Getting to know Arnada

Vancouver neighborhood keeps busy as it seeks historic status




o Here's the scoop on the neighborhood's name from Pat Jollota in her book "Naming Clark County." The neighborhood was originally called Vancouver Heights. The developer changed its name to reflect the names of three friends: AR from Margaret Ranns; NA for Anna Eastham; and DA from Ida Elwell.

The Arnada neighborhood already has a vibrant shopping district on Main Street, a beautiful, secluded park and a rich history with large, carefully crafted homes built in the early 1900s still standing and lovingly occupied.

o Here’s the scoop on the neighborhood’s name from Pat Jollota in her book “Naming Clark County.” The neighborhood was originally called Vancouver Heights. The developer changed its name to reflect the names of three friends: AR from Margaret Ranns; NA for Anna Eastham; and DA from Ida Elwell.

So what’s next for this neighborhood of about 938?

It’s a large community garden planned to open this spring, said Suze Marshall, a co-chair with the Arnada Neighborhood Association.

Members have had the soil sampled, and it’s good.

City officials have agreed to install a water meter. Using various small grants, the association has obtained the equipment needed and has tried to do as much of the physical work as possible.

“We’re excited,” said Marshall, who also is a musician and music teacher. “Everybody’s getting jazzed.”

The association also wants to achieve historic status for Arnada.

Folks have done a historical survey for starters, and are working with Holly Chamberlain, a private consultant for historic and cultural projects.

It takes lots of paperwork to get the small grants that pay for such projects, Marshall said.

Lending a hand, and tools

Last summer, members bought various tools and established a neighborhood tool-lending library, now in Marshall’s garage also with a small grant.

The tool list includes ladders, a post-hole digger, hedge shears and more, ordinary things folks use to work on their homes and yards. Sometimes neighbors borrow the tools and use them to help elderly residents fix up their homes, Marshall said.

Other features of Arnada:

• Arnada Park is a bit hard to find behind trees and bushes on the corner of East Fourth Plain Boulevard eastbound and Interstate 5 southbound. Access is within the neighborhood at the end of 25th Street.

About 50 neighbors worked to place a large gazebo. There are playground equipment and paved paths on the property, the former home of Arnada Elementary School, long since torn down.

• Arnada’s neighborhood association was the first, in December 1976, to be recognized by city officials.

“We’re the smallest, most active neighborhood in the city,” Marshall said.

Besides helping with the park’s gazebo, Arnada association members and others helped created a kiosk, a bench and a green fleur-de-lis pavement mural at the intersection of East 22nd and D streets.

Ads on the kiosk include the “Friendly Neighborhood Cleaning Lady” and “Learn to Bollywood.”

And there’s a photo of a dog named Runt who went missing Feb. 16.

There’s also a fleur-de-lis pavement mural that covers an entire intersection in green and white and was financed by a matching grant from the city. It’s pretty and was painted to influence drivers to see it and slow down. It’s working, Marshall said.

• Many of the old homes were built in the simple but hardy Craftsman style and similar styles, handmade by fine carpenters with the excellent lumber of the times. Hundreds of Craftsman homes were built in Clark County between 1905 and 1930.

“There’s still horse rings in the concrete in front of my house, where you could park your horse,” said Fred Langer, who has lived in Arnada 38 years.

He enjoys the history of the area, where street cars once rolled through. Plans call for the proposed light rail line to move through the neighborhood.

• Arnada is like a small, self-sufficient town inside a city, residents say.

“It’s very well located for access to everything,” said Jerry Kessel, 77, who has logged 37 years living in Arnada. Even the new downtown library is within walking distance, he said.

“I like it because you can walk to everything, or ride your bike,” Marshall said. “It’s like a little tiny village. The kids all know each other here.”

• A big draw for Arnada residents and folks from all around is Main Street’s Uptown Village. The street is lined with shops, markets, restaurants, bakeries, an ice cream shop, and doctors’ and dentists’ offices.

John Branton: 360-798-6924 or