Internal collection, RG 158

RG 158: Ruby Lee Minar Family Papers, 1923-1979

Shortly after the end of World War I, Ruby Lee Minar entered the real estate industry. Using a few hundred dollars from Liberty Bonds, she invested in real estate in the Chevy Chase area and in 1919 began acquiring practical experience working for a Washington, D.C. real estate firm as a saleswoman. In 1920, she opened her own real estate business—Ruby Lee Minar, Inc.—in the Evans Building in Washington, D.C.

Soon after, Minar had obtained exclusive rights for the sale property in the Lyon Park neighborhood of Arlington County. By 1922, she employed 20 salesmen and saleswomen, had sold $1,000,000 worth of property in the Lyon Park subdivision, and had opened extension offices in Lyon Park and Cherrydale.

In 1923 she controlled 400 acres of land between the Potomac and the Washington Country Club, which became the site of her next subdivision project—Lee Heights—valued at $3,000,000. Minar had the foresight to recognize that the planned Key and Memorial Bridges and Lee Highway that would connect Washington, D.C., and Arlington were integral to the suburban expansion she envisioned.

Minar also arranged for other residential amenities such as gas mains, a sewage system, and a water reservoir, all of which helped broaden the appeal of living in the Lee Heights neighborhood and contributed to its success.

Record Group 158, measuring .63 linear feet and artifact storage, contains the personal papers of the Ruby Lee Minar family and spans 1923-1979. The bulk of the material pertains to Ruby Lee and Patricia and comes from the period of the early 1920s through the early 1950s. The collection contains handwritten and typed correspondence; 1930s holiday cards; photographs; publicity and business records for Ruby Lee Minar, Inc.; a copy of John’s death certificate; and the paperwork with official seals recording Ruby Lee’s death abroad. There is also a 1930s play bill from a production of “Private Lives” at the Barter Theater in Abingdon in Arlington County. The collection contains material in English, German, French, Danish, and Polish.