Neighborhood profile: Shouse Village

A village environment with country-club-style amenities — that’s how residents of Shouse Village describe their 260-home neighborhood.

Its hub is a community center offering yoga, art and other classes, book and bridge clubs, holiday parties, and happy hours. There are tennis and basketball courts, a pool and playground, a pond for fishing, and paved trails winding through the woods for biking and walking.

(Gene Thorp/The Washington Post) - Shouse Village map, Fairfax County, Virginia

And then there are the occasional complimentary tickets to shows at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, just down the road.

“It’s best put that we feel like we live in Pleasantville, without the negative connotations of that,” said 12-year resident Andrea Vavonese. She and her husband, Dan, moved there from a community “so transient we wouldn’t know, day to day, who our next-door neighbors would be.”

Not so at Shouse Village. “When we were first looking here, a loose dog was running around. Three neighbors came out to check, and not only knew the dog’s owner, they knew the name of the dog,” Vavonese said.

The couple, both lawyers, said they felt welcomed immediately. “Our first weekend, we walked down to the pool and knew no one,” Dan Vavonese said. “By the end of the night we felt at home.”

The perception of Shouse Village as a place where everyone seems to know — and often socialize with — their neighbors, paired with a modest $623 annual association fee for its many community amenities, makes it a popular place. “I have a list of people who want to live here,” said Paula Stewart, a Weichert Realtors agent and neighborhood resident since 2009. “Over the past 12 months, median time on the market was 14 days.”

Stewart and her husband, David, actively sought a Colonial in Shouse Village for three years before moving in. “We loved the community feel and location, and the wide, cherry-tree-lined streets with sidewalks on both sides.”

Shouse Village’s canopied streets are cul-de-sacs off two circular boulevards, virtually all with musical monikers such as Tuba Court, Chopin Street and Claves Court — a nod to nearby Wolf Trap. The neighborhood was named after Wolf Trap founder Catherine Filene Shouse. The community, developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, offers Colonials, ramblers and split-levels, originally ranging from 2,300 to 3,900 square feet, on lots of about a third of an acre.

The volunteer-run HOA, the Shouse Village Community Association, is headed by insurance broker and three-year resident Karen Dobson. When she and her family first moved in, they were concerned about not being able to walk to shops and restaurants the way they had in their former neighborhood.

“It was an adjustment,” Dobson said. “At first, I said, ‘Oh, no, I have to drive!’ But a benefit is that my kids can play in a stream — there’s a rope over a creek off a walking trail that everyone uses. We’re three miles from Tysons Corner, but it feels like we live in the woods.”

Another benefit is the community’s relationship with Wolf Trap, said Dobson. “Wolf Trap is a fantastic community friend. When shows aren’t sold out . . . residents are alerted to check their e-mails for [opportunities to get] free tickets from Wolf Trap.”

The Vavoneses and their daughters, ages 7 and 11, enjoy that perk. “Free tickets are often to things like an opera or ballet,” said Andrea Vavonese. “We’ve taken the kids to things we never would have otherwise.” Depending on the weather and concert, they also occasionally hear music from their back yard.

The neighborhood has addressed traffic-calming issues, mainly on Towlston Road leading into Wolf Trap, and dredging its pond of excess muck. “The whole community learned a lot about goose migration with that issue,” Dobson said, laughing. Current concerns include the impact of the Dulles Toll Road and Metro’s new Silver Line on neighborhood noise and traffic.

Cathy Sribar returned to Shouse Village, where she lived as a teen and her parents still reside, in 2003. “It’s a village where other parents correct your kids,” she said. “I didn’t like that as a kid, but I like it as a mom.”

Also important to Sribar: “You get a pool when you buy your home here.” This year, 117 kids were on the swim team, and many Shouse Village teens have been pool lifeguards, an experience Sribar calls “a rite of passage here.”

The neighborhood’s allure for young families is apparent, but nearly half its residents are empty-nesters or retirees, said Dobson. Her son, Christopher, 17, likes the mix: “I do yardwork for an older neighbor. He taught me about using a lawn mower.”

Sandy Underhill and her husband, Sam, a retired Navy officer, moved to Shouse Village in 1975 to raise their children, and don’t plan to leave anytime soon. Some things have changed in 37 years. Underhill no longer sees cattle and ground hogs across Route 7 from Shouse Village; that farmland also was developed. The monthly newsletter is now online, along with a community Web site and Facebook page, and the gourmet lunch club that Underhill once enjoyed has disbanded.

Much remains the same, though. The original farmhouse sitting on land from which Shouse Village was built — once owned by the assistant attorney general under President Franklin Roosevelt and reportedly visited by Harry S. Truman when he was vice president — remains; its current owner lets Shouse Village kids use his water and hillside property for a sliding pad during special events.

Cherry trees still line Shouse Village’s streets. “When the cherry trees bloom . . . you can look down and barely see the end of our cul-de-sac because of the blossoms,” Sam Underhill noted. And the annual cul-de-sac party tradition that the Underhills started in the mid-1970s continues.

Andrea Vavonese said she also is at Shouse Village for the long term: “Although the houses aren’t new and they aren’t huge, if I had all the money in the world I wouldn’t move.”

Cheryl A. Kenny is a freelance writer.

ZIP CODE: 22182

BOUNDARIES: Roughly, Dulles Toll Road (Route 267) on the south, and Shouse Drive plus homes along Towlston Road up to Route 7 on the north; Towlston Road on the east, and the intersection of Tuba Court and Laurlin Court on the west.

SCHOOLS: Colvin Run Elementary, Longfellow Middle and McLean High.

HOME SALES: Between September 2011 and September 2012, 12 homes sold, at prices ranging from $595,000 to $800,000, according to Paula Stewart, an agent with Weichert Realtors. One home is under contract for $774,900. Two houses are listed, for $760,000 and $779,900.

WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE: Community center with pool, basketball and tennis courts; pond; walking and biking trails; Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Colvin Run Elementary School.

WITHIN 15 MINUTES BY CAR: Tysons Corner and Reston Town Center shopping areas, downtown Vienna, Dulles Toll Road, Dulles International Airport.

TRANSIT: The Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station is about six miles from Shouse Village. The Silver Line’s Tysons West station, scheduled to open in 2013, is less than three miles away. The Fairfax Connector bus to the Tysons transit station stops at the entrance to the community. The community also has an organized carpool into Washington.

 
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