Burleith is a lesser-known corner of Northwest Washington that has its own charm

Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST - Streets in the Burleith neighborhood are lined with distinctive small rowhouses.

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Dwane Starlin, a longtime resident of Burleith who has led tours there the past five years, says his Northwest Washington neighborhood has a diverse cross section of residents — from retirees, to young families with children, to Georgetown University students.

But the neighborhood may not be ideal for everyone — it’s not for big families looking for humongous houses, or people with a low tolerance for high-decibel disturbances at night.

(Gene Thorp/The Washington Post)

“We do have a lot of college kids who live in the neighborhood, and they do have a habit of being a little nocturnal, and a little noisy at 2 a.m.,” said Starlin, who added that he knocks on a door or places a call to ask student-neighbors to quiet down roughly once or twice per month. Still, he says, relations between the students and neighbors are mostly good.

No McMansions: Starlin says many Washingtonians refer to his neighborhood as “Georgetown North.”

“I prefer ‘Upper Georgetown,’ ” joked Starlin, an actor, performer and licensed tour guide who has lived in Burleith since 1999.

Although many people know Burleith for its proximity to its more glamorous neighbor to the south, Starlin says there’s much more to Burleith than that reputation suggests.

“There are a lot of professional people from all walks of life who live here,” Starlin said. “I work at the National Museum of American History. There are several folks who work for the World Bank, the National Science Foundation, and quite a few government workers, too. We also have a lot of nice young couples living here — we’re seeing more and more strollers these days.”

Yet, he says, the neighborhood’s popularity among families with young children has its limits.

“I’ve noticed that once the youngsters exceed one or two, either in age or in number of kids, families tend to move out, because people feel like they need a little more space,” Starlin said. “That seems to be the only limitation, that the houses, overall, are not large. There are no McMansions here.”

Moderate but tasteful: Burleith was developed in 1923 by the real estate firm Shannon & Luchs, Starlin said. The 535 rowhouses built at that time sold for between $7,000 and $13,000, he said.

“That’s sometimes the monthly payments people make on their houses now,” said Starlin, who gave his age as “on the north side of 50.”

A 1926 pamphlet advertising the new development says its rowhouses were designed for “the buyer of moderate means, but of more than ordinary taste,” according to a history of Burleith written by Ann Lange.

Living there: Burleith’s borders are the Whitehaven Parkway to the north, 35th Street to the east, Reservoir Road to the south and 39th Street to the west.

In recent history, there has been very little turnover in the rowhouses, according to Lenore Rubino, an agent with Coldwell Banker. Rubino, a current neighborhood resident and former president of the Burleith Citizens Association, said 10 homes sold between August 2012 and August 2013, at prices ranging from $680,000 to $1.475 million. There are no homes on the market now, she said.

Burleith has two small apartment buildings, both of which have four to six apartments that rent for roughly $1,500 to $1,700 per month, Rubino said.

Schools: Georgetown is far from the only game in town, school-wise.

Perhaps most notably, Burleith is home to the Duke Ellington School for the Arts, whose alumni include comedian Dave Chappelle, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves and trumpet player Wallace Roney.

Also nearby is the Fillmore Arts Center, which offers art classes to students in nearby public elementary schools, and Washington International School’s primary school campus.

Neighborhood kids are zoned to attend Stoddert, Key or Hyde-Addison elementary; Hardy Middle; and Wilson High schools.

Hardy has its own famous alumna in Amy Carter, daughter of President Jimmy Carter, who “was there with a band of Secret Service agents when her dad was in the White House,” Starlin said.

Plenty to eat: Starlin said it’s true that one of the best parts of living in Burleith is that “it’s a nice little quiet residential area, but it’s a short walk down to Georgetown.”

That means proximity to dozens of shops and restaurants along Wisconsin Avenue. Starlin said he likes Bistro Lepic for French food and Cafe Divan for Turkish fare, both of which are an easy walk from most places in the neighborhood.

Also nearby is the “Social Safeway” on Wisconsin Avenue.

Transportation: The closest Metro station — Rosslyn (Blue and Orange lines), across the Key Bridge in Arlington County — is a mile and a half away. The Red Line’s Tenleytown and Dupont Circle stations are a bit farther.

“There’s no subway line here, but we have a lot of great buses that run up and down Wisconsin Avenue,” Starlin said.

What to do there: There are plenty of activities within the neighborhood’s boundaries. Glover-Archbold Park, whose trails lead to the C&O Canal, serves as part of the neighborhood’s northern border, and Burleith boasts several other smaller parks and playgrounds.

The Burleith Citizens Association sponsors a variety of events, including an annual picnic featuring a live band, kids’ activities, and food and refreshments from local businesses, Starlin said. It will hold a celebration this fall to mark the neighborhood’s 90th birthday, Starlin said.

There’s also a farmers market in the summer and a flea market at Hardy Middle School every Sunday.

“Burleith is close to the action, yet it’s quiet, which most people who live here seem to enjoy,” Starlin said.

Crime: In the past 12 months, there were seven burglaries, eight thefts, and four thefts from autos in Burleith, according to the D.C. police department.

Amy Reinink is a freelance writer.

 
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