Woodside Park, a leafy enclave of unique homes in Silver Spring

By Amy Reinink
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, August 7, 2010

Montgomery County historians have heralded Woodside Park, located just north of downtown Silver Spring, as "the most intact subdivision" of the 1920s and 1930s, and "the purest manifestation of the suburban ideal" in the area.

When Jennifer Pasenelli moved to the neighborhood 17 years ago, she liked the pretty, distinctive houses, the large lots they sat on and the loveliness of the mature trees and gardens surrounding them.

"With the big, beautiful trees and unique houses, it almost reminded me of Chevy Chase," said Pasenelli, 46, a homemaker and president of the Woodside Park Civic Association. "We just fell in love with it immediately."

Today, it's both the well-preserved history and the widely varied architecture that define Woodside Park, which comprises roughly 625 houses between Colesville Road and Georgia Avenue north of Spring Street.

The neighborhood's rich history begins during the Civil War, when the land that would become Woodside Park served as a camp for Confederate soldiers during the July 1864 attack on Fort Stevens, according to Robert Oshel, who has written books about the neighborhood's history. Union soldiers lobbed artillery at the Confederates, forcing them to withdraw into the woods where Highland Drive is now, Oshel said. One shell exploded in a field near the current intersection of Alton Parkway and Woodside Parkway, while another damaged farm buildings near what would now be Georgia Avenue and Spring Street, Oshel said in an e-mail.

The neighborhood was developed in the 1920s from a farm owned by Crosby Noyes, publisher of the Washington Evening Star newspaper. Land was developed by individual owners over several decades, leading to the variety of architectural styles present in the neighborhood today.

"The key was, people built their own houses rather than buying pre-built homes from a single developer, so the houses didn't all look alike," said Oshel, 62, a retired Department of Health and Human Services manager who has lived in Woodside Park for 35 years.

Debbie Cook, a real estate agent with Long & Foster who lives in nearby South Woodside Park, said the neighborhood's spacious lots, which range from about a quarter-acre to an acre, also distinguish the neighborhood.

"You cannot get lots like this anywhere else unless you get really far from downtown Silver Spring," Cook said.

And Woodside Park is nothing if not close to downtown Silver Spring, with restaurants, movie theaters and other entertainment within walking distance. Many residents with downtown commuters walk to Silver Spring's Metro station.

"It's a 15-minute walk to Metro, and I'm on the Beltway in literally three minutes," Pasenelli said. "It's one of the most centrally located areas in D.C."

It's also a short walk to Sligo Creek Park, which Cook said residents refer to simply as "the park."

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