- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Cheval Force says she cannot document the story, that it is "folklore" in the Silver Spring community of Sligo Park Hills where she lives.

Ms. Force owns one of three stone houses in a row on Hilltop Road, each a custom Cape Cod. As the story goes, they were built in 1939 by three brothers, all stone masons from Italy who worked on the National Cathedral.

The owner of Ms. Force's house sold it to a family named Horowitz. Ms. Force, who bought it about 16 years ago, is the third owner. Longtime residents of the neighborhood remember the Horowitz family. One told Ms. Force recently that Mrs. Horowitz, who died years ago, would approve of the work she has done on the house.

The house is in wonderful condition, inside and out.

She wouldn't part with it if she weren't getting married, Ms. Force says, but her husband-to-be "has a great house, too," in Northern Virginia. So she is selling her house and moving to his.

The house went on the market just a week ago, for $495,000.

Most recently, Ms. Force had all the oak floors refinished to a beautiful glowing shine. Most of the floors on the first and second floor are oak, including the kitchen floor. To refinish that floor, Ms. Force says she had to strip away a layer of "old asphalt linoleum."

The staircase, with classic banister, also is oak. Ms. Force also had the whole house painted recently. It has plaster walls throughout, now all cheerfully white.

Among the unique features of the house is the living room fireplace, which an architect told her "came from an older house in D.C.," she says. "It is soapstone that's been painted so it's faux marble."

Also unique are the two-tone cherry kitchen cabinets, in a beautifully sculpted design with graceful floral brass handles. Some of the cabinets form a room divider between the kitchen and dining room. Those cabinets open on both sides.

The kitchen counters are white.

The house has four bedrooms and two full baths. The master bedroom and a second bedroom are on the first floor with a bathroom between them. If a new owner did not need all four bedrooms, the two first-floor bedrooms with the bathroom could form a great big master bedroom suite, with the smaller bedroom serving as a sitting room or TV room.

Besides the kitchen and spacious living room, there is a dining room and an office or den with lots of windows on the first-floor. Ms. Force uses it as an office, her desk facing the windows so that she can "watch people go by" and see when the FedEx truck pulls up with a delivery, she says.

"It's very sunny in the morning," she adds.

There are ceiling fan-light fixtures in the kitchen, dining room and master bedroom.

Arched doorways connect the living room and dining room. Similar arches can be found between the living room and the first-floor bedroom wing.

On the second floor are two bedrooms, one with a playroom attached, and a large hall bath. Each bedroom has a closet, and there is a door from the bath to a walk-in closet the size of a small room.

Both bathroom floors are tile, and there is tiling on the walls of both.

The basement level of the house has two rooms, the smaller occupied by a laundry room and the larger a possible game room or recreation room. It has a door to the attached garage.

The two basement windows are made of glass blocks, as are the two windows in the garage. Glass-block windows let in light but also provide security and energy efficiency, Ms. Force says.

Of all the features the house offers, perhaps the most inviting is the covered front porch with a stone floor. It has plenty of space for a light lunch and maybe a leisurely game of Scrabble on a late summer weekend.

There is also a rooftop terrace over the garage, accessible from the front porch, a door from the kitchen, and the back yard. In the back yard is a stone patio, accessible through French doors from the living room.

Perennial gardens surround the house. Ms. Force has planted crape myrtles, hydrangeas, butterfly bushes, peonies, hostas, black-eyed Susans, day lilies, hibiscus, hollyhocks, astilbes, hardy begonias, epimedium, bee balm, Japanese anemone, three kinds of ferns and other plants.

The house has a screening of tall Leyland cypress along the rear property line, and a screening of bamboo along one of the side property lines. There is a large oak tree in the front yard.

A major selling point of the property is its inside-the-Beltway location in a quiet residential neighborhood just a mile from shopping in downtown Silver Spring. It is within a mile or two of the Beltway interchange with Georgia Avenue and both the Silver Spring and Takoma Park Metro stations.

There is a Metrobus stop on the corner, merely steps away from the house, with service to the Metro stations.

The neighborhood, with narrow streets and mature shade trees, is just one block west of the Takoma Park line, near the intersection of Sligo Avenue and Piney Branch Road.

Details

Address: 3 Hilltop Road, Silver Spring, Md., 20910

Community: Sligo Park Hills

Age: Built 1939

Price: $495,000

Size: About 3,590 square feet on lot of 6,868 square feet.

Taxes: $2,660

Exterior features: Stone Cape Cod with slate roof, covered front porch, two-car attached garage, terrace, patio, stone garden walls, perennial gardens

Interior features: Living room, dining room, kitchen, first-floor office or den, four bedrooms, two full baths, second-floor playroom, lower-level game room, lower-level laundry, gas hot water and heat, electric central air conditioning

Amenities: Fireplace, oak floors, French doors, cherry kitchen cabinets, three ceiling fan-light fixtures, glass block windows in basement and garage

Schools: East Silver Spring Elementary (K-3), Piney Branch Elementary (4-5), Takoma Park Middle, Montgomery Blair High

Close by: One to two miles to shopping in downtown Silver Spring, about two miles to Beltway at Georgia Avenue interchange, within one mile of both Silver Spring and Takoma Park Metro stations

Open house: By appointment

Contact: Patricia Vucich of RE/MAX Capital Realtors, 202/363-9800 or 301/445-4676.


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