A suggestion to designate an entire neighborhood an historic district -- Capitol View Park near Kingsington -- will be the subject of a public hearing at 8 p.m. today at the former Park Street School in Rockville. The area, containing about 220 houses in one of Montgomery County's first Victorian subdivisions, is the first county neighborhood to be proposed for historic status.
Montgomery's Historic Preservation Commission so far has placed 68 historic sites on the county master plan. All are individual buildings except for two federally owned areas, the C&C Canal and the Victorian buildings at Forest Glen, and the 1890s inn and women's seminary approrpiated by the Army in 1942. The seminary is now used as an annex of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
When Capitol View Park was subdivided in 1887 around the B&o Railroad's Capitol View Station, it offered rural country home sites within quick railroad commuting distance of Washington. It has remained "unique and unspoiled, probably because nobody knows it's there. It's a backwater," said Roberta Hahn, president of the Capitol View Park Historical Society.
Most of the houses in the 127.5-acre area are built on two,-four-and eight-acre lots, said Hahn. About 50 of the houses were constructed in the 1800s or the early 1900s and most just after World War I, Hahn said. About one third of the area is still undeveloped.
The railroad station is gone and the subdivision is now accessible by one winding road, Capitol View Avenue, which runs between Kensington and Forest Glen. The neighborhood, located just outside of the Beltway, is bounded by the B&O tracks, the Carroll Knolls subdivision and Kensington.
Montgomery is evaluating about 1,000 historic sites for protection under its historic preservation ordinance. If Capitol View Park is approved as a new historic district, as requested by more than 80 percent of the homeowners in the area, the status will restrict changes to the houses by requiring that major alterations or demolitions be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission.
In the more than a year the commission has been in existence we've had about 10 applications for changes or moving buildings," said commission chairwoman Eileen McGuckin, "and we haven't turned down any."