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Tradition Remains Solid In Bethesda Neighborhood

By Janet Lubman Rathner
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page G01

For 69 years, the two-story stone and timbered stucco cottage looked down from a knoll onto the Bethesda neighborhood of Woodhaven.

The house still stands, but now it's about 40 feet away, around the corner from its original site on Woodhaven Boulevard.


Susan Prutting and her sons Jack, 9, and Scott, 6, moved to Woodhaven in 2002. Their house, built in 1940, is one of the original Tudors. (Photos Dennis Drenner For The Washington Post)

WOODHAVEN

BOUNDARIES: Woodhaven Boulevard to the north, Wilson Lane to the south, Bradley Boulevard to the east, Springer Road to the west.

SCHOOLS: Burning Tree Elementary, Thomas W. Pyle Middle and Walt Whitman High schools.

HOME SALES: Eight houses sold in the past 12 months at prices from $635,000 to $1.3 million, said Jane Weissman, a real estate agent with Long & Foster Realtors Potomac Village Office. One house is under contract that listed for $949,000. One house is on the market for $895,000.

WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE: Burning Tree Elementary, Thomas W. Pyle Middle, Walt Whitman High, Ride-On Bus

WITHIN 10-15 MINUTES BY CAR: Downtown Bethesda, Suburban Hospital, Westfield Shoppingtown Montgomery, Cabin John Regional Park.

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"We rotated it on one corner. We twisted it and walked it across the lot," said developer Scott Stinson. Stinson bought the house for $1.1 million in 2003 with plans to tear it down and build two new Tudor-style homes on the lot of about 15,000 square feet.

The relocation of the house, which occurred in January, is a compromise between Stinson's plan and the wishes of some Woodhaven homeowners, who did not want to see the house demolished. Now, instead of two new houses, Stinson will build one and enlarge and update the other.

"The majority who cared would rather see it saved and turned than knocked down and lose an original Woodhaven house," said Jacqueline Sincore, whose 1936 Colonial Revival, one of Woodhaven's earliest residences, is next door to the relocated house.

Some Woodhaven residents regard the relocation as a victory in their efforts to preserve their neighborhood. It is a fight similar to that going on in many other older neighborhoods in the Washington area. In Woodhaven, it is just the latest in a decades-long series of preservation attempts.

Woodhaven, off Bradley Boulevard near downtown Bethesda, was developed over 18 years beginning in 1936 by architect Philip Dein, a New York transplant who named the subdivision for the Long Island community from which he had come. Dein became a Woodhaven resident himself, living in three houses in the neighborhood before his death in 1962.

The stone and stucco cottage that until this year was at 8501 Woodhaven Boulevard was among the first of what eventually became about 56 Tudor and Colonial Revival dwellings. The houses came with conveniences designed to appeal to an up-and-coming middle class: a servant's quarters in the basement (with changing room, shower and toilet), a breakfast nook off the kitchen, two stone fireplaces and, to combat the sweltering temperatures of pre-air-conditioning summers, sleeping porches and whole-house fans. Attached garages acknowledged the growing prominence of car ownership.

Woodhaven today has grown to 127 homes, including some 1960s-era split-levels, ramblers and Colonials that were not built by Dein.

The neighborhood "is steeped in tradition, and that says a lot for continuity and a sense of community," said Susan Prutting, 40, who moved with her family from Washington to Woodhaven in 2002. Their house, built in 1940, is one of the original Tudors.

"I love the stone construction," Prutting said. "These houses are solid."

Sincore, 42, and her family moved to Woodhaven nine years ago.

"What attracted us, what almost everyone will say, is it's the charm, the trees and the stone walls. There is loads of curb appeal," Sincore said.

There is also long-standing resolve to preserve and protect what is there.


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