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It was exciting to see all the comments to Amanda Abrams recent post on mid-century modern neighborhoods in our area. The passion displayed in the comments is good and will go a long way in helping to preserve the area’s mid-century modern architecture and neighborhoods that dot the landscape among the more traditional architecture of the pre-World War II period or more recent McMansions.
While the D.C. area may be overlooked when speaking of major concentration’s of mid-century modern architecture, the major expansion in the federal government during and after World War II led to explosion of housing in the area. With a more contemporary-style architecture coming into vogue, Washington—long seen as a more traditional town—was not immune from this trend.
I like to say that Washington has three categories of mid-century architecture. There are custom mid-century modern homes throughout the area, including designs by internationally and locally recognized architects.These are typically located in nicely wooded areas—think places like McLean, Bethesda and the Forest Hills neighborhood in the city—to take advantage of large expanses of glass and the blending of outside and inside spaces, which are key hallmarks of mid-century modern architecture.
The second type are communities built and designed by a builder-architect team that sought to create a cohesive neighborhood based on a few basic designs. Five of our local neighborhoods have been added to the National Register of Historic Places for their architecture: In Maryland, Carderock Springs, Hammond Wood, Rock Creek Woods and five Charles Goodman-designed homes in Takoma Park and Homes Run Acres in Falls Church. Others in this category include Hollin Hills (which is working on its National Register designation), Pine Spring, Raymondale, Wessynton, Truro and Hickory Cluster in Virginia; New Mark Commons, Potomac Overlook, Flint Hill, Bradley Park and Charred Oak Estates in Maryland; and the Southwest D.C. waterfront area.
Many other neighborhoods have high concentrations of mid-century modern homes that were done by various architects and builders, providing a larger spectrum of styles. To name a few: Kenwood Park, Mohican Hills, Rollingwood, Dunlop Hills and Hollinridge in Maryland; Lake Barcroft, Mantua and Braewood in Virginia; and Hawthorne and Crestwood in DC.
Lastly, the area is also packed with many neighborhoods—stretching from Kemp Mill in Silver Spring to Michigan Park in DC to Stratford Landing south of Alexandria—that have homes that are not classic mid-century modern but do feature “atomic ranch”-style houses that are more open and more modern than your traditional architectural styles.
The good news is that if you are obsessed with mid-century design, you are not doomed to live in a traditional abode. There are all kinds of homes in our area to suit your modernist tastes and your budget.
What are your favorite mid-century modern communities and why?
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Michael Shapiro is a realtor with Long & Foster and founder of the web site Modern Capital.
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