Welcome to Mr. Kelly's neighborhood.
It has $250,000 condominium "villas" overlooking a 67-acre, man-made lake, another cluster of luxury town houses with private tennis courts and spacious single-family houses on one- to three-acre lots selling for up to $700,000.
At its center is a country club and 18-hole golf course. The cars that cruise its private roads are mostly Cadillacs, Lincoln Continentals, Mercedes and Jaguars.
The setting is country, but it is less than two miles to the Capital Beltway and is close to the high-tech employment centers of metropolitan Washington. And Woodmore, with its imposing brick entrances, is smack in the middle of Prince George's County, where the average price of a home last year was $82,000.
Winfield M. Kelly Jr., while serving as county executive of what some patronizingly referred to as Washington's "ugly sister," dreamed of a community such as this, one that would attract affluent outsiders to the county and, at the same time, keep the home-grown millionaires from moving to the richer suburbs of Montgomery or Fairfax County.
During his term of office from 1974 to 1978, Kelly talked about a "new quality" that he saw emerging in the traditional tobacco-growing and blue-collar county where he grew up as the successful son of a soda and beer truck driver from Mount Rainier. And people laughed at his ideas.
But, as county executive, Kelly was instrumental in a land swap with a developer that resulted in this picture-post card community he now calls home.
"Hell, I caused this thing to happen," Kelly said last week, as he wheeled his white Cadillac through the posh development. "I never thought I'd live here."
There are 800 cleared and wooded acres here. More than 100 single-family houses and 309 town house "villas" are projected. Thirty-eight of the first 52 single-family lots have been sold and 21 homes built since ground was broken for the development five years ago.
There are 10 lakeside villas and 13 units by the tennis courts, all occupied.
"These are popular with the yuppie crowd or the young, in quotes, retired, like several . . . colonels just out of the service, double-dipping at nearby computer firms or whatever," said sales representative R.E. (Lefty) Nairn.
Woodmore is a "regular stop on our tour," according to Joseph Edwards, executive director of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp., which tries to lure firms here.
"Obviously, the housing stock in Prince George's County is always questioned by everyone," said Edwards, who passed Kelly while driving through Woodmore. Edwards' passenger was from Gloucester, England. Woodmore, Edwards explained, "always serves to show this kind of housing is available in the county, even if on a small scale."
Edwards said that the Englishman had been impressed.
"Not all communities have a 'Potomac,' " Edwards said, likening Woodmore to Montgomery County's area of expensive houses and large estates.
Gerard T. McDonough, a former County Council member and a lawyer who lives in a lakeside villa at Woodmore, was, like Kelly, involved in its creation. The complex deal called for the county to buy the property for about $3.2 million and then trade it for the Kentland home of the Prince George's County Country Club, which is now at the center of Woodmore.
As part of the arrangement, the original developer acquired a sizable portion of the formerly county-owned land from the club. That land and other parcels owned by the developer became Woodmore.
The county, McDonough said, has a few up-scale areas, such as College Heights Estates, University Hills and Tantallon South, "but the people who were really successful were leaving, moving to Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties. We put this together to provide a setting that would hold them."
The setting includes the lake, which McDonough's deck overlooks. The lake is home to a flock of Canada geese in the fall that has grown in three years to about 100. There had been eight swans, but all except one were eaten by a fox, according to V. Paul Zanecki, a zoning attorney, resident and former investor in Woodmore, whose symbol is now a single swan reflected in the water.
Residents include Michael J. Ritter, president of the Long Fence Co., along with Robert Long, the chairman of the board, and his brother Sonny, who manufactures the fence Long Fence installs.
"It's like a little house on the prairie," Bobby Lee Ritter said of the four-bedroom, wood-and-stone house that she and her husband share in Woodmore.
Other residents include Herbert Fame, of "Peaches and Herb," the duo that recorded "Reunited"; developer Raymond G. La Placa; Robert Smith, chairman of Maryland Federal Savings & Loan, and nurseryman Frank Hawkins.
There are a number of lawyers and doctors, a University of Maryland professor, a plumbing contractor, a Senate aide and a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry.
By covenant, all houses in Woodmore must be at least 2,500 square feet in size, with two-car garages, cedar shingle roofing and earth-tone colors. The houses must pass muster by an architectural review committee, on which Kelly sits.
Kelly, 50, who made his money selling food at construction sites and is president of a cable television firm that has the franchise for the northern half of Prince George's County, recently reemerged in public as the newly appointed chairman of the nonprofit corporation overseeing the county's troubled public hospital system. He lives on Pleasant Prospect Drive in a 7,000-square-foot rambler that he said cost $500,000 to build.
The house has three fireplaces, one flanked by a suit of armor, a sunken living room and a master bedroom with what Kelly calls "his and hers baths." His wife's tub has a Jacuzzi that is illuminated by a glass chandelier.
"I gave her an unlimited budget to do this house, and she exceeded it," Kelly joked.
A small stream flows behind the house, and there is a gazebo on the 2 1/2-acre site. The property adjoins an area that is to become a nine-hole addition to the Prince George's County Country Club golf course.
In addition to his house, Kelly and his brother recently completed building "Trinity," a 6,500-square-foot mansion with a 30-foot-high ceiling in its center section. Its bathrooms have gold fixtures and marble, and there are two oak, spiral staircases and a central vacuum cleaning system.
The house, said to have been designed for golf pro Arnold Palmer, an early investor in Woodmore, resembles George Washington's plantation home at Mount Vernon but with arched windows and a part-redwood exterior. The sales brochure sets the price at $675,000, but Kelly is asking $50,000 less.
Less grandiose, but also impressive, are the lakeside villas, whose occupants include Zanecki.
Zanecki's 90-by-15 foot deck overlooks the lake, which reflects the autumn leaves and a distant bridge in the morning haze.
"It's gorgeous," he said. "The sun comes out, in the morning the geese wake me up. The amazing thing is, I'm eight minutes from my office by the Beltway."
The decor of his nine-room house includes what McDonough calls "decorator books," such as the works of Cervantes, Jane Austen and Chekov, on a small table in the living room.
Zanecki was off to his second home in Garrett County, Md., the other day, but Kelly, dressed in pink sweater, shirt and golf slacks, said that living in Woodmore is "like being on vacation . . . . It's really kind of a secret place."
And, he said, Woodmore boasts an ethnic, if not economic, diversity. Of its more than 40 households, about eight are black and at least one is Asian.
"It's really a reflection of the county," Kelly said of Woodmore's growing community. "There are a lot of entrepreneurs and professionals, people who like and understand this part of the world and aren't bothered by the reputation this county might have had."