Grzegorz Peszko, an economist at the World Bank, said that when he and his wife, Agata, moved to the Washington area from what he called an “urban jungle” in London, they were looking for something decidedly different.
“It has always been my dream to live in the woods, so when our Realtor brought us here, we looked at the yard and house and forest and fell in love immediately,” said Peszko, referring to his new home in Arlington County’s Woodmont neighborhood.
Woodmont is a small residential community — just over a quarter of a square mile — minutes from Georgetown across the Key Bridge.
The surrounding highways and steep hills “make the community feel secluded and isolated,” said Michael McDonald, who grew up in the house his parents built in 1966, left for some years and returned in 2000. Today he is the treasurer of the Woodmont Civic Association. “One of things that impressed me as a kid was the quiet, but also that it’s only five minutes from the capital of the free world.”
The neighborhood is as woodsy as its name might suggest, with abundant trees forming natural privacy walls between houses. On a bright wintry afternoon, tall spruces and evergreen magnolias stood out amid bare deciduous trees as a runner in an orange sweater swept by.
Neighbors add on: Houses in Woodmont represent an eclectic collection of architectural styles — older brick ramblers, traditional two-story Colonials, cottages, craftsman-style houses and large contemporaries. The Peszko house is a sprawling low-rise gray contemporary situated down a long driveway deep in the seclusion of tall trees. “The setting is magical and very private,” said Agata, an interior designer.
Houses with additions are popular, and many new homes are under construction. It’s common for builders to tear down an old house, bulldoze trees on the lot, and replace it with one or even two homes.
“It’s an older neighborhood that has turned over, and there are lots of knock-downs,” said Richard McNamara, a resident since 1978 and president of the Woodmont Civic Association.
“My home evolved as my family did. We went from a couple to a family with four kids and then in-laws. Because it’s so convenient to live here, people grow their house by remodeling and adding on,” he said.
Bob Kenney, a resident since 2011 and vice president of the civic association, said, “Our home was a typical Arlington brick rambler, and two years ago we popped the roof and turned it into a craftsman.”
Do neighbors object to the development? “As long as builders follow the county rules, residents don’t get a vote,” McNamara said.
Wildlife and shopping near: Nature is an amenity relished by all. Agata Peszko said her back yard is like a zoo, with deer, foxes and raccoons. Ron Bentley, a 35-year resident, has seen wild turkey and a bald eagle. And many hiking trails are readily accessible.
The 19-acre Fort C.F. Smith Park — a Union fort built on farmland in 1863 — is a treasured space. There’s grass for summer picnics, fields to run through, plants with tags identifying botanical names and a community house for get-togethers. McDonald remembers playing ball in the wide-open space.
Christine Werner, a 15-year resident, said every need is serviced close by. Lyon Village on Lee Highway has a Giant Food supermarket, Big Wheel Bikes, a CVS, a Starbucks and “a local landmark” in the Italian Store, said Bentley. A Safeway and Cherrydale Hardware, a longtime independent neighborhood fixture, are nearby. Clarendon, a trendy commercial area, has lots of shops and restaurants.
Living there: Forming Woodmont’s irregular borders are Nelly Custis Drive, Windy Run and the George Washington Memorial Parkway on the north, Spout Run Parkway and Lorcom Lane on the south, and Military Road on the west. The neighborhood is made up primarily of single-family homes.
According to real estate agent Stanton Schnepp of Marriott + Schnepp with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, three properties are now for sale. They range in price from $1.098 million for a five-bedroom, 31 / 2-bathroom house to $1.895 million for a home with five bedrooms and 41 / 2 bathrooms. No properties are under contract. Nine homes sold over the past year, ranging from $732,000 for four bedrooms and 21 / 2 bathrooms to $2.26 million for five bedrooms, four full bathrooms and two half baths.
Getting around: Proximity to downtown Washington is a prime attraction. “To be able to stand in our back yard and know we’re a stone’s throw away from Washington is pretty amazing,” Kenney said. “Downtown is a three-to-four-minute drive, and it’s seven minutes to the airport.” Interstate 66 and Interstate 395 are close, too.
“We love to say, ‘You can get home from the Kennedy Center in five minutes,’ ” McDonald added.
Metrobuses (the 3AB and 3Y routes) run downtown. Arlington Transit supplements the Metrobus service and provides connections to Metrorail (Clarendon, on the Orange Line, is the closest station).
Schools: Taylor Elementary, Williamsburg and Swanson middle schools, and Yorktown and Washington-Lee high schools.
Crime: No major crimes were reported in the past year, according to the Arlington County Police Department.
Audrey Hoffer is a freelance writer.