The Man Behind The Name: Who is Cecil D. Hylton?

The Man Behind The Name: Who is Cecil D. Hylton?

Chloe Koulefianou, Correspondent

Cecil D. Hylton; the enigmatic namesake of our educational institution. We’ve all heard of him. His name was given to the school and the memorial chapel, and his wife, Irene funded the Hylton Planetarium. But who is he, why did he donate so much to the city, and why do we not hear more about him? This article will tackle all these questions and by the end, you will be an expert on our benevolent benefactor Cecil.

The very first thing you need to know about C.D. Hylton, is that his middle name is “Don,” not “Dale,” as many assume. He had roots as a humble sod farmer while Prince William County was still one of the most rapidly growing counties in the US. In the early 1960s, Hylton began buying land about 30 miles south of DC. As he built housing developments along Dale Boulevard in Dale City (which was named for its “rolling hills and dales”), Hylton inconspicuously rose through the ranks of the rich to the point where the only other entity that paid more in taxes than him was Virginia Electric & Power Co.

The first development was Ashdale, followed by Birchdale and Cloverdale and a series of affordable neighborhoods in alphabetical order inhabited by government workers who could not afford to live in the more expensive homes of Fairfax. Hylton himself lived in one of his own homes in Marumsco Hills.

Cecil D. Hylton was not only a rich housing developer, but he was also known for his great character. According to a Washington Post article from 1984, “Hylton’s associates describe him as quiet and unassuming, even shy, a calm and likable man with enormous common sense who inspires terrific loyalty, something on the brink of love, among the phalanx of men who surround him and do his bidding.” He could be found working alongside his laborers, usually working no less than 12 hours a day and 6 days a week. “He’s probably the best example of a private enterpriser that I have ever run into in my 27-year career,” said Chuck Sharp, Prince William’s chief executive from 1955 to 1972.

Another one of the definitive characteristics of Hylton was his evading of the press. His preference for a quiet life created a mystical aura around this man that we owe most of our city to. His legacy is carried on by the Hylton Group, which offers “fabulous savings & special incentives on luxurious condominiums, townhomes & single family estates” according to its website.

Cecil D. Hylton died at the age of 72 in 1989, leaving behind $211 million to his 25 survivors. Before his death, he donated the sites for eight PWCS schools, two parks, the Potomac Hospital, Christ Chapel Assembly of God, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Prince William County. Most do not know of the philanthropic background of the man who donated $10 million to the building of C.D. Hylton High School, but it is safe to say that he is who we should thank for the history of this city we call home.