Cherrydale Branch Library

Serving North Arlington since 1922

This page was last updated on February 17, 2013.

A Reminiscence of Harvey and Maxine Lampshire

On a cold February day in 1992, my wife Suzanne and I were going door to door in North Arlington, collecting signatures for a petition to keep Cherrydale Branch Library open. The county government had proposed closing it and converting the beautiful building into a document storage warehouse. As chance would have it, one of the doors we knocked on was that of Harvey and Maxine Lampshire, on N. Quebec Street. They were in their 80s at the time. Maxine was confined to a wheelchair. Both were wearing their pajamas and bathrobes, despite the mid-afternoon hour. The Lampshires appeared to be looking after each other; one gained the impression they had been doing so their whole married lives. When they learned we were working to keep Cherrydale Library open, they graciously opened their home and memories to us, recounting their own efforts that began in 1957 to create a new building for Cherrydale Library, the building Suzanne and I were defending that afternoon.

Mr. Lampshire gave us several practical and legal pointers, such as our need to record the address of each signer of our petition, as well as a printed rendition of each signer's name--things that Suzanne and I, in our political naivte, had been neglecting to do. The couple then regaled us with stories of Arlington County politics during the 1950s. Mr. Lampshire, in addition to serving as president of the Cherrydale Citizens Association and chairman of the Northeast Library Committee, was a leader in the county's Republican Party. Maxine Lampshire worked as a journalist for the Northern Virginia Sun. In addition to using that platform to push for a new library building for Cherrydale, she wrote op-ed pieces advocating the integration of Arlington public schools and the extension of full civil rights to African-Americans. This was at a time when the Arlington County government was much less enlightened than what it became by 1960. Often, after the publication of such a piece, she would be arrested and jailed overnight, then released the following morning with no charges having been filed against her.

The harrassment of the Lampshires took other forms. Once they awoke at 3 am to hear crashing and banging at their front door, with flashing red lights swirling in their front yard. It was an Arlington fire engine. The engine captain said, "I'm awfully sorry for this mistake, sir, but we had gotten a phone call saying there was a fire at this address." Mr. Lampshire, always quick to make lemonade out of lemons, answered, "They're right! There is a fire here, boys. It's on the stove. We're heating some water for coffee. Come on in and have a cup." The Lampshires and the firemen spent the next hour or so sitting around their kitchen table, chatting over coffee.

After about an hour of savoring their stories, Suzanne and I bade the Lampshires good-bye and continued with our signature collecting. Harvey Lampshire would die the next year, in 1993. Maxine passed away in 1997. It was only after I began researching the history of Cherrydale Library in 2009, in preparation for the present building's 50th anniversary in 2011, that the scope of Harvey Lampshire's effort became fully apparent. In 1957 he had organized advocates from eight north Arlington PTA's and eight local civic associations into his Northeast Library Committee. These civic associations were Bellvue Forest, Cherrydale (which then included Maywood), Donaldson Run, Gulf Branch, Lyon Village, North Highlands, Northwest, and Parkway. Between 1957 and the groundbreaking for the current Cherrydale Library building on September 4, 1960, he and other committee representatives made over 50 presentations before the County Board to press for a new library building, a building that has since fixed itself in the hearts of north Arlingtonians, giving neighborhood residents hours of pleasure and years of fond memories. Suzanne and I came to appreciate that the chance meeting we had with Harvey and Maxine Lampshire on that cold afternoon in 1992 had been one of the most priceless hours of our lives.

--Greg Embree, Member, Citizens for Cherrydale Library

This site is maintained by Citizens for Cherrydale Library, a group of citizen volunteers seeking since 1998 to promote and preserve our most important neighborhood institution. Contact us at with any questions or comments.