Felled trees now clog the view of Timberlawn, home for two decades of Sargent and Eunice Shriver. Where the tennis court used to be, a chip harvester digests trees and spews forth a 30-foot fountain of chips on their way to a paper mill. Next to the swimming pool, a bright orange surveyor's stick marks the future path of "Magic Mountain Drive."
Timberlawn, where presidents and senators were entertains and where mentally retarded children spent each June attending "Camp Shriver," is being carved up for a subdivision.
Five hundred fifty-five houses, costing $175,000 to $200,000 each on third- to half-acre lots, will rise on the 10 acres the Shrivers rented and 212 acres of two former estates.
Even the land-clearing and demolition foreman mourned the passing of North Bethesda's largest remaining tract of country-like land, which was first sold a year ago for more than $9 million.
"The street comes so close to the pool it's pitiful. That's why the pool has got to come out. That's progress," said the Phelps Bros. Land Clearing foreman.
He looked down a sloping hill bordered by trees that provided a mile-long vista of Montgomery County trees and lawns broken only by faint gray skyscrapers rising miles away.
"You can't fit it in much better than it is," the foreman said.
A dozen houses will fill that sloping hill. Even the hill will change as it is flattened somewhat for drainage.
Many trees will go, but the foreman said he tried to save what trees he could."Im no murderer."
The main house will remain, but the summer house built for Joe and Rose Kennedy will go, as will about eight other buildings on the property.
"I feel I'm just committing a service," the foreman concluded. "The people themselves are destroying their own country by overpopulating."
Ela Work, administrative assistant to Eunice Shriver said, "Many a party was held on that porch. Just about every president, senator and congressman has been there," she said. The Shrivers were unavailable for comment.
"They loved Timberlawn," she said. "It was very difficult for them to move. The reason it was really difficult was because it's being torn up."
The Shrivers have moved into the house of the late Nelson Rockefeller on Foxhall Road NW.
Ronald Garshag, vice president of U.S. Home, which is building on part of the north Bethesda property, said, "The point is while it is beautiful, it is actually privately owned land used by very few people. The subdivision of homes is for several hundred people, not just the Kennedys and Shrivers. There will be a lot more people happy is the way I look at it."
But at the moment, even some of the people gaining employment from the transformation process aren't too happy about it.
"It makes me sick," said John Lanney, who'e been guarding the empty house since some teen-agers were "caught necking in it."
"It's horrible, disgusting, it's hard to watch," said Nancy Glenn, who is one of the caretakers of the house, as she say by the swimming pool while the sound of saws competed with crickets chirping. CAPTION: Picture 1; Timberlawn sold a year ago for about $9 million. By Ken Feil -- The Washington Post; Picture 2; Trees are being cut down at Timberlawn to make way for 555 houses costing up to $200,000 each. By Ken Feil -- The Washington Post