June 21, 2018 at 7:30 AM
Situated in Northeast Washington, close to the Maryland border, Queens Chapel is a community of 298 homes and a legal subdivision of Michigan Park. The residents of the neighborhood of mostly two-story brick Colonials built in the late 1940s and a few ramblers built in the 1970s endeavor to preserve its character.
“It’s a quiet community,” Charlotte B. Lewis said. “We work quietly and vigilantly to maintain what we have. For the most part, you have a neighborhood of homeowners.”
If anything happens that concerns neighbors, someone takes action.
One recent Friday night, neighbors spotted what turned out to be a stolen car speeding through the neighborhood.
“Joy riding,” said Lewis, who is president of the Queens Chapel Civic Association. “A neighbor called me. We called 911. We were right on it. Because it was so quiet it was easily noticed.”
That is the spirit of Queens Chapel, a community whose residents care about what happens down the block.
“Each street has a block captain or two. The block captain is the eyes and ears of that street,” Lewis said. “The neighborhood has largely maintained its character. People know each other. That’s one of the things we try to maintain is a sense of connectedness.”
Longtime residents: Lewis would know. She first moved to Queens Chapel with her parents and paternal grandmother in 1964. As the youngest of three sisters, she had been living with her family in Anacostia. Her parents — Hilda Proctor and Charles Blount — were born in Southeast Washington.
“They bought this house in 1964. Blacks had begun to move in — working class, middle class blacks” — federal workers, teachers, pharmacists and lawyers, she said.
Lewis went off to college and married William “Bill” Lewis. In 2000, they bought the family home and moved back into her childhood home. In 2012, she retired as a D.C. Public Schools principal.
Carol Gordon has called Queens Chapel home for 45 years. She and her husband, Robert, moved into the neighborhood when Carol was six months pregnant with the older of their two daughters. A retired Montgomery County teacher, Carol Gordon likes the “solid construction of the homes and big back yards.” Her husband retired as an astrodynamicist with NASA.
Clyde Richardson, 85, has lived in Queens Chapel for 33 years. Before that, he lived just six blocks away. He knew people who lived in Queens Chapel who he went to school with in Henderson, N.C. Richardson, a retired senior manager with the federal government, has served on a number of boards and is treasurer of the board of directors of Christian Relief Services Charities.
The neighborhood makes an effort to keep its alleys clean with community cleanups.
Speeding traffic from Eastern Avenue NE to 16th Street NE is a concern, Charlotte Lewis said. The civic association is working on traffic-calming strategies, including signage and pedestrian crosswalks.
Living there: Queens Chapel is a mostly tranquil, stable neighborhood. Yet, the surrounding area, which has been home to a number of Catholic institutions for many years, is beginning to change in ways that do not appeal to everyone.
The pending development of land behind St. Joseph’s Seminary at 1200 Varnum St. NE, just outside Queens Chapel’s boundaries, has faced some opposition. Approximately four acres are under contract with EYA, a Bethesda-based developer.
As a result of efforts by the Queens Chapel Civic Association and other civic associations, the proposed density of the new construction has been decreased. The number of new homes to be built behind St. Joseph’s Seminary has been reduced from 150 to 80, the amount of preserved open space has been doubled and the height of the homes was reduced from four to three stories.
In addition, more than 2.5 acres of open space, including new park areas, will be preserved in the immediate proximity of the seminary. Certain areas cannot be developed but will remain open to the public. Of the 80 townhouses to be built, 10 will be Affordable Dwelling Units, according to Evan Goldman, EYA’s vice president of land acquisition and development.
“We are trying to keep the character of the neighborhood the way it feels today,” he said.
The Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the D.C. Zoning Commission have approved the project. EYA has settled one appeal from a group of area residents and has another appeal to address, Goldman said.
Queens Chapel is near the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center and its aquatic center.
The neighborhood is bounded roughly by 16th Street NE on the west, Eastern Avenue NE on the north and east, Buchanan Street NE and Michigan Avenue NE on the south.
In the past year, five residential properties were sold in Queens Chapel, according to Wendy Gadson, a real estate agent with Long & Foster. The highest-priced was a four-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial for $680,000; the lowest-priced was a four-bedroom, two-bathroom Colonial for $446,000. There are no houses on the market at this time.
Schools: Bunker Hill Elementary, Brookland Middle, Dunbar High
Transit: The closest Metro stations to Queens Chapel are Brookland on the Red Line and Fort Totten on the Green, Red and Yellow Lines and the West Hyattsville station on the Green Line. Metro buses connect to the neighborhood.
Crime: According to the D.C. Crime Map, in the past year, two robberies were reported in Queens Chapel.