In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I remember when Al Marah, a community on the south side of River Road, right at the Beltway, was built in the late 1970s into the early 1980s. I remember what the land was like before there were homes there. Al Marah was a horse farm raising beautiful and elegant Arabians – hence the Arabic name which means Oasis.
The Al Marah farm was started by Ruth “Bazy” Tankersley, a niece of Robert McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune. She had moved to Washington DC at the request of her uncle in 1949 to run Washington’s Times- Herald. She left the Times-Herald in 1951 after a dispute with her uncle – which no doubt made holiday dinners a bit tense! After leaving the Times-Herald she devoted herself to raising Arabians on her Bethesda estate on River Road. She had always loved Arabians since her teen years and had studied genetics at Bennington College, which seemed like the perfect college major, given her interests.
Tankersley purchased her first purebred Arabian when she was 19, and began her horse breeding operation, Al-Marah Arabians, in Tucson, in 1941-42. As she moved across the US for her newspaper career, her horses and farm name went with her. She purchased her foundation sire Indraff in 1947, while living in Illinois. Upon her move to Washington, DC, her Al-Marah operation relocated to Bethesda where it became the largest Arabian farm in the United States by 1957. Tankersley returned to Tucson in the 1970s about the time the farm was sold to developers. In Tucson, in addition to horse breeding, she created an apprenticeship program at Al-Marah to train young people for jobs in the horse industry. She set up a second horse operation, the Hat Ranch, near Flagstaff, Arizona. Over her career she bred over 2,800 registered Arabians and was one of the largest importers of horses from the Crabbet Arabian Stud in England.
Not only is the community Al Marah named for the Arabian horse farm that was there for many years, but one of the main streets, Indraff Court, is named for her horse, Indraff. I think that was a thoughtful name for one of the streets in the community.
There are many wonderful communities in the Washington DC area, each with its own history. If you would like to know more about a particular community in the metro area, please give the Lise Howe Group a call at 240-401-5577. As native Washingtonians, or near natives, we love sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm with you! As you start your search for a new home, it is great to understand that the history that has gone into making that community what it is today. Just give us a call wtih any questions or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!