Although she has lived in the District since 2002, Daniella Gibbs Leger had never heard of Woodridge before moving to the neighborhood, which borders Maryland’s Prince George’s County.
Leger, 36, and her husband, Matthew, 38, thought Northern Virginia was the only place they’d be able to become homeowners and kiss their Capitol Hill rent goodbye without breaking their bank accounts. But one day her real estate agent took her to an unfamiliar Northeast neighborhood — driving her through the bungalows, farmhouses and Colonial-style homes that blanket the community’s rolling hills and tree-lined streets.
“I couldn’t believe these cute detached homes with yards and porches and well-manicured lawns and gardens. It wasn’t anything I was expecting to see in that neighborhood,” said Leger, a nonprofit executive who now grows tomatoes in the yard of their three-bedroom Woodridge house.
“I love the fact that it’s like living in the suburbs but you get the convenience of living in the city,” she said.
The suburban vibe in many parts of the community harks back to its emergence as subdivision in the early 1900s.
It remained a region of woodlands and farms even as downtown Washington began to develop. The tree-filled hills and ridges — perhaps the inspiration for the community’s name — had made it the ideal place for two forts to defend the nation’s capital during the Civil War.
The name of one street in Woodridge, Mills Avenue, pays homage to the home and studio of Clark Mills, the the early-1800s sculptor of the equestrian statues of George Washington in Washington Circle and Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square
It wasn’t until the 1930s that the neighborhood acquired its current borders: Eastern Avenue, Michigan Avenue, 18th Street, New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road.
Desegregation laws attracted an influx of African Americans to the neighborhood after World War II. Their children, many of whom are now retired government employees, make up a sizable portion of the current population.
In the late 1990s, the coffeehouse-going, cellphone-toting, dog-walking set rushed into neighboring Brookland — but not as quickly to Woodridge.
“The Woodridge train hasn’t quite taken off,” said real estate agent Lindsay Dreyer, owner of City Chic Real Estate. “People love the houses, but the location isn’t ideal for them,” she said, because the nearest grocery store and Metro station are at least two miles away.
But some are willing to make the sacrifice, she added, because of Woodridge’s greatest attraction for prospective buyers: affordability.