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Cover story: Old homes, communities draw buyers
Question of the Day
Like many communities, Edgewood boasts an active civic association that helps build community cohesion. (Mr. Palmer is treasurer, and his wife is recording secretary.) And thanks to Mr. Henderson, there’s also a website celebrating the neighborhood. There even are weekly walks along the old Metropolitan Branch rail trail.
“We want to get people involved,” Mr. Henderson says. “That’s how you get to make a good community great.”
“I never heard of Petworth prior to moving in,” says Dan Silverman, the “self-proclaimed and ordained … Prince of Petworth,” who runs the Prince of Petworth blog (www.princeofpetworth. com). “I ended up with a great house.”
Located just south of Brightwood around Georgia Avenue and Upshur, where the 1939 Petworth library is in the midst of extensive renovations, Petworth began as one of the city’s first suburbs in 1889, when developers B.H. Warder, Brainard Warner and others carved out a section of the old Tayloe estate for the “summer cottages” that dot the neighborhood.
Of course, Mr. Silverman had a bit of work to do on his 1920s-era bungalow, putting on a new roof and refurbishing the bathroom. The expenditure was well worth it, he says.
“It’s a great neighborhood, close to Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan but a lot cheaper,” he says. “It’s not Georgetown or Cleveland Park, but it shouldn’t have to be. And when you come home at night and hear the crickets chirping and you’re right in the city, that’s something.”
- Mount Rainier
Friendly is definitely the way to describe Mount Rainier, Md., a tree-lined neighborhood of modest homes and apartments tucked away off Rhode Island Avenue just over the District line.
“People were instantly warm and welcoming,” says Brooke Kidd, executive director and founder of Joe’s Movement Emporium, who discovered Mount Rainier when her performing arts organization needed to relocate. “And I loved the housing stock.”
Today’s community of 1920s bungalows and Victorian cottages began as a working-class neighborhood in the late 19th century. New residents flocked in after 1897 with the arrival of the streetcar, which made it possible for city workers to live farther away from places of employment.
Back then, Mount Rainier was “the country.” Real estate advertisements from the period highlighted the rural aspects of the neighborhood, with frame houses and embellished porches striking a distinctive note that differentiated them from the brick row houses going up in the District. During the ‘20s and ‘30s, Mount Rainier grew rapidly, and by the World War II era, its single-family frame houses were accompanied by a couple of apartment complexes, complete with their own shopping centers. By the 1970s, though, the population of the always small neighborhood declined as new suburbs opened up farther away from the central city.
Today, Mount Rainier has positioned itself as home to a diverse population and a mecca for artists and arts organizations. It is part of the Gateway Arts District, a revitalization initiative that targets the development of arts-oriented businesses, important in an area where the median income hovers around $40,000. And specialty stores like Glut Food Co-op, a bike co-op and a host of artists studios mean it’s becoming bit of a destination.
The winding streets of Cheverly, Md., beckon a new generation of families drawn by affordable mid-20th-century homes and a sense of neighborliness that gives what should be “just a suburb” a homey, small-town feel.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By John McAfee
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