“Our neighborhood consists of a variety of styles of architecture — Colonial, Cape Cod, Tudor — rather than just one type of design, which is unique,” said Tracy Jacobs, who has served as vice president and president of the neighborhood’s civic association.
Individuality in exterior decorating choices is hardly discouraged in North Hills. Moreover, despite its proximity to bustling, modern Colesville Road and the Beltway, the neighborhood gives residents a feeling of stepping back into a quieter time.
North Hills sits next to a wooded 440-acre section of Sligo Creek Stream Valley Park, and according to resident Sally Gagné’s 2003 book “North Hills of Sligo Creek,” 355 homes fill the 150 acres of the community. The Brunett house, the original home of the neighborhood, was built as a farmhouse in the Civil War era. Renovated in 1939 to become the columned Georgian-style home it is now, it rests on one of the neighborhood’s higher hills.
Subsequent building came in spurts throughout the 1930s and 1940s, with houses added and renovated. Because North Hills developed gradually, a wide variety of housing style, including Colonials, bungalows, and midcentury moderns and Tudor homes, line the roads. On one street, twin 1939 Cape Cods built by the Public Works Administration mirror each other. Gagné’s book notes the lack of Craftsman-style houses, which are found in downtown Silver Spring but had lost traction by 1930.
Beltway construction in 1961 affected the community, Gagné writes, because those who lived in the highway’s path had to sell their houses to the state. Some, she reports, were bulldozed, while others were burned to give the fire department some practice extinguishing blazes. Then as now, access to the Beltway provided commuters with routes to work. Also, there are Metrobus and Ride-On stops on Colesville Road; the Silver Spring Metro station is a little more than a mile away.
Newman has lived in North Hills for 15 years. She and her husband moved there from California while both were active-
duty Marines transferred to the Pentagon.
“You can drive into the neighborhood and forget how close-in you are with the old-growth trees and established homes,” Newman said. “I grew up in a New England town of older homes, with close neighbors. We were drawn to the aesthetics of the neighborhood,” she added, because it has “the same ‘vibe’ with which I grew up, as well as the location.”
Other residents embrace North Hills’ access to nature. “What we did not realize,” said Annemarie Mott Ewing, who has lived in the neighborhood for four years, “was how much we’d fall in love with the bike path along Sligo Creek.”