When Becky Lavash moved into her brick Cape Cod home in Silver Spring’s Highland View neighborhood in 1998, she jokingly asked her new next-door neighbor whether the house came with access to that neighbor’s private pool.
The next day, the neighbor knocked on Lavash’s door and invited her to dinner. The next summer, she invited Lavash to use the pool: just one of many acts of neighborliness Lavash has experienced since moving in.
“I can count all of my neighbors as friends,” said the 53-year-old software product manager. “We all have each other’s keys for emergencies and do cat and dog coverage on vacations. If had gone looking for a house specifically for the neighbors, I couldn’t have found a better place.”
That strong sense of community, along with proximity to downtown Silver Spring and relatively affordable 1930s- and 1940s-era houses, draws many residents to Highland View, located just south of the Capital Beltway in Silver Spring.
Donna Kerr, 45, an agent with the Pure Energy Real Estate Team, said the brick Colonials and Cape Cods that dominate the neighborhood’s housing stock are affordable for many families. “You don’t have to be a CEO to be able to live here,” said Kerr, who called Highland View home from 1998 to 2006 and now lives in an adjacent neighborhood.
Rose Crenca, 85, a former Montgomery County Council member who has lived in Highland View since 1949, said many of the neighborhood’s original residents still live there. She said the neighborhood is, and always has been, diverse in age, income and ethnicity.
“The range of incomes and backgrounds is tremendous, and if you look at a roster of last names in the neighborhood, you can see just how racially and ethnically integrated it is,” Crenca said. “There are a lot of people in my age bracket still around, but a lot of young people have moved in, too. It’s a good mix. If you want a homogenous community, this isn’t it.”
Residents gather at a few annual events sponsored by the Sligo-Branview Community Association, which represents Highland View and a few other neighborhoods nearby. The Halloween parade is the biggest and best-attended, Kerr said.
“All the little kids dress up and parade through the street, and the community association provides coffee and cider for grown-ups,” Kerr said. “It’s been going on for years, and it just keeps growing.”
Residents said they also enjoy living within walking distance of several parks, a Giant Food store and restaurants on Flower Avenue such as El Golfo, a Latin American spot that’s a favorite of Linda and Hans Krimm, who have lived in Highland View for 12 years.
“It has cloth tablecloths and napkins, friendly service, delicious food and margaritas, and jazz on Wednesday nights,” said Linda Krimm, 50, a nurse. “And it supports the community and all the surrounding schools.”
Linda Krimm, whose daughters are ages 10 and 12, also touted the area’s public schools, saying they have “served our children’s academic and social needs very, very well.”
The neighborhood sits just inside the Capital Beltway, which many residents said is a major bonus.
“We’re close enough to the Beltway that we can get there easily, but far enough that we don’t hear it,” said Hans Krimm, 50, a scientist, who said he also appreciates the neighborhood’s proximity to Silver Spring: “It’s great being just a few minutes away driving or 20 minutes away walking from amenities like the AFI theater or the [Silver Spring] farmers market.”
The neighborhood isn’t within easy walking distance of a Metro stop now, but that might change if the Purple Line, the east-west rail line that would run between New Carrollton and Bethesda, is built. Most residents seem to be either supportive of or indifferent to plans for the new Metro line, as current plans call for the section near Highland View to be built underground.
“I know other neighborhoods have great concern about the Purple Line, but it doesn’t seem to be a particularly controversial proposal here,” Becky Lavash said.
Some residents complain about drivers speeding on Flower Avenue, a state road, saying it’s a safety concern because pedestrians frequently walk along and cross the road.
Most of Highland View’s 600 houses are 1,400 to 1,500 square feet in size, not counting the basement. That’s too small for some families, forcing them to choose whether to move out of the neighborhood to find a bigger house or to build an addition as they grow.
“Closet space is maybe the one thing people complain about,” Kerr said.
For many families, though, the charms of the neighborhood outweigh the houses’ lack of extra space.
“We recently finished a major renovation, and we did it so we can stay here for the long haul,” Linda Krimm said. “We’ve been here about 12 years, and we plan to be here another 30.”
Amy Reinink is a freelance writer.