Neighborhood Profile: Colonial Village in Northwest Washington

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Throughout the year, elegant settlers and hikers, with their classic, red-brick and masonry details, adorn Colonial Village in Northwest Washington. But each May, these homes – many of which date back to the 1930s and 1940s – reveal their finest secrets on a self-guided tour of the garden. For some neighbors, it’s a highlight of the year.

“Sometimes from the front of the house, you never know,” neighborhood resident John Goodloe Jr. said of the hidden landscaping and pollinator gardens revealed by the tour. “What makes it really special is that even a house that you think is like any other house, when you have the chance to walk into it, you realize it’s something unique.”

Goodloe, 45, grew up in Petworth but attended Shepherd Elementary and fell in love with the neighborhood’s youth. He and his wife moved to nearby Shepherd Park in 2005 before buying their home in Colonial Village in 2019; their 14-year-old daughter just graduated eighth grade at Deal Middle School.

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Colonial Village is a hidden green gem on the northern tip of Washington, bordered on almost all sides by the lush, verdant nature of Rock Creek Park. On park-facing streets, like Parkside Drive NW and Portal Drive NW, homeowners tend to take full advantage of the view with prominent floor-to-ceiling windows. Shaped like a butterfly, the neighborhood includes some 400 homes bounded on the east by 16th Street NW and on the west by the park and the DC-Maryland border.

According to the Shepherd Park Citizens Association, the neighborhood organization that supports both Colonial Village and Shepherd Park, Colonial Village’s story began in 1930, when a developer, the Edson W. Briggs Company, began building replicas of historic American colonial homes. The first was a reproduction of the house in Yorktown, Virginia, where George Washington accepted England’s surrender to end the Revolutionary War in 1781.

As the neighborhood took shape in the decade that followed, it also became part of a darker story: the exclusion of blacks and Jews from property. Goodloe, who is black, discovered the original covenant of his 1939 home earlier this year when he viewed the deed. Racial restrictions on homeownership were struck down by the Supreme Court in 1948, and the diversity that has flourished in the neighborhood since then is all the more significant in light of the ugly past.

“I fell in love with the forequarter,” said Goodloe. “But then recognizing that transformation and our part in it made me appreciate our place and our space even more.”

Colonial Village sees little annual revenue. Brenda Mejia, a Compass agent who moved to Shepherd Park in 2013 and has been selling homes in the Colonial Village since 2017, said just 11 homes have sold in the neighborhood this year, ranging from $2.8 million to a five-bedroom, 5,400-square-foot residence updated on one level with a cobblestone frontage at $985,000 for a three-bedroom on 16th Street. No homes are currently on the market, she said.

Beyond a limited inventory, low name recognition makes the neighborhood feel like a hidden gem.

“A lot of people don’t even know about this area, because it’s a bit off the beaten track. And there is no metro, there are no signs when you pass by,” she said. “So people have grown up here and come back, we have a lot. Or they learn it from a friend or their real estate agent. I’m thinking mostly word of mouth – that’s my impression of how people find their way here.

Kate Snyder, 48, who moved to Colonial Village with her husband, Seth, in 2014, said their 7-year-old loves the walks and bike rides in Rock Creek Park. Closeness to nature, she said, has become even more valuable during times of pandemic isolation.

“This is the first time in my adult life that I have windows on all four sides of my house; it’s good. And it made covid so much more bearable, to be able to have space in my garden to sit down,” she said. “It’s a really nice neighborhood to raise kids and start a family.”

The area is entirely residential, with no commercial area. But residents say Silver Spring, a short walk west, offers the benefits of a nearby city center. Parkway Deli and Restaurant, just across the border in Maryland, is a particularly popular place to grab a bite to eat. Most are also looking forward to a major redevelopment of the historic Walter Reed campus just east of 16th Street. This project, which is expected to be completed in 2023, will include a row of new retail options anchored by Whole Foods.

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Ed Atkins, 77, who has lived in Colonial Village since 1996, said he had followed this development while serving on the board of the Shepherd Park Citizens Association and was excited about the added value it would bring. will bring to the region. Atkins said another favorite spot nearby is the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring, which shows a mix of classic films and new releases.

But for him too, the biggest local attraction is the park.

“I walk around and observe nature, the changing seasons,” he said. “And I think that just brings me a sense of peace.”

Schools: Shepherd Elementary, Deal Middle, Jackson-Reed High

Transit: The D31 and S9 bus routes have stops along 16th Street NW; the nearest subway station is Takoma on the Red Line, 1.5 miles outside the neighborhood boundary to the southeast.

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