No, I’m not talking about 18th century houses which we don’t have a whole lot of here. (There have been too many termites, fires and riots in the Nation’s Capital.) Nor am I talking about the type of house we have more than enough of—probably 90 percent if you believe the realtors’ classification in the MLS--: the brick “Colonial.” (When in doubt, it’s always a Colonial.)
I’m talking about an amazingly beautiful NW Washington DC neighborhood that many of the city’s inhabitants west of Rock Creek Park have barely heard of: the original part of the "Colonial Village" near the northern tip of the DC square that gave the whole neighborhood its current name.
It’s a 80-year old kind of subdivision that is almost entirely nestled in Rock Creek Park. The streets all have names like “Yorktown” or “Plymouth,” and they are unusually wide with circles and central green spots for neighborhood gatherings. All the original homes here, about 90 or so, were perfect replicas of (rather stately) “Authentic Colonial Dwellings,” and “true in character to the period of the Original Thirteen Colonies,” as the April, 1935 Washington Post ad here testifies. True reproductions, except for one thing: “present-day living conveniences” such as “modern gas appliances,” plumbing and electrical power.
I found this old ad after I helped a young couple buy this very place a couple of years ago. It had been owned by the same family for decades, and even though it was well maintained, some of the “modern” amenities were actually original. (The inspector had a ball with the 75-year-old heating system and the half dozen fuses on the power panel.)
The twin neighborhoods of Colonial Village and Shepherd Park themselves are a well-kept secret for DC buyers. The turnover here is relatively low; prices are lower than in other established neighborhoods; downtown Silver Spring, Maryland is a walk away, the White House is a straight zip down 16th St, and there are many other things great about it. However, people don’t easily stumble across the neighborhood. It’s out of the way for visitors, it’s surrounded by the Park, Maryland, and Walter Reed Hospital on three sides, and there are no urban businesses such as cafes or stores whatsoever (the zoning doesn’t allow them).
Thus, in my experience, buyers who want to move here usually already know someone who lives in the neighborhood and, even better, they are already convinced of its greatness and want to live here and nowhere else. The grand views of the original “Colonial Village,” however, often even stun those determined buyers.
© 2012, Catarina Bannier