponsored annual concerts for children and served on the National Symphony Board. She also donated money and acreage to the Department of the Interior for the formation of an outdoor cultural attraction—Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Catherine Filene Shouse died at her home in Naples, Florida, in 1994, but her spirit lives on in the music that was so much a part of her life.

From Colville to Colvin

Today we pronounce it COLE-vin, but the name Colvin was historically pronounced COLL-vin. Colvin Run took its name from Colonel John Colville, who owned much of the surrounding property in the 1740s. Learn more about the history of the Colvin Run community in this video produced for Fairfax County Public Schools’ cable television channel Red Apple 21.