Hatch Lake, oil painting ca 1974 by Charlene Zoehler, coming soon to Pohick Regional Library.
Hatch Lake is now located within Burke Station Park on Hatch’s Run, a tributary of Pohick Creek. Not coincidentally, it’s also adjacent Hatches Court off Shiplett Boulevard. The lake was originally created as the mill pond for Silas Burke’s saw and grist mill. The house depicted was built in 1925 by Paul Marshall; in the late 1930s, the property—known as Millstone Farm—passed to C. Douglas and Ruth Streeter Hatch, who made several additions to the house. The farm’s spring was reputed to have curative properties, and the Hatch family would sometimes observe neighbors carrying off water from it during the middle of the night.
Douglas Hatch practiced law in Washington with Cravath, de Gersdorf, & Wood (now Cravath, Swaine, & Moore LLP), one of the country’s oldest law firms. Ruth Hatch taught in Fairfax County Public Schools, became a co-founder and first secretary of the Fairfax County Library Board, was a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and invented a boardgame called “Lobby” that dramatized the legislative process. Guests of the Hatches’ parties included the likes of ambassadors and senators.
The Hatch family also operated the Millstone Farm Summer Day Camp and Riding School, teaching equestrianism to many Burke-area children and giving them a chance to shine in periodic horse shows open to the community. (A small stable is also depicted in the painting.) The painting was made by Charlene Zoehler for her neighbor, Janice C. Brinckman, depicting the view from the Brinckmans’ back window on Andromeda Drive; they were the second family to move into the new community of Rolling Valley West in 1972.
In July 2022, Brinckman siblings Laura, Edward, and Donna donated the painting to the Burke Historical Society. In their words: “When Mrs. Brinckman moved to Burke the lake stretched from what is now Erman Court nearly to Shiplett Blvd. It was home to a pair of otters, several year-round resident ducks, large turtles, bull frogs, largemouth bass, several species of pan fish, and all types of water loving birds.”
Suburban development led to increased sedimentation in the lake, such that local children would sometimes become stuck in the deep clay soil around the banks and require rescue. This danger prompted the descision to divert Hatch’s Run around the spillway and allow the lake to slowly empty. Again in the words of the Brinckman siblings, “Today (2022) all that remains of the lake is a shallow marshy area on its northeastern end. Due to its low-lying topography, it remains undeveloped and is subject to occasional flooding during sustained heavy rains. As of this day, July 3, 2022, the painting is being donated to the Burke Historical Society by Mrs. Brinckman’s surviving children, Laura, Edward and Donna to help preserve the memory of the rural nature of what Burke once was.”