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Saving Silos: Carl Sell Attempts to Preserve Past in His D.C. Suburb

A developer wants to demolish relics of former farm community.

In an age when Washington D.C. suburbs resemble small cities, traffic snarls in the middle of the day and townhouses line crowded side streets, Rose Hill has stood the test of time as an oasis of green lawns and family homes. And Carl Sell wants to keep it that way.

As president of , Sell said he feels the history of Rose Hill and the surrounding area is just as important as neighborhood beautification and structural upkeep. The land on which he has lived for more than 50 years was part of a large agricultural and gravel mining operation. Before that, it was the site of Colonel John Singleton Mosby’s Confederate raid on Rose Hill in 1863.

Sell’s community involvement runs deep in Rose Hill. A retired sports editor for the Washington Star and baseball fan, Sell was a coach and eventually president of the local Pioneer Baseball League. Using that experience, he helped start a basketball league and football league complete with cheerleaders.

His league work with former  led him to a position on the county’s Park Authority where he helped come to fruition. He later led the county’s Planning Commission for 20 years, helping to plan and develop Kingstowne, a 5,300- home community near Rose Hill.

Today Sell is part of a movement in Rose Hill to save . “The silos depict the agricultural nature of Rose Hill and Franconia up until the boom which took place after World War II,” he said.

The property on which the silos stand is privately owned, and currently in planning stages for the development of 13 homes on the five-acre site. The plans do not include keeping the silos.

“I recognize [the developer's] legal rights to develop the property,” said Sell, who filed nomination paperwork in September to include the silos in Fairfax County’s Inventory of Historical Sites to help save them from demolition. “But I would hope that he would incorporate the silos…I think it’s important to preserve them.”

Sell’s dedication to the history of his community also led him to become involved in the local Franconia history museum where he serves as a volunteer. “In order to preserve for the future, you have to understand the past,” claimed Sell.

As a retired senior living out his golden years in Rose Hill, does he ever see himself slowing down?

“No, I gotta keep moving,” laughed Sell. “If you don’t keep moving, you’ll shrivel up and blow away, and I’m not going to let that happen.”

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